Friday, September 7, 2012

Shrug's Guide to the 2012 Presidential Election - The Entitlement Vote

This election, more than any I can personally recall, stands to be greatly impacted by a previously uncategorized group of voters.  Americans today have a greater sense of undeserved entitlement than ever before.  This isn't a new trend.  Woodrow Wilson and FDR were successful at changing the middle class mindset from that of self sustaining and ambitious entrepreneurs to willing serfs seeking a consistent check from the government.  What is somewhat new in the trend is the outward nature of this moocher class.  When I was a kid, my mother raised myself and my two sisters alone with no financial support from my father, much less the Federal government.  She would have cut off her right arm before taking any sort of welfare.  To her, welfare was for people who can't.  She could.  It was harder for her than many, but harder was not an excuse to accept an handout paid for on the backs of others who also struggled and worked hard to earn it.  Mama raised my sisters and I to think and feel - and live - the same way.

Today, one in seven Americans are on food stamps.  I understand that there are people who desperately need assistance and the thought of kids and elderly people going hungry turns my stomach.  But I also understand (as does anyone reading this who is even moderately honest with themselves) that there is a tremendous waste of money in these programs through rampant fraud and abuse.  With our country in such financial dire straits, one would think the Government would be attempting to reel in these abuses.  One would think.  The Obama administration ran ads for months (at a cost of neatly $3 million) encouraging people to enroll.

I was brought up to believe that accepting such assistance was a last resort.  These ads certainly indicate otherwise.  In fiscal year 2011, the federal government spent more than $75 billion on food stamps, up from $34.6 billion at the end of fiscal 2008, according to the USDA.  I'd call this one of the most successful ad campaigns in history.

These entitlements come with a cost that many fail to see or simply choose to ignore.  All one has to do is objectively look at the state of the European economy to see where we're heading.  Recent history not enough proof?  Consider the consequences for the ancient Roman empire.  The privilege of being a Roman citizen offered entitlements that make President Obama look like Hetty Green by comparison.  The system was supported by outsiders, but as more and more people earned citizenship, more outsiders were required to support the system.  As these additional outsiders eventually became entitled citizens themselves, the system became incapable of sustaining itself and collapsed.  Sound familiar?

So why would any responsible government seek so not only sustain the moocher class, but to grow it?  And why would anyone with the most minute sense of pride actually sign up for it if they really didn't need it?  The Occupy Wall Street movement is a good place to start.  It was made clear by these shining examples of objectivity and self reliance that the reward for serfdom is FREE STUFF!  If that is the case, then the reward to the serf the masters is a loyal base (with their hands perpetually extended palms up) to keep the masters in power.

The simple and painfully obvious truth is that when one's self interest is focused on getting free things from the government, loyalty to the concept of capitalism fades.  Sadly, as long as there are proud producers, there will be a government of looters passing confiscatory laws to take from them and deliver their spoils to the moochers - and the entitlement voter populace grows.

If you are an entitlement voter, your choice is clear.  If you aren't, your choice is even clearer.