Government’s best intentions can be destructive to citizens

Human beings are truly remarkable animals, with boundless potential in many directions and a fierce will to survive. People can survive many forms of disaster: fire and flood, plague and privation, famine and war. They can survive the worst efforts of nature and man to destroy them.

But people who stand up to the worst things evil men do have no defense against what is inflicted by liberal governance, with the best of intentions in mind.

London burned in 1940, and dazzled the world with its brass under fire. London burned in 2011, at the hands of the grandsons of those who had stood up to Adolf Hitler and found nothing better to do with their time.

A very small taste of what would come later occurred early on in the FDR era, with a plan to help indigent coal miners in West Virginia in 1933.  A social conservative like the Dutch patroon that he was, Franklin wanted to provide simple and sustenance housing.

Eleanor wanted a model community, with modern housing, factories run by the government, and a neighborhood school. On paper, of course, it all looked terrific.

In reality, nothing worked out. The factories disturbed what remained of the local economy, the parents didn’t like the progressive ideas being taught to their children, and everything, of course, cost too much.

Houses budgeted at between $2,000 and $3,000 cost almost nine times the original estimate. “The prefab homes didn’t fit the climate [or … the foundations that had been poured for them],” Peter Collier and David Horowitz write in their book on the Roosevelts,  “and wound up costing sixteen thousand dollars apiece.”

What was worse was a disquieting change in the morale of these hardy Jacksonians, in whom self-reliance was bred in the bone.

“Too many homesteaders, Eleanor confessed in 1940, seemed to feel the salvation for all their problems was to turn to the government, and she was disappointed by their failure to share  responsibility,”  Joseph P. Lash, her friend and friendly biographer wrote in “Eleanor and Franklin,” his landmark best-seller.

“Her efforts to be helpful to them made them dependent and too easy on themselves, so much that on one occasion when the school bus broke down they brought it to the White House garage for repairs,” he wrote.

The moral seems to be that relief is like aspirin, best prescribed in small doses. Take two, and your headache gets better. Take the whole bottle, and you end up in the emergency room, having your stomach pumped. Which is what the U.S. public is doing right now.

Examiner columnist Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations; The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”

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