Fair Starts A War With Welfare

Tampa may become our own Kabul this August. When the Republican National Convention convenes, there are sure to be demonstrators, protesters, and occupiers of all kinds. Such democracy-in-action is the pride of our civics classes, and the scourge of our city police forces. Which is why Tampa officials released a list of items considered to be a security risk.

Water pistols, masks. and even pieces of string are among them. But not firearms. Florida guns laws prohibit any local restrictions on “carrying of guns.”

For some, this fits right into the national debate over the role and rule of government in our lives. Libertarians like Ron Paul and small-government enthusiasts like George Romney are troubled by what some call “America’s new European styled Welfare State.” This despite a recent New York Times study demonstrating “welfare is not the monopoly of the few and the poor,” but rather it is the largess of the national budget into which tap “the vast majority of all citizens.”

One observer suggested: “It’s the national teat from which we all suck be it tax deductions, student loans, corporate subsidies, or Social Security & Medicare.” The notion traces back to the Constitution’s general welfare clause: “The Congress shall have power to lay & collect taxes, duties, imports, and excises to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the United States.”

Americans have been arguing over the meaning of “welfare” ever since. Back then, Hamilton, Madison and Jefferson duked it out. Now 224 years later, Obama, Romney and just about everyone else are still duking.

Sometimes the argument steps out of the formality of the courts and into the informality of the corner bar. This is what you usually hear in there: Whenever THEY get a welfare check, that’s “welfare.” Whenever I get a loan, deduction, pension, or Medicare check, that’s “fair.”

Stay tuned….

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