[Americans] were deeply imbued with the traditions and maxims of individual resourcefulness---a people who grimly treasured in their anthology of political wisdom the words of Grover Cleveland, who vetoed a Federal loan of only ten thousand dollars for drought relief in Texas, saying: "I do not believe that the power and duty of the general Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering . . . A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people. . . . Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our National character."(The People's Pottage, p. 55)
Which was only one more way of saying a hard truth that was implicit in the American way of thinking, namely, that when people support the government they control government, but when the government supports the people it will control them.
Americans used to take pride in supporting themselves, in freedom. Today, they can't give away their freedom fast enough, and crave the paternalistic protection of the government. Just compare America's embarrassing reaction to Hurricane Katrina, in which many shamelessly demanded Federal aid.
We have become a nation of beggars. And self-righteous beggars, at that.