We've just started a video lecture series on Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" so while perusing the interwebs, we are naturally going to gravitate towards anything regarding the author and/or his famous book (Tocqueville fun fact: ostensibly, he took leave from his job with the French government to write about the American prison system.).
It has been said Tocqueville was a "prophet" as he was able to predict many things that would come to pass in American culture, society and politics.
Michael Barone's latest column quotes Tocqueville from the book:
Tocqueville, after describing in "Democracy in America" how Americans avoided the perils of equality by forming voluntary associations, engaging in local government and believing in religions that disciplined their pursuit of self-interest into a pursuit of virtue, painted the picture of a darker future.
Above a democratic populace, he writes, "an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, rigid, far-seeing and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that."
Situation sound familiar to you? It should. We are currently living in a day in age when the powers that be measure economic success by dependency on the government (see food stamps and unemployment benefits)
Don't believe us? Apart from the myriad of examples provided at the link above, the President's BFF got into the act Tuesday night at North Carolina State University touting the "stimulus" benefits of unemployment checks.
"Even though we had a terrible economic crisis three years ago, throughout our country many people were suffering before the last three years, particularly in the black community," Jarrett said. "And so we need to make sure that we continue to support that important safety net. It not only is good for the family, but it's good for the economy. People who receive that unemployment check go out and spend it and help stimulate the economy, so that's healthy as well."
And all this time, we thought the whole idea was to get people off unemployment benefits.
We suppose we shouldn't be so rough on Team O, though. If throwing $800 billion dollars of porkulus against the wall to see what sticks with the belief that it would keep unemployment under 8% and passing a 2,000+ page health care reform bill with countless as-yet-identified and still unrealized mandates and regulations with the thought that it will lower the cost of healthcare, then using food stamps and unemployment checks as some sort of barometer of economic success would certainly make sense. And people are offended that he is called the food stamp President.
It's become pretty obvious by now that Team O kinda likes the fact that so many people are on food stamps. Makes them feel good and if you are a statist at heart with a fundamental distrust of individualism, initiative and entrepeneurialship, why wouldn't it? After all, the warm fuzzy paternalistic glow that befalls our ruling class when all is quiet with the little folk down on the plantation is all that matters, right?