There’s a new book online called The Conservative Nanny State, authored by Dean Baker. I highly recommend it, as it states what true libertarians – as opposed to vulgar libertarians (a phrase coined by Kevin Carson) – have been saying all along: that the regulatory/welfare state is not anathema to the rich, but a blessing.. And to the extent that it has effects favorable to the poor, these effects come at the price of liberty, and are poor substitutes for the assortment of voluntary forms of welfare provision that existed before the rise of the New Deal or Great Society, and continue to work now.
Even Social Security is largely a wealth transfer from the young to the relatively wealthy elderly (not in income terms, but in actual wealth – home ownership, etc.), and more a middle-class to middle-class transfer at that. And of course the Social Security Administration’s cut of the pie is a whole lot bigger than it need be, as it has no (easy) way of being held accountable, in addition to being granted an unjust monopoly on the provision of welfare, which could be a whole lot more pluralist, flexible and efficient.
Conservatives tend to ignore the aspect of the welfare state that benefits the wealthy. Baker’s book details the ways in which “free trade” agreements and so called “free market” conditions actually mask subsidies and special protections for the rich and corporations (who, contra Ayn Rand, are hardly a “persecuted minority”). Whether it be intellectual property, corporate welfare, eminent domain or tax breaks (not a subsidy strictly speaking, but a privelege nonetheless, and one that I don’t wish to revoke, but extend), the modern welfare – and especially warfare – state is a boon and not a bust for the upper echelons of society.
(Hat tip: Kevin Carson of Mutualist Blog.)