The Public Interest

The ideology of entitlements

Alvin L. Schorr

Spring 1987

TAKEN at its broadest, the conservative movement sweeping the western world seems deeply ideological—against the welfare state, against government interference, and in particular, against government ownership, management, and regulation. Many of the detailed measures that governments take, however, cannot be explained by such principles and, indeed, often run counter to them. Even deeper ideologies may come into play. Accident seems to account for much, especially accidents of historical development and momentary political advantage. “There are times,” a not-to-be-named university president once said, “when you have to rise above principle.”

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