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American advocates fretted over ethnic "mongrelization," but that became plainly unsupportable after World War II.
Nonetheless, the deeper logic that produced such policies remains very much in force, both in Europe and America.
One senses it in divisive, us-against-them discussions over health care, education, and Social Security.
It is perhaps most evident in discussions of immigration, where deceptively simple cost-benefit analyses of adding new citizens can be conducted.
European nations are as famous for their restrictive immigration policies as they are for their lavish social-welfare benefits. Indeed, the latter helps explain the former.
In the United States, arguments against immigration rarely fail to advance, in one form or another, the idea that "immigration is not a self-financing proposition."
And arguments usually mention "high profile tales of immigrant-related welfare rip-offs," to quote a brochure from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Within the framework of the welfare state, such crude calculations of human value perversely come under the rubric of responsible governing: If "we" are supporting each other through massive public entitlements, then "we" must police, patrol, and purge individuals and groups who are likely to cost more than they contribute.
Advanced in the name of compassion and caring, the welfare state turns every individual life into a public policy matter and creates a society that must increasingly regiment its members.
Supporters of the welfare state like to say that "taxes are the price we pay for civilization." They argue that the only way to create a fair society is to fund health care, education, retirement pensions, and the like is through public moneys.
But as the recent revelations from Sweden remind us, that price is often a very dear one. Indeed, it is sometimes civilization itself.