Book Review: Everything You Have: The Case Against Welfare by Jerome Huyler

(The American Declaration, P.O. Box 324, Brooklyn, NY 11219), 1980 • 268 pages • $4.70 paperback

Throughout our nation’s history, there have been people who used the government for their private advantage—a tariff here, a land grant there, a subsidy or two. But until recent decades, such special privileges were limited to a powerful few.

What has been the exception, however, is rapidly becoming the rule. Where Americans once sought a fair field with no favors, their descendents now demand special benefits.

This ever-widening system of legislated privilege, Jerome Huyler shows, is destroying the American dream and bringing our economy to its knees. One man’s special benefit is another man’s burden. As these burdens have grown beyond the taxpayers’ willingness to pay, the federal government has resorted to deficit financing. When these deficits are monetized, prices tend to rise. And when the Federal Reserve System responds by tightening credit, the economy is plunged into a recession.

But the price we pay for welfare exceeds all the taxes, all the Federal deficits, and all the jobs lost through inflationary recession. We also are losing our liberty. What the government subsidizes it soon controls, as Huyler illustrates with the Medicare/Medicaid system. When these subsidies lead to rising prices, every American is threatened with con-trois over his wages, prices, and the allocation of essential goods and services. What begins with compassion ends as coercion.

Huyler completes his case against welfare by appealing to the concept of human rights. In some of his most compelling passages, he shows how the welfare state, imposed in the name of human rights, violates the rights of the benefactors while it drains ambition and self-esteem from the beneficiaries. These recipients, reduced to a life of dependency, are the ultimate victims of welfare. And, Huyler concludes, it is the truly needy among these beneficiaries who would best be served by private philanthropy.