In the Mirror


The Entitlements Mess: A Good World War To The Rescue

Blog From
December 29th, 2010

Man, people in Europe really know how to have a riot of a good time. You know, trashing and burning a ton of other people’s stuff because they’re upset. Like a little kid’s temper tantrum on a grownup psycho scale. This year, our cousins are raging over government budget cuts. Whacking benefits, regardless of the reason, is a non-starter across the Pond, if you don’t count all the fires the rioters ignite. After decades of generous handouts, they’ve come to view government largesse as their right. They can’t reconcile themselves to the fact that it’s time to pay the piper and he doesn’t take IOUs.

Other than providing fascinating clips on our nightly news shows, does the societal angst bursting out all over Europe effect us? After all, we are an isolationist Country. Oh, we kill a foreign dictator or two every now and then. And, there are occasional military forays into places with difficult names to pronounce. But, those kinds of things do little to produce a “We Are The World” feeling within our borders. U.S. geography and history keep us pretty much apart in both body and spirit. Hundred of years ago, people didn’t sail to these shores to be joiners. They came here to escape others. And, in our hearts, we’ve remained profoundly provincial.

But, it’s time we woke up and started smelling those faraway riots because they’ll be in our streets in the not too distant future. We are more our cousins than we’re not, with almost 50% of us living, to one extent or another, on Federal aid. As many people pay no income tax because they don’t owe any or they get it back in credits. In case we’re confused about what that means, our political leaders explicitly encourage us to live our dreams on our neighbor’s dime. I guess they don’t watch the nightly news.

It’s time to slap some cold water in our faces and face up to some difficult facts. Long-term, large-scale financial support from the government is a sucker’s game that no one can win. For a little while, politicians can keep the giveaways coming like there’s no tomorrow. But, inevitably, the money runs out because the shrinking few cannot support the growing many indefinitely. The miracle of the five loaves and two fishes feeding the multitudes has never been duplicated in a modern economy. Don’t look for it to happen here first. Since 1970, the per capita national debt has grown from $1,824.50 to $44,653.50. Today, the debt per taxpayer is $125,871. By the end of 2011, it will surpass the year’s gross domestic product. Tomorrow is here.

Our path to fiscal ruin is not merely strewn with irresponsible financial decisions. Politicians have accelerated the process by turning our melting pot into a seething cauldron boiling over with societal divisions. You hear it more and more. They use class warfare words and phrases to demonize those who disagree. Recent favorites include enemies, racists and angry mobs, among others. Our elected officials are willing to fracture society along political, religious and economic lines to achieve their goals. And, so far, too many of us are too willing to go along just to get ahead of the next guy. You can practically taste the riots.

All this makes you wonder whether today’s entitlement enthrallment springs from an absence of hardship as humans have known it for millennia. Apparently, prosperity produces a bunch of whiners who, in trying to get something for nothing, tear down what has been built up. It also spawns gobs of guilt-ridden, financially secure people who, to ease their discomfort, want to take your money from you.

If we’re going to restore fiscal sanity, we’ll have to get some hardship back in our lives. Like, taking a page or two from our recent history and starting World War III because nothing says privation like rationing. Then there are the millions of people who’ll be blown to bits on battlefields. And the colossal civilian collateral damage in cities and towns. That’ll put a dent in our income potential and create mountains of economic wretchedness. War’s also good for the melting pot. Fighting a common enemy goes a long way to bringing people back together.

Of course, we’ll have to ban nukes or risk ending humanity altogether. But, even at that, the whining will stop.

See you in the mirror.

Posted in In the Mirror