I wrote the other day about the importance of “social capital,” which is a catch-all phrase for a society’s attitudes about things such as the work ethic, a sense of self-reliance, and the spirit of independence.
Today we’re going to look at the flip side of social capital. I’m not sure whether this is an example of “anti-social capital” or “social anti-capital,” but our newest entrant in the Moocher Hall of Fame is symbolic of what’s wrong with the mental attitude of too many people in today’s welfare states.
Here are some details from a story about Christina in the U.K.-based Daily Mail. As you read the story, keep in mind that a “stone” is 14 pounds and £20,000 equals more than $31,000.
An obese mother-of-two who lives on benefits says she needs more of taxpayers’ money to overhaul her unhealthy lifestyle. Christina Briggs, 26, from Wigan, says she hates being 25 stone but she can’t do anything about it because she can only afford junk food. Meanwhile, exercise is out of the question because she doesn’t have the funds to join a gym. …’I tried swimming but it cost £22 a month and it meant I had to cut back on my favourite pizza and Chinese takeaways.’ Unemployed Christina gets £20,000 in benefits a year and lives in a council house with her two children by different fathers, Helena, 10, and Robert, two. …The family feast everyday on takeaways, chocolate and crisps as Christina says they can’t afford low fat foods. As a result, the mother is currently a dress size 26. …But she insists ‘it’s not my fault – healthy food is too expensive’. She feels her only hope is for the government to give her more money so she can afford to buy fruit and vegetables and join a gym. …She told the magazine: ‘I need more benefits to eat healthily and exercise. It would be good if the government offered a cash incentive for me to lose weight. I’d like to get £1 for every pound I lose, or healthy food vouchers…” She added that she can’t get a job to gain more money because she’s needed at home to care for her children… She explained: ‘There’s no way I could get a job. I don’t feel bad about the taxpayer funding my life…because I don’t treat myself or buy anything excessive.“
Wow. Maybe we should add gym memberships to our satirical list of government-manufactured “human rights.”
But the bigger issue is that this story shows the destructive impact of the welfare state. From the perspective of taxpayers, redistribution programs are a rip-off.
However, even from the perspective of recipients, the welfare state is bad news. Christina is not a sympathetic character, to be sure, but one can’t help but think that she would have become a much better person if she hadn’t been seduced into a life of government dependency.
In other words, big government is causing an erosion of social capital.
Heck, there’s even a TV show called “Benefits Street” on British TV. Though “poverty porn” would be a better description.
P.S. The Princess of the Levant gets credit for today’s blog post since she sent me the story about Christina.
And she also sent me this cartoon, which is a very good advertisement for the libertarian philosophy.
Sort of like this cartoon, but even better since it accurately identifies the hypocrisy that is found with some left wingers and some right wingers.
By the way, you may recognize the woman on the left. She’s already appeared in one of my posts mocking the statist mentality on gun control.