Man feels uncomfortable with uncertainty, which nonetheless is a law of life. Therefore, although reason may dictate that, more often than not, the promise of security is a fallacy, an elusive mirage, a bait, its irresistible attractiveness as a means to overcome uncertainty makes it an efficient lever of political manipulation. Knowing this, the Welfare State offers a deceitful swap whereby it promises the people a utopian security in exchange for its liberty and money (in Spain, the average worker pays 65% of his income, if we sum all taxes). As was the case with communism, the final result will be the yoke of servitude and impoverishment.
But there’s more. Even if it were attainable, security would often be detrimental because the perception of security usually draws man to forget his responsibility. Imagine, for instance, that someone invents a pill that eliminates all immediate and visible symptoms of an excessive intake of alcohol: I enjoy the drinks and, just before going back home, I swallow the pill. No more worries about sobriety checks, no more car accidents, no more hangovers. Would alcohol consumption increase or decrease? And what would happen with the incidence of cirrhosis? Thus, the feeling of security brings hand in hand the abdication of responsibility, and given that without responsibility there can be no liberty, liberty and security many times end up being incompatible.
The current extremely intervened Western economies provide a host of examples of deceitful security that foster irresponsibility and increase systemic risk. When the ECB assures us it will “do whatever it takes”, national governments assume that it no longer behooves them to bring order to their accounts, or to embark on the necessary structural reforms: thus deficits and public debt levels continue to grow unchecked. When the State “guarantees” deposits (by means of the ornamental Deposit Guarantee Fund) or encourages the formation of “too big to fail” banks, it not only increases the fragility of the system, but also encourages the heedless “flight forward” by the weakest, worst managed entities which rely on the State’s implicit backing. The official watchword is that it is excess freedom that causes all crises, and that our saviors, in all cases, are bureaucrats and politicians (well renowned for their altruism and infallibility), who save us by snatching our freedom away. In reality, the American financial crisis of 2008 stemmed to a certain extent from the false feeling of security afforded by two State-sponsored institutions, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which, with the deceitful sense of security provided by the implicit guarantee of the US government, leveraged 75 to 1 in order to buy from the financial institutions the riskier types of mortgages while keeping the highest credit ratings. Finally, the paradigmatic “Social Security” scheme (the direst Ponzi Scheme in history) is a clear example: the State decides that we are unable of taking responsibility for our own life (and people end up believing it!), takes away 38% of our salary (in Spain) and places us in a relationship of absolute dependence on the oligarchy (clearly the latter’s ultimate purpose).
The lack of responsibility linked to the mirage of security appears in all realms. In a mission to Africa in 2009 and on the subject of AIDS, Pope Benedict XVI declared that “the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem.” The Pope concluded that the disease could only be overcome through a responsible attitude towards sex. The customary Christian-hating media and lobbies immediately began to foam at the mouth and suffer seizures (as, by the way, they continue to do today whenever a member of the Catholic hierarchy makes use of his freedom of expression to defend his faith), and in their customary tar-and-feathering they accused Benedict of fanatically placing dogma before the lives of innocent beings. Some days after Benedict issued his statement, to general surprise, Edward Green, the liberal Senior Research Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health who happens to be one of the world’s leading experts on AIDS, stated in several interviews and in an article published by the Washington Post that empirical evidence supported the Pope (although he recognized that by making his statement public, please take note, he incurred “terrible professional risk”). Referring exclusively to Africa, where the disease appears to be linked to a high level of heterosexual promiscuity (whereas in developed countries, such as the USA, 83% of new male AIDS patients are homosexuals), the American scientist mentioned that what had obtained positive results were awareness-building campaigns aimed at promoting monogamy and fidelity, and that the scientific conclusions were unequivocal: “There is a consistent association shown by our best studies between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates”. Why? Because when people feel safe, they become irresponsible and engage in riskier sexual activity.
On the contrary, a natural feeling of insecurity reinforces responsible behavior. When Swedish authorities changed driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right in 1967, road accidents decreased substantially in the weeks following implementation of the law. The reason was the initial feeling of insecurity among drivers facing this new rule, which led them to drive more cautiously. Another more recent example is that of the Dutch city of Drachten, which in 2006 removed all traffic lights and signals, compelling residents to exercise extreme precaution and courtesy. The result: a decrease in the number and seriousness of accidents, and, to cap it all, an improvement in traffic flows. Traffic engineer Hans Monderman, who passed away in 2008, conceived this notion, which has been copied in a growing number of cities. Mr. Monderman’s obituary in British daily The Guardian recognized his importance stating that he “pioneered an approach that respected the driver’s common sense and intelligence instead of reliance on signs, road markings, traffic signals and physical barriers”, and added (please read this sentence attentively): “He recognised that increasing control and regulation by the state reduced individual and collective responsibility” – I can hear gnashing of the teeth among our busybody regulators and interventionists. Yes, dear: your heavy-handed, abusive and clumsy actions usually bring about worse, not better, results, but how can we take from you the power-wielding toys you so much enjoy?
We feel attracted to liberty as much as we shy away from responsibility. The tragedy of man is that he may doubt whether it’s worth to lose the former in order to be relieved from the burden of the latter. This doubt makes him vulnerable when confronted by power systems such as the Welfare State, which takes advantage by offering a chimerical security so that we voluntarily surrender our freedom and condemn ourselves to serfdom. In his stealthy path to totalitarian power, the Welfare State does away with our sense of responsibility making us believe that we cannot look after ourselves and our families, slights us as human beings depriving us of our attributes of freedom, will and intelligence, makes us absolutely dependent on the charity of our new masters and, finally, discourages us from cooperating with one another (don’t look after the neighbor: the Nannie State will take charge) in order to create a society of isolated and autarchistic individuals, much easier to control (that’s the reason why the family, which is a bastion of autonomy, freedom and mutual support that curtails the State’s totalitarian zeal, is considered by the Welfare State an enemy to destroy).
When Beethoven premièred his Fifth Symphony in 1808, he was asked to explain the meaning of the famous four notes which open the first movement. Beethoven allegedly said that this opening symbolized “fate knocking at the door”. Wake up! We can already hear the first notes: the destiny of serfdom is knocking at our doors. Shall we resist or shall we become exemplary serfs who kiss the hand of their masters with reverent gratitude?