The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Greek Tragedy

There’s much that defenders of big government, expanding entitlements, and socialist democracies can learn from modern day Greece. Greece’s on-going struggles get only superficial coverage in our MSM, and the underlying causes of the country’s impending collapse are never fully explored. Mark Steyn makes a few pithy comments:
While President Obama was making his latest pitch for a brand new, even more unsustainable entitlement at the health care "summit," thousands of Greeks took to the streets to riot. An enterprising cable network might have shown the two scenes on a continuous split screen - because they're part of the same story. It's just that Greece is a little further along in the plot: They're at the point where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls. America is further upstream and can still pull for shore, but has decided instead that what it needs to do is catch up with the Greek canoe. Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter 20 (total societal collapse): The Greeks are at Chapter 17 or 18.

What's happening in the developed world today isn't so very hard to understand: The 20th century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they've reached the next stage in social democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1, or just over two kids per couple. Greece has a fertility rate of about 1.3: 10 grandparents have six kids have four grandkids - i.e., the family tree is upside down. Demographers call 1.3 "lowest-low" fertility - the point from which no society has ever recovered. And compared to Spain and Italy, Greece has the least worst fertility rate in Mediterranean Europe.

So you can't borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don't have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when 10 grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?

But it appears that the President Obama and his Democratic colleagues in the Congress are perfectly willing to “borrow against the future.” In fact, they’re anxious to double-down on profligate spending in the name of "social justice."

What they don’t appear to realize is that as each entitlement is enlarged, our ability to pay for it becomes increasingly questionable. The President’s solution appears to be taxing the rich, but his definition of “rich” is slippery and subject to modification (downward) as the voracious needs of each entitlement put more and more pressure on those of us who pay taxes. In the end, our children will be left holding the bag, but Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid will be long gone, secure in their delusion that they did what was just. In reality, historians may look back at this time and note that what they did was just … plain wrong.