Opinion

You’ll Be Shocked to Learn Who Created and Copied the Welfare State

While tyranny is often forced upon a population from the muzzle of a gun, it can also be imposed gradually on a savior‑starved people. The history of socialism and communism is the history of how people prefer slavery — in the name of security — over freedom.

Adolf Hilter certainly understood this.

Hitler’s predecessor, Otto von Bismark, got the Welfare (slavery) State ball rolling with the creation of a series of social reforms that had a profound influence on the German working class. William L. Shirer, in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, writes “that it gradually made them value security over political freedom and caused them to see in the State, however conservative, a benefactor and a protector.”

Between 1883 and 1889, Bismark put through a program for social security far beyond anything known in other countries. It included compulsory insurance for workers against old age, sickness, accident, and incapacity, and though it was organized by the State it was financed by employers and employees. Bismark did this, Shirer writes, “to combat socialism.”

Joe Hargrave of Crisis Magazine points out the following:

It might surprise some to learn that the basic idea behind the “welfare state” did not originate with either Marxist revolutionaries or bleeding-heart liberals, but rather with a head of state usually identified with conservatism: Otto von Bismarck. Faced with a growing threat from the German socialist movement, in the 1880s Bismarck established four programs that were essentially the minimum of the socialist program: health insurance, accident insurance (or workmen’s compensation), disability insurance, and a retirement fund for the elderly. By implementing these programs, the German leader hoped to steal some of the thunder from the socialists and prevent a revolutionary uprising.

In the United States, a similar motivation guided the architects of the New Deal, Social Security, and other programs now grouped under the broad heading “welfare state.” One might never know, based on today’s heated political rhetoric, that the idea behind the welfare state was to prevent, not bring about, socialism. Yet since the 2008 campaign, welfare, along with regulation and redistribution, have become synonymous with “socialism” in America.

Hitler took full advantage of the German state of mind and Bismark’s early progress in turning the nation into a model of socialist reform. Hitler remarks in Mein Kampf, “I studied Bismark’s socialist legislation in its intention, struggle and success.”

Hitler was not alone in his admiration of Bismark’s social policies. Franklin Delano Roosevelt borrowed the Bismarkian agenda and created what is now known as the Social Security System. Bismark was the model and Hitler his student. Bismark said that “the State must take the matter in hand, since the State can most easily supply the requisite funds. It must provide them not as alms but in fulfillment of the workers’ right to look to the State where their own good will can achieve nothing more.” Roosevelt and his admirers agreed.

In fact, P. J. O’Brien in his book Forward with Roosevelt wrote, “That might have been lifted out of a speech by President Roosevelt in 1936, but the Iron Chancellor uttered it in 1871.” This was written before Hitler showed his iron fist and bloody hand.

In 1937 the maximum tax table, including both the employee’s and the employer’s share, was $60. By 1958 the amount was raised to $90. What began as a modest program — a two‑percent tax on $3,000 — has increased to 12.4 percent of $127,200!

Most Americans want healthcare reform. Unfortunately, too many Americans believe the State can deliver on its well‑intentioned promises of accomplishing the goal. If the Social Security System and the ever-expanding Medicare and Medicaid are any indications of how well health care reform will work (an estimated $36 trillion over ten years), we are about to get a super expensive, over regulated, and easily bankrupted program.

We don’t look like Venezuela today, but give it time.

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