Lets Wreck the Gray Train
OCTOBER 01, 1962 by EDWARD P. COLESON
Dr. Coleson is Professor of Economics at
A Proposal to Stop Piling Burdens on an Already Overloaded Conveyance.
Let’s wreck the "gravy train" before it ruins our country. Independent, self-reliant men and women, who were willing to stand on their own feet, do a day’s work, and look after themselves, made
The facts are almost overwhelming. Starting from depression days the list of federal dependents has been growing continually. Five years ago Senator Byrd said that 37 million people were then receiving federal payments. To these would have to be added an unknown number of relatives plus a good many others who were benefiting indirectly from government handouts. The Senator warned us "… the spread of government paternalism is frightening."
Clamoring to Get on Board
But Americans are a complacent people and don’t frighten easily—certainly not as long as the stream of checks from
The resulting situation is ridiculous and would be funny if the future of our country were not at stake. Seemingly no one is immune. The educators of the nation who ought to know better are pleading for their share of the federal bounty as a right and a good many others can think of equally convincing reasons why they should be included. Certainly the rest of us could just as logically demand "reservations" as those already "on board," but the practical fact is that the conveyance is already seriously overloaded.
The resulting spectacle reminds the writer of a little narrow gauge train he once boarded out in the bush in
The simple truth is that government is not productive : we, the people, must support ourselves plus Uncle Sam and all his poor relatives. But, as many of us have noticed, often Uncle’s hangers-on seem more prosperous than the rest of us, and parasitism no longer carries even a stigma : it has become a way of life. The net result is that the decreasing number of producers find it harder and harder to maintain themselves and all the free loaders, until they too are tempted to give up the struggle and run to
If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements… as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must… be glad to obtain subsistenceby hiring ourselves (to the government) to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers.
A large fraction of every budget simply goes to placate the pressure groups—buy our votes with our own money.
Most of our fellow countrymen know this and have known it all along. Their justification usually is that we might as well get our share while it’s going around. Indeed, in the tomorrows when the historian takes pen in hand to describe the Decline and Fall of the United States, (should present trends continue) he will have to record the fact that the fault lay mainly with good, well-meaning people. The demagogues could never have gotten their way had not a multitude of respectable people gone along because it was easy, profitable, and the thing being done—"fellow travelers" on the road to ruin. Let’s each start a one-man campaign to close out the federal give-away program by pledging ourselves to stand on our own feet and encouraging our friends to do the same.