01 March 2004

"The thesis of both media liberals and political liberals is that there are vast millions of people who work hard all their lives and still remain poor. The next chorus of this song is that only the government can save the day for such people. The grand finale is that politicians need to take more money out of your paycheck to buy the votes of those to whom they give it. They don't express it like that, of course, but that is what it amounts to. ... By focusing on those who work hard all their lives and still remain poor -- no more than three percent of the population -- and telling their personal stories endlessly, liberals can present the Big Lie with a human face. There is an even bigger lie behind all this. That lie is the implication that the purpose of all this hand-wringing is to help the poor. But the poor are just the bait in a political bait-and-switch game. The fraud becomes apparent the moment anyone suggests that there be means tests, so that the taxpayers' money will be spent only on the poor. Those who pose as the biggest champions of the poor are almost invariably the biggest opponents of means tests. They want bigger government and the poor are just a means to that end. Whether the issue is housing, medical care or innumerable other things, the argument will be made that the poor are unable to get some benefit that the government ought to provide for them. But the minute you accept that, the switch takes place and suddenly we are no longer talking about some benefit confined to the poor but about 'universal health care' or 'affordable housing' as a 'right' for everyone."

--Thomas Sowell

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