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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Control is the Purpose of the Dole System


Let’s give Donald Trump some credit. With his termination of federal money to so-called sanctuary cities, which a federal judge just declared unconstitutional, at least Trump is showing us the real purpose of the dole society.

No, it has nothing to do with loving the “poor, needy, and disadvantaged,” as both liberals and conservatives have maintained ever since the advent of the American welfare state in the 1930s. It’s about control. Put people on the dole and you control them. Just like heroin. Once a person or a governmental unit goes on the dole, he or it will do whatever is necessary to remain on the dole, convinced that he or it would die without it.

Once someone goes on the dole, he falls under the control of the dole provider, much like a heroin addict falls under the control of his heroin dealer. Like the heroin addict, the dole recipient becomes passive, submissive, compliant, and obedient for fear that if he doesn’t do what the dole provider wants, the dole provider will terminate his dole, which, in the mind of the dole recipient, would be the same as killing him.

We see this phenomenon all across America, not just with the welfare-state dole but also with the warfare-state dole.

Recall the Vietnam War, the civil war in which the U.S. government embroiled the United States in the 1960s. Like the U.S. government’s wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East today, it was destined to be a forever war — one that the U.S. government would still be fighting today had it not been for the antiwar protesters and demonstrators, most of whom were in the teens and early twenties. It was those people who succeeded in bringing that illegal and unconstitutional intervention to an end.

Where are those protesters today? They are silent, passive, submissive, obedient, and compliant in the face of the forever wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East. Surely, most of them don’t buy into the notion that the “terrorists are coming to get us” any more than they bought into the notion that the “communists are coming to get us.”

So, why the difference? Why aren’t those people who succeeded in getting the United States out of Vietnam, after more than 58,000 needless deaths of American servicemen, protesting and demonstrating against the Pentagon’s and CIA’s forever wars today? Why are they instead so effusive about thanking the Pentagon and the CIA for their “service” to America and for protecting our rights and freedoms from people who pose no threat to our rights and freedoms? Why are they so reluctant to oppose the extraordinary, totalitarian powers that are now wielded by the U.S. national-security establishment, including the powers to arrest, kidnap, incarcerate, torture, or assassinate American citizens, all without due process of law and trial by jury? Why are they so passive in the face of massive federal spending and debt that threatens to bankrupt the nation?

It could be tiredness and old age but I think there is a better explanation. It’s because of the dole. Those 1960s antiwar protesters are now on Social Security and Medicare. Now on the dole, they are scared to death that the government will get angry at them and cut off their dole. In their minds, that’s equivalent to killing them. Most Social Security recipients simply cannot imagine that life is possible without the dole.

And they might well be right to be concerned. U.S. officials would have no compunctions about retaliating against seniors who object to their forever wars any more than they have reservations about retaliating against cities who object to their immigration policies.

The master politician Franklin Roosevelt knew exactly what he was doing when he got Social Security enacted into law in the 1930s, after Americans had lived without this socialist program for more than 100 years. He knew that once he got people on the dole, he had them right where he wanted them — under the control of the government.

Look at Norfolk, Virginia. It is one of the many U.S. cities on the warfare dole. It has the largest Navy base in the world as well as one of NATO’s two Strategic Command headquarters. According to Wikipedia, the Navy station “compromises over 62,000 active duty personnel, 75 ships, and 132 aircraft. The region also plays an important role in defense contracting.”

What are the chances that people in Norfolk would ever take the lead in protests and demonstrations against the Pentagon’s and CIA’s forever wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or against the warfare-state way of life itself? The chances are nil. People in Norfolk would be scared to death of losing their warfare-state dole. Like people in other cities on the warfare dole, they have convinced themselves that their dole is essential to “national security.”

More than 50 years ago, President Eisenhower pointedly referred to this phenomenon in his Farewell Address and described it as a grave threat to America’s liberties and democratic values. The situation has only gotten progressively worse with each passing decade.

That’s what the dole — both welfare and warfare — does to people. It destroys their sense of independence, self-reliance, self-esteem, and can-do. It converts them into passive, submissive, compliant, and obedient servants of the welfare-warfare state, no matter how much it is destroying their liberty and well-being as well as the liberty and well-being of their children and grandchildren and of their country.

The so-called sanctuary cities have won the first round against Donald Trump by securing a court injunction prohibiting him from terminating their dole. But make no mistake about it: If Trump succeeds in overturning the injunction on appeal, faced with a termination of their dole city officials in every sanctuary city in America will quickly fall into line rather than lose their dole.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.