Walter Williams

Letter | Walter Williams government assistance theory equals Social Darwinism

March 23, 2014 

In his Op-Ed essay (Feb. 20), Walter E. Williams posed a thought-experiment for his readers: some elderly widows are too frail to mow their lawns and too poor to hire help. Would we resent it if 1) we were forced to personally mow the lawns, or 2) we were forced to personally pay to have the job done, or 3) we were taxed so the government could effect it?

Williams thinks we will find the third alternative less abhorrent, and this he regrets because he sees all three as equivalent, all equally “depraved” and “evil.”

Of course Williams is not really worried about lawns, his targets are the Federal social welfare programs, starting with Social Security eight decades ago and continuing with Unemployment Insurance, Medicare, Food Stamps, Medicaid and now Obamacare.

The honest thought-experiment would have been to present the widows who are deprived of food and shelter. Williams’ logic would impel him to deplore tax-derived assistance even then. Social Darwinists would condemn the ladies to struggle and die unaided because any assistance inevitably saps the resources of the contributors. That goes far beyond even standard Republican thinking as exemplified by Mitt Romney, their standard bearer, who said he saw the American population as 53 percent contributors; 47 percent takers.

Each of the programs I have cited, from a few years after its institution, has thereafter enjoyed the support of a majority of the electorate. This Williams acknowledges with regret, calling taxation to support such programs “confiscation and intimidation,” and suggesting that majority support for such “immoral”’ programs is illegitimate.

He castigates “the church” (possibly, Pope Francis) for supporting a government’s right to tax for these purposes. Whoever he is, I suspect the churchman’s views are derived from the words of Christ as reported by Mathew: “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.”

Readers should beware advocates on the extreme right, who just like the Taliban, would overrule majority decision-making to prevent what they see as “evil.” When they claim to be Christians, they are either fooling themselves or trying to fool you.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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