"...statism, which my dictionary defines as the concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government, and which I further define as the belief that the state is the mechanism best suited for solving most if not all of society's ills, be they health related, natural disasters, poverty, job training, or injured feelings. Statism is the great political disease of the twentieth century, with Communist, socialist, and many democratic nations infected to a greater or lesser degree. When the political history of our century is written, its greatest story will be how a hundred variants of statism failed." Jim Rogers from Investment Biker
This increasing statism can have detrimental effects, both subtle and not so subtle.
As we have pointed out, the modern welfare state indeed coerces in a variety of ways to attain its unattainable ends.
But well-meaning patriarchalism also enervates people by robbing them of the entrepreneurial spirit implicit in freedom. What harm long-term dependence on the welfare state can inflict became apparent after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when a substantial part of the population, suddenly deprived of comprehensive state support and unaccustomed to fending for itself, came to yearn for the restoration of the despotic yoke.
The trouble is that because schools fail to teach history, especially legal and constitutional history, the vast majority of today’s citizens have no inkling to what they owe their liberty and prosperity, namely a long successful struggle for rights of which the right to property is the most fundamental. They are therefore unaware what debilitating effect the restrictions on property rights will, over the long run, have on their lives.
The aristocrat Tocqueville, observing the democratic United States and his native bourgeois France a century and a half ago, had a premonition that the modern world faced dangers to liberty previously unknown. “I have no fear that they will meet with tyrants in their rulers,” he wrote of future generations, “but rather with guardians.” Such “guardians” will deprive their peoples of liberty by gratifying their desires and then exploit their dependence on such generosity. He foresaw a kind of democratic despotism in which “an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike” incessantly strive to pursue “the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives.” The benign paternalistic government – the modern welfare state – hovers over them.For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole and only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?The “principle of equality has prepared men for these things” and “oftentimes to look on them as benefits.”After having thus taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arms over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent and guided; men are seldom forced to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Property and Freedom by Richard Pipes pp291-2; drawing upon Democracy in America.