By American standards, it’s hard to fathom the tragedy that took place in France because of a heat wave. More than 10,000 people died — mostly the elderly and sickly — when temperatures reached record highs approaching triple digits and stayed high for several days.
Heat waves in the United States have been known to cause similar deaths, especially among the elderly in big cities, but the numbers rarely approach what took place in France this summer. One of the possible reasons for the tragedy is closely linked to the socialist nature of French society.
It’s something even the French have discussed, albeit gingerly, as hundreds of corpses remained unclaimed. Basically, in France — and increasingly in America — citizens look to the state to take care of themselves and their families. Many French people blamed their government for not doing enough, to which the government shot back that it is not its fault that people don’t look in on their older relatives.
“Is it normal that last night there were 300 people who hadn’t been buried because the family had not turned up to claim the body? Is that the government’s fault?” asked one top French official, as quoted by the BBC. “There are 300 families who have not yet realized that they have a granny or a mother who is dead.”
In cradle-to-grave welfare states, people expect the government to tend to every problem. But the faceless government cannot be compassionate or kind. It cannot tend to every need. That’s an impossibility. So instead the result is callousness — people not tending to the needs of their own family because they think someone else is responsible for the task.
“Socialism teaches you to avoid taking care of other people,” argued radio talk-show host Dennis Prager, in a Townhall.com column. “The state will — why should you? If people in France and elsewhere in Europe take less care of their aging parents, it is because they are taught from childhood to allow others, i.e., the state, to take care of everybody.”
It’s a compelling point, and one that Americans, and New Mexicans in particular, ought to consider as we move toward a bigger, more expansive “all-caring” government.