The Divisive Logic of the Welfare State

It is feeding forces of nativism in the West, including in compassionate Canada


The 21st C West is experiencing a 19th C worthy nativist spasm that few thought imaginable two decades ago. There are many reasons for it of course: The rise of global terrorism, the

Images of Pills via Foter

alleged ravages of globalization etc. But one big reason is the welfare state. Indeed, protecting social programs from foreign moochers has become the biggest rallying cry for restrictionists in Europe, America and even Canada – the paragon of human compassion, I note in my column at The Week.

Whether immigrants really strain – rather than strengthen – the welfare state is debatable. (In America, where the welfare state is relatively smaller, all credible studies suggest that they strengthen it. The situation may vary in different European countries.)

But what is not debatable is that the welfare state has failed in its central project to create a new kind of person whose humane commitments are driven not by parochial attachments to self, family, and clan – but a more cosmopolitan sensibility. In fact, far from making people more benevolent, just the theoretical possibility that foreigners may flock to these social programs is generating a fierce us-versus-them politics—showing that the more you try and take self-interest out of politics, the more this interest asserts itself in ever uglier ways.

And this is the case not only in America and Europe but also in Canada. Indeed, the lengths that this sweet land of maple syrup goes to protect its social programs – especially its national health system – would give even Scrooge a sour taste in his mouth.

Go here to read the piece.