Indeed, despite these glaring drawbacks inherent to welfare, the institution has continued to flourish, thanks in large to propaganda and spin. Just as the futuristic world of Harrison Bergeron committed oppression in the name of a high principle, welfare in America is attached to its share of pleasing terminology. For example, the semantics developed and employed by politicians made the case of robbing Peter to pay Paul appear socially responsible! Indeed, absurd as this proposition is in actuality, it has proven French philosopher Gustave Le Bon’s observation right. He famously noted that “in politics things are less important than their names. To disguise even the most absurd ideas with well-chosen words often is enough to gain their acceptance.” (Payne, 2005) What we see in America today is plenty of welfare schemes, attractively covered up in less controversial labels.
To cite an example, let us consider Social Security. Its marketing strategy was carefully constructed to hide the American public from understanding that “Social Security is simply a pay-as-you-go welfare system. Every effort was made to use terminology that would inspire confidence rather than arouse suspicion.” (Payne, 2005) Often, despite their acute financial adversity, people find it disgraceful to avail of welfare. So what the administrators have done is to introduce these benefits as their “constitutional rights” or “legal entitlements”. Critics of welfare point out that such easing of barriers has made the public lethargic in solving their hardships through their own industry. It just goes to show the adverse social impact of propaganda bordering on misinformation. In Harrison Bergeron we see the drastic outcomes which skillful propaganda can achieve. There, Hazel and George Bergeron are too numb or too distracted to even contemplate their tragedies. The dangerous tendencies of American welfare might one day get the society to that dire state of affairs.
“Capitalism is sometimes criticized because the techniques of promotion and advertising that go along with it may distort culture. Liberal critics in particular complain that self-serving companies push their products incessantly, creating spurious demands and unhealthy values. Seldom is it acknowledged that government agencies do the same thing. And government can be more enticing because it is generally giving things away rather than selling them. If General Motors dupes you into craving chrome tailfins, you still have to be willing to shell out money to get them. But to get a government subsidy all you generally have to do is be willing to take other people’s money.” (Payne, 2005)
Finally, one need not look far and wide for the obvious failures of American welfare schemes. Statistics pertaining to access to quality healthcare or education shows up the lack of substance behind government propaganda. For example, nearly 50 million Americans have health insurance. This is a national shame, for despite being an economical super power, the nation lags behind Western European nations in terms of standard of living parameters. Further inefficiencies in the distribution of welfare are revealed when we consider that America spends more per capita on health care than any other industrialized country. So what we have is high costs, lofty words and poor outcomes. This is a classic illustration of conspiracy through propaganda.
To conclude, if force and repression are the tools of mind control employed in the eerie world of Harrison Bergeron, the American media achieves the same through a bloodless coup, namely, political propaganda.