The Post-Welfare State Family

Posted: April 30, 2013 in Category - Heritage Foundation, Post-Welfare State Family

The Post-Welfare State Family: The original cradle-to-grave institution.

May 6, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 32 • By MARY EBERSTADT

Among various unwanted truths that grown-ups of the Western world have to contend with these days, here’s one that doesn’t get nearly the traction it deserves: The days of the modern welfare state look to be numbered.

A woman in Athens: “Am hungry” A woman in Athens: “Am hungry”Newscom

Yet it’s true. Even the most redistributive president in history can’t change the laws of arithmetic. As can be seen most recently in Jonathan V. Last’s book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, the song of demographic unsustainability remains the same on both sides of the Atlantic. From Nicosia to Athens, London to Washington, D.C., the benefits promised to seniors and others before Western people stopped having babies will be shouldered in the years to come by a shrinking cadre of younger taxpayers. Nor is the discrepancy just some accounting shortfall to be finessed. As British psychiatrist and pundit Theodore Dalrymple once noted, this crisis is system-wide, “civilizational.”

Two weeks ago, for instance, two news items independently offered clear windows onto different parts of the scene. In the New York Times, a harrowing front page story entitled “More Children in Greece Start To Go Hungry” showed what can happen when an economy in free-fall meets the highest unemployment rates in Europe (27 percent): More Greek youngsters underfed and malnourished; garbage-picking outside elementary schools; and an overall level of “food insecurity” that, according to one expert, rivals that in parts of Africa. And though “experts” can be expected to overstate, Greece, it helps to remember, is a country in the EU.

Read more at Heritage


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