It is one thing to charge our government with helping us band together as citizens to take care of the most vulnerable. The mentally ill, for example, who do not have strong private support, truly deserve our help in a civilized society, and we cannot realistically rely on private charity to meet that need. It is another thing entirely to demand that the state take care of the rest of us--able-bodied, sound-minded, once-independent Americans--guaranteeing our wages and providing our medicines for free. This is to treat us like children. There is little freedom in the nanny state, and we can expect little happiness there, either.
It is one thing to entrust the government with the financing of massive relief efforts, such as rebuilding a city in the wake of a hurricane. But it is another thing to ask the government to meet every social want and need, from our desire for symphony orchestras to our longing for amateur sports leagues. The attitude is depressingly common that, if something is important to us, the government ought to provide it. The
ever-growing social welfare net diminishes our freedom by giving us less power to solve our own problems. It also places our social preferences in the hands of public servants--well-intentioned, perhaps, but with preferences of their own to pursue with our dollars.
It is obviously appropriate to invest the government with the responsibility to protect our nation against real dangers, such as the invasion of a foregin army or an attack on our interests abroad. But this is not the same thing as expecting governments--creating new bureaucracies in their
earnestness--to pacify us with ineffective security measures or to protect us from ourselves in the course of normal risks in our day-to-day lives. The dignity of the goal of defeating worldwide terrorism is hopelessly degraded when, in the next breath, we declare war on helmetless motorcycle riding and secondhand smoke. Osama bin Laden is a threat to America; trans fats in our food are an annoyance. We need to protest when our government fails to makes [sic] these distinctions and uses spurious logic to justify trading away our happiness. [emphasis mine].