Robert Samuelson writes in Newsweek:
“The aging of America is not just a population change or, as a budget problem, an accounting exercise. It involves a profound transformation of the nature of government: commitments to the older population are slowly overwhelming other public goals; the national government is becoming mainly an income-transfer mechanism from younger workers to older retirees.
“Consider the outlook. From 2005 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will nearly double to 71 million; its share of the population will rise to 20 percent from 12 percent. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—programs that serve older people—already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget, projects the Congressional Budget Office. The result: a political impasse.”
Samuelson is pointing out a problem that we’ve known about for a long time now. FDR’s creation of the massive Social Security entitlement and ponzi scheme set this in motion and made it inevitable. However, Samuelson’s proposal is, to say the least, overly optimistic:
“As an antidote to this timidity, I propose that some public-spirited sugar daddy (the MacArthur Foundation? Warren Buffett?) sponsor a short book. A possible title: “Facing Up to an Aging America.” Six leading think tanks would be invited to participate: three liberal—the Brookings Institution, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Urban Institute—and three conservative—the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.”
I’ve seen no evidence that good books are capable of getting a significant number of people to face up to reality. The Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation are both good think tanks, but most people just couldn’t be bothered.
The fundamental problem is that solving the looming entitlement crisis is going to require people to take on more personal responsibility. Too many people just aren’t interested in having to worry about their retirement, health care, and other things that are “tough choices.”
A brain researcher is advising Democrats that they need to focus on voters’ emotions in order to win debates.
There’s nothing surprising about this. I’ve always thought that the liberal line is based entirely on appeal to emotion, rather than a rational view of factual evidence.
What’s more cushy to say: “everyone deserves health coverage” or “the free market economy is the best system for ensuring advanced health care and coverage in the long term.” That one’s easy. If you don’t know anything about economics, research and development, and the private sector, then the guy who denies that there should be “universal health insurance” is just an evil conservative.
Or how about this: “We must raise the minimum wage so everyone can have a living wage!” or “minimum wage requirements do nothing to improve the buying power of low wage earners, since the market must adjust to compensate for the increased pay with higher costs across the board.” Again, easy: The guy arguing for higher minimum wages “cares” about the “poor,” and the guy who understands economics, inflation, and the fact that there are jobs that simply do not warrant a “living wage” is “cruel” and “detests” people who “earn” their income.
The fact is, it’s usually easier for Democrats to win the “hearts” of voters because their arguments appeal to emotional responses rather than realities. In my view, a capitalistic policy is in fact more compassionate on the whole because it rewards hard work and innovation, whereas a more socialistic approach punishes achievement and encourages mediocrity. And since people are not taught basic economics or about market forces in public school, they tend not to care about the realities of socialism verses capitalism.
And it’s easy to say “tax the rich” to pay for whatever you want to “give” voters, like “free” health care or other forms of welfare, because most people aren’t “rich.” The guy trying to argue for personal freedom and responsibility — the freedom to fail or succeed — always has the tougher fight because, well, people just don’t care. They’re not that interested in freedom, if it means they have to be personally responsible for their own welfare.
A Culture of Passivity (Mark Steyn)
“…I’d prefer to say that the default position is a terrible enervating passivity. Murderous misfit loners are mercifully rare. But this awful corrosive passivity is far more pervasive, and, unlike the psycho killer, is an existential threat to a functioning society.”
Wanted: A culture of self-defense (Michelle Malkin)
Yesterday’s Virginia Tech massacre, where a single crazed student was able to kill over 30 of his peers in the span of two hours, is just one more example of the failure of gun control laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But will this event cause gun control proponents to rethink their position ensuring that only criminals can carry guns?
Suppose that one year ago, house bill 1572 were not squashed before it could get a floor vote:
[State quashed bill allowing handguns on campuses]
Clearly, squashing a bill reaffirming students’ Second Amendment rights didn’t make Virginia Tech “safer.”
Imagine if those students had their First Amendment rights infringed in college. The ACLU would have been there in a heartbeat. Where are those students’ civil rights now?
The attack on the Second Amendment rights of responsible United States citizens hasn’t just disarmed law abiding citizens; it has also had the effect of making them dependent upon government agents for their defense. And that’s the tragedy in the atrocity: that a single student could rampage for over two hours without being stopped by his peers.
Reading list: America Alone
Mark Steyn makes a compelling argument that Europe is already lost to Islamofacism, and the Islamofascists didn’t need to bomb a single pizza parlor to do it.
Steyn’s book is all about demographics. His argument is nigh unanswerable: if the folks in your country are reproducing at a rate lower than is necessary to even sustain your population, and you have a cradle-to-grave welfare state that requires you to have workers to tax, you’re going to have to let them come in and they will eventually own the place. This is already happening all over Europe.
Steyn also makes a solid case for something most of us already understand intuitively: our culture is superior to theirs. If you’re intent on holding to the indefensible position that all cultures are morally equal, you won’t like what you read in Steyn’s book.
All-in-all an excellent read. Steyn has a good sense of humor that fills every page. Even though he’s discussing what amounts to a coming New Dark Ages, you’ll find yourself giggling all the way through.
America Alone is easily the best political book of the year.