A central theme in The Road to Serfdom is that the interventionist state transforms the character of the people. Mark Steyn puts a highlighter pen to the issue in his autopsy of the Greek collapse. Heres a snip, the whole thing is a treat:
When seeking to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, President Ford liked to say: A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. Which is true enough. But theres an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isnt big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek peoples response is: Nuts to that. Public sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months work: for many of them the work day ends at 2:30 p.m. And, when they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?
We hard-hearted small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the Greek protests make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than the socially equitable communitarianism of big government: Once a chaps enjoying the fruits of government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, and all the rest, he couldnt give a hoot about the general societal interest; hes got his, and to hell with everyone else. Peoples sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense.