More Government, Less Manners


I really don’t like complaining about government. I find it a waste of time, as well as bad strategy. I’m convinced that it’s far more useful to leave the whole mess behind and move on to better things.

Still, most of the human race is emotionally chained to government, and it can be helpful to point out that they’re in an abusive relationship. So, today I’d like to cover something that I don’t recall seeing elsewhere. I’ll begin with the what and then move to the why.


I have observed something over many years and in many ways. And that is this:

The more government is involved with people’s lives, the worse those people become.

Example number one has to be the welfare class (or perhaps I should say classes at this point) – people who live more or less permanently on the dole. The worst neighborhood in almost any town is where the highest percentage of people live as government dependents. Sure, some hard-core ideologues will still protest that the poverty came first and the government help second, but that’s only true sometimes, and it avoids the far more important truth that making adults dependent degrades them.

Since I’m talking about my observations today, I’ll add that I’ve been in and around ghettos and the permanent dependent class a pretty fair amount. And I’ve had friends who made it out of some truly hellacious government housing projects. So, I’m not just recycling someone else’s opinion here.

Not only is living on the dole degrading, but trying to escape from it is harshly punished. If you’re on welfare and you start to work a little, your payments are slashed to nearly zero. So, unless you have a really good job lined up (and how many welfare people ever get those?), forget about leaving the system.

This kind of living undercuts self-opinion, dignity, basic manners, and much more. If you wanted to ruin a group of people, you’d put them on the dole and pack them into high-density high-rises – precisely what was done in my town back in the ’60s, by self-righteous do-gooders.

But it’s not just the poor. There are millions of middle-class people who are now living on the dole. In the US, we have 94 million people who are officially outside of the workforce. A large percentage of them are on food stamps and/or disability. They are being degraded too.

And it’s not just the US; Europe is also a mess that way. Not too many years ago, I lived in a major European city, and it was shocking to see how many fully capable people didn’t bother to work, because they had more than enough handout programs. In the neighborhood where I lived, most of the shopkeepers were immigrants, because the old shopkeeping families had left the business.

And living on government money did degrade manners. For one thing, you’d hardly believe how thoroughly the sidewalks were covered in dog poop. It was hard to take a walk. People just didn’t bother to pick up their mess. On top of that, there was endemic theft of things like bicycles; I was openly cheated by a “respectable” landlord; and so on. And this was in a “decent neighborhood” in a “world-class” city.


I’ll start my list of causes with this: Living on welfare removes cooperation from our lives. In any kind of actual business, we have to communicate and cooperate with dozens of people. We have to get information and materials from them, get things to them, and so on. They have to rely on us and we on them. All of that builds manners, responsibility, punctuality, integrity, and dignity. It also builds important skills like diction. People on the dole miss all of that. Instead, they get Jerry Springer.

Another major factor is that people aligned with government don’t choose; they have their lives dictated to them. That’s not how humans are designed to operate. We need to choose and we need to face the consequences of our choices. Government-life eliminates that. And humans simply cannot thrive that way.

We are built to strive and accomplish. Having things perpetually handed to us degrades us, and badly. When we live the life of dependency, we never learn to self-surpass, to become better than we were. In fact, improvement is punished in dependency cultures, and all too often violently.

Even the government involvement of “education” is degrading. That’s one of my primary arguments against modern schooling: children are forced into inescapable relationships. And it degrades the children. Ask homeschooling parents; they’ll tell you that most of the bad habits their children pick up come from kids in government schools. Forced grouping is simply bad design… at least if we wish for human health and progress.

In the End…

My observation over long periods of time is that the more government is involved with human lives, the worse is the conduct that arises in and from those lives. (And I know I’m not alone in this opinion.)

Are there exceptions? Sure, and probably many thousands of them. Thank God for that. But in the end, this statement is true:

Government help is a curse to those who rely upon it. It makes them worse, not better.

Paul Rosenberg

5 thoughts on “More Government, Less Manners”

  1. Paul, you may not recall seeing it elsewhere, but I’ve been harping this point across the Internet for several years now. I refer to government “benefits” as being derived from OPM, and then explain the acronym: Sounds like opium, is equally addicting, stands for Other People’s Money–forcibly extorted. I often point out that the greater victims are not the people who are mulcted to pay for someone ‘s benefits, but rather the recipient of the government’s “freebies” is the real loser. The taxpayer is merely out money, while the recipient of OPM is robbed of his or her integrity, dignity, sense of self-worth, sense of personal responsibility, initiative, morality and any claim to honest, for the government has made of him or her a thief.
    A friend of mine went on Social Security disability about 15 to 20 years ago, and I have watched as he has deteriorated morally and physically. One point you neglected to raise is that those on SSI are virtually forced into lying and cheating. Their benefits are so sparse, that they often supplement SSI with under-the-table income. Now I’m all for receiving money under the table, but not if one has to lie in order to continue on SSI That is the position most SSI recipeints are put in and lie is what they do.

  2. I agree completely with the article and have used examples of real folks in numerous books under the pen name of Helen P. Rogers. I think many conservatives & all real libertarians also agree with all you wrote. Bravo! Thank you.

  3. I’ve thought about these things for many years. People are people and only want a fair government. Reading your article, I am reminded of a quote:
    The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests. —Patrick Henry
    Sometimes it is good to review what our ‘founding fathers’ had to say in their day, for much of what they said is applicable to our time. —-Steven Conners

  4. “If you wanted to ruin a group of people, you’d put them on the dole and pack them into high-density high-rises – precisely what was done in my town back in the ’60s, by self-righteous do-gooders.” It is not even necessary to pack them into high-density high-rises. Leave them on the open prairie and providing them with government provided houses is sufficient, as has been done on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. I have never seen a place so destitute and destructive to the human spirit than that reservation. I have said for a long time that if you want to see the results of a hundred years of living on the dole, visit that reservation, the poorest county in the nation. It is sickening to see what living on government hand-outs has done to a once proud and self-sufficient people.

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