Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reagan's 1980 Speech

All you ever hear about Reagan's 1980 speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi is that he used the phrase "state's rights." A recent National Review column had a link to the only known recording of that speech, which is here.

What I found really surprising is that while we're constantly reminded that Reagan once invoked the "welfare queen" in a Cadillac, his Mississippi speech took a very different view of welfare recipients -- a view that didn't seem to be calculated to appeal to the prejudices of his white Mississippi audience. Go to about 26:00 on the recording, and Reagan says:
Over recent years with the best intentions, they've create a vast bureaucracy . . . to try and solve all the problems and eliminate all the human misery that they can. They have forgotten that when you create a government bureaucracy, no matter how well-intentioned it is, almost instantly its primary priority becomes preservation of the bureaucracy.

And I know from our own experience in California when we reformed welfare. I know that one of the great tragedies in welfare in American today -- and I don’t believe the stereotype, after what we did, of people in need who are there simply because they prefer to be there. We found the overwhelming majority would like nothing better than to be out, with jobs for the future, and out here in the society with the rest of us. The trouble is, again, that bureaucracy has them so economically trapped that there’s no way they can get away. And they’re trapped because that bureaucracy needs them as a clientele to preserve the jobs of the bureaucrats themselves.


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