Up Front

Does Government Expansion Equal Moral Decline?

William A. Galston

During the past fifty years, the role of the federal government has expanded significantly, and a steadily rising percentage of Americans participate in at least one program that provides direct benefits. That these changes pose serious fiscal challenges is beyond doubt. The question is whether they represent a moral decline as well.

AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt believes that they do. In a major piece he argues that we have become a “nation of takers,” weakening the self-reliant individualism at the heart of the American ethos. In a response, I take the other side of the argument: most (though not all) of the new responsibilities the federal government has taken on are consistent with, and do not undermine, our distinctive national culture.

This weekend, the Wall Street Journal is publishing condensed versions of Eberstadt’s article and my response. You can read them at the links below:

Read Eberstadt’s article » 
Read my response »