Saturday, September 01, 2012

The GI Bill vs. Other Government Programs

Liberals like the GI Bill, in part, I think, because they think its military application is a cudgel with which to beat conservatives--"if you like this entitlement program, then why don't you like this other one, racist?"  Whenever you hear such tortured "logic", though, remember the following:
What this complaint of hypocrisy ignores, however, is a crucial distinction between government programs to which beneficiaries have contributed, such as the GI Bill, and open-ended entitlement programs that require no such contribution. Assume for a moment that after the Civll War all freed slaves received "40 acres and a mule." Would anyone, even President Obama or Paul Begala, seriously claim that former slaves who had become successful later in life owed their success to the government program and not to their own sacrifice and hard work? Well, maybe, but would anyone listen to them if they did?

The GI Bill, like the hypothetical 40 acres and a mule, was not an entitlement or an example of beneficent government generosity. It was partial compensation for sacrifices made for and services rendered to the nation. Finding an "irony" in Republican proposals to scale back massive federal borrowing and debt, including funds for higher education, even though the fathers of many current party leaders benefitted from the GI Bill requires assuming that if one limited government program compensating one defined group of people for a limited time is good, all government benefits are good; that if some spending at one time was good, more spending all the time is better.

That "narrative" is more mythical than anything coming out of the Republican convention.

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