Saturday, January 13, 2007

You Need More Government,
You Just Didn't Know It

Here's an interesting entry from a recent James Taranto's 'Best of the Web' column:

Amish Welfare Queens
We're not sure whether to laugh or cry at this story from Cleveland's WEWS-TV:

Two northeast Ohio counties are being ordered by the state to try to boost the number of Amish receiving food stamps.

Geauga and Holmes counties plan to start advertising campaigns to encourage Amish to enroll in the subsidy program. Holmes may use a billboard to get the message out.

State officials saidt's [sic] important that the Amish know the benefit is available.

But county officials question whether the effort is a waste of time and money. Amish oppose accepting government assistance.

The head of the Geauga Department of Job and Family Services says no matter how much they do, the Amish won't sign up.

Last week Mickey Kaus noted a similar story from the Los Angeles Times:

Though it goes against the conventional wisdom of anti-illegal immigration supporters, those who enroll the poor in the federal food stamp program say they've struggled for years to get immigrant Latino families signed up.

Now a Spanish-language news report and television ad campaign have spurred thousands of immigrants in Orange County over the last several weeks to contact a nonprofit organization that offers a Spanish-language class called "Food Stamps in Four Hours."

The stream of immigrants contrasts sharply with what was going on just a few months ago when only a handful of immigrants would attend the free course. . . .

"The Mexican man is macho. He doesn't want to come to this country and beg," said Alfonso Chavez, the Community Action Partnership's outreach coordinator. "I tell them this is a program that will help the children. The kids are American-born, and they have a right to this program."

So here we have two strikingly difficult communities, Amish and Latino, that stubbornly cling to self-reliance--which is a profoundly American virtue; and a government and a nonprofit organization are struggling to turn them into wards of the state. Something is wrong with this picture.

You would think the role of government is to help people out of poverty and dependence. And, if you do think that way, you're totally wrong.

The problem with government today is that it sees its primary mission as extending, expanding and perpetuating itself. The stories above are examples of how they do it. If the Amish don't sign up for welfare, there's no need in that area for government bureaucrats to administer the welfare program. Smaller government? -- we can't have that now can we? In the government mindset, self-sufficiency is bad; dependence is good.

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