Friday, Apr 18, 2014

America has passed the point of no return

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:57 PM

It is said by many serious observers that the 2012 presidential election will be the most significant election we've ever had. They say America is on the line. This is not an exercise in hyperbole – but fact. I would argue it already is too late.

No matter who wins the upcoming election, America has passed the point of no return. To be blunt, too many of us have become addicted to Kool-Aid. Unfortunately, younger citizens – those up to the age of 65 – have no appreciable knowledge of what life was like before our society and the economy were subsumed by government.

By the end of Lyndon Johnson administration 226 of his Great Society programs were enacted, as the result of the Democratic landslide in 1964. FDR's New Deal and President Obama's Obamacare (two other Democratic landslides) became bookends to the Great Society's equally unaffordable programs. Their projected costs and unintended consequences were grossly underestimated also.

Many sensible recommendations were made not too long ago which would have frozen federal spending at 2008 levels to make a balanced budget plausible. Can anyone seriously believe that living at 2008 spending levels was "austerity?" (Government spending is now at twice the level it was in 2001.) The recommendations of President Obama's Bowles-Simpson fiscal Commission were ignored by the President. The Cato Institute has offered a serious plan to eliminate the deficit within 10 years. Scores of sensible budget balancing plans have been offered over the years.

After our founding, our country would move politically in one direction or the other after an election, depending on the populist rant in vogue at the time, but then we'd self-correct and settle back to somewhere near the middle. Not so in recent decades.

The decisive move the electorate made to the left during the New Deal era never really self-corrected back to the middle. Personal freedoms associated with individualism and limited government gave way to authoritative collectivism. Whenever the going got tough most voters would cede personal responsibility in favor of government programs in hopes of greater safety or security. The fact that this required the government to incur more debt, or that somebody else's tax dollars were paying the bill were of no consequence.

Uneducated or ill-informed citizens never quite grasp the concept of unsustainable cost. (Consider the American appetite for sub-prime loans and credit cards.) So politicians pander to the voters to get re-elected. It worked then, and it works now.

America has been on a Greek-like trajectory for decades, and "bankruptcy" is inevitable. And our immigration policies haven't helped. We open our borders to government dependent minorities who become reliable Democrats.

Dialectic materialism is at the apex of this election cycle as liberal progressives hammer home the Marxian strategy of material class struggle, which conservatives now call class warfare.

All first world countries have lost their mojo as they mistook social programs and debt spearheaded by an authoritative centralized government as economic progress. Progressives in Europe and the U.S. unfailingly depict private sector job providers as dangerous capitalists who deprive ordinary folks of their rights, their prosperity and their voice.

They always come down on the side of more government debt. It is an article of faith with them that a government that lives within its means is a government that is unresponsive to the needs of its people, and retards growth.

In my view there will be no turning back to a self-reliant society. Too many generations have come and gone since the New Deal. It is now in our DNA to expect a centralized government and a powerful bureaucracy to have all the answers. The notion of a federal republic as envisioned by the Constitution is becoming quaint. This relegates the States, the average guy and the private sector into being second class citizens, rather than having any undelegated "powers" as envisioned by Article I Section 8.

I would argue that the vast majority of under skilled, under educated and self-identified minorities have no desire to reinvigorate government at the state and local levels. Why should they? They see a massive federal government ruled by the Democratic Party as their protector, benefactor and paymaster.

The educated among us know that spending is out of control. Something has to give – or more accurately – someone has to give back. And that includes all of us. Conservatives should know better. Democrats keep offering the same agenda decade after decade, and a majority of us have bought the Kool-Aid. Forty percent of all federal spending is borrowed money, because close to half of U.S. households pay no income tax. (They don't care. But they expect their earned income tax credit "refund" check every year.)

We all owe $187,000 per household to the government, as we just passed the $16 trillion debt threshold- and that includes those who pay no income taxes and just take from others. Most of that debt is because of all of us and our "entitlements." These numbers are incomprehensible to this writer. (Under the Obama administration we have incurred more debt since our founding through the Bush years.) As reported by the UK Telegraph, way back in 2009, they were horrified to discover Great Britain's welfare payments alone exceeded their income tax receipts. We are in good European company.

Our intractable problem is that we – and this means Republicans too – have all become used to these goodies. They have become an integral part of our lifestyle. Liberal progressives have conned themselves into thinking this can go on forever.

French dramatist Moliere, who delighted in attacking hypocrisy, observed way back in 1643, "The great deceivers of the world begin by deceiving themselves. They have to, or they wouldn't be so good at it."

John Reiniers, a regular columnist for Hernando Today, lives in Spring Hill.

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