179 years ago, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville prophetically wrote that "the American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
Toqueville's perfectly explains one of the main sources of our current economic and political ills, particularly our 10 trillion dollar deficit.
So many people don't realize that they will pay for every "free" service that the government provides them, be it welfare or warfare, in one or more of the following ways:
1. Direct taxation that burdens the rich and poor alike. Especially in our city and county, those who are too poor to pay an income tax are heavily burdened through a sales tax, corporate taxes (that raises the cost of the goods and services that they utilize) and property taxes (that are passed on to them in the form of higher rents.)
2. Creating massive public debt through continuous borrowing. Fundamentally this equals a transference of wealth from future generations to our own short sighted generation.
3. The inflationary tax that occurs when the government debases the value of the dollar by printing money to cover the costs of a massive state. The working and middle class know that costs are rising faster than their income, but few see the culprit as the government's expansion of the money supply.
Unfortunately a perverse form of natural selection occurs that virtually ensures the "bribery of the public" by grossly irresponsible politicians. As the elections of Bush, Blagojevich and Obama show, anyone who promises more "free" government programs and less taxes will almost certainly get elected. And anyone who is informed and honest enough to present the public with the painful choice between less government and / or more taxes will almost never get elected.
As a good friend of mine from Iran said "people usually gets the government they deserve."
To learn more about Tocqueville:
To learn more about Toqueville's great work - Democracy in America: