This discussion is, of course, a belabored example of why and how socialists do not like socialism. Indeed, statism is not a desired outcome, but rather more a strategy for obtaining power or winning acclaim as one of the caring, by offering the narcotic of promising millions something free at the expense of others who must be seen as culpable and obligated to fund it — entitlements fueled by someone else’s money that enfeebled the state, but in the process extended power, influence, and money to a technocratic class of overseers who are exempt from the very system that they have advocated.
So what is socialism? It is a sort of modern version of Louis XV’s “Après moi, le déluge” – an unsustainable Ponzi scheme in which elite overseers, for the duration of their own lives, enjoy power, influence, and gratuities by implementing a system that destroys the sort of wealth for others that they depend upon for themselves.
Once the individual develops a dependency on food stamps, free medical care, subsidized housing, all sorts of disability or unemployment compensation, education credits, grants, and zero-interest loans — the entire American version of the European socialist breadbasket — then expectations for far more always keep rising, with a commensurate plethora of new justifications, usually in the realm of someone else having more than the recipient, always unjustly so. The endangered aid recipient is always seen as being pushed off a cliff in a wheel chair — therefore, “they” can afford to give “me” more; things are not “fair”; there is no “equality.”
Cutting back $2,500 a month in combined benefits and subsidies to $2300 a month is always seen as far more heartless and cruel than not in the first place giving someone without subsidies a mere $200 a month. For every dollar taken, two are demanded. And that creates a powerful constituency for whom the shrillest rhetoric of oppression is, well, never too shrill. Revolutions are not fueled by the very poor seeking their daily bread, but by those on entitlements that revolt at the thought of less to come. A rioting Greek today is far better off than his parents in 1973 when I first arrived in the country; and he would remain far better off even under an “austerity” plan. But his expectations have soared geometrically with each euro received, and he now has convinced himself that not to have more is to have nothing.
History is not kind to such collective states of mind. Pay an Athenian in the fifth century BC a subsidy to go to the theater; and in the fourth century BC he is demanding such pay to vote in the assembly as well — and there is not to be a third century free democratic polis. Extend to a Roman in the first century BC a small grain dole, and by the late first century AD he cannot live without a big dole, free entertainment in a huge new Coliseum, and disbursements of free coined money. Let the emperor Justinian try cutting back the bloated bureaucracy in sixth century AD Constantinople and he wins the Nika riots that almost destroy a civilization from within even as it is beset by hosts of foreign enemies.
Social Security started out as a few dollars a month to the elderly, in their last two or three years of life, to ensure that they could feed themselves without the indignity of borrowing from their children. It has morphed into someone living well for twenty years on far more money taken than was put in — or a young family with a dyslexic child on “disability” for life. To cut any for the latter would cause far more riot and mayhem than not to have given the former anything in the first place — despite the fact that the 21st century recipient was far less needy and got far more than the early 20th century recipient who needed more and got less.
What stops socialism?
I fear bankruptcy alone.
Who are socialists?
There are none. Only technocratic overseers who wish to give someone else’s money to others as a means of winning capitalist-style lifestyles and power for themselves — in a penultimate cycle of unsustainable spending. When this latest attempt at statism is over, Barack Obama will enjoy a sort of Clintonism, a globe-trotting post officium lifestyle of multimillion dollar honoraria to fund a lifestyle analogous to “two Americas” John Edwards, “earth in the balance” Al Gore, a tax-exempt yachting John Kerry, a revolving-door Citibank grandee like Peter Orszag, or a socialist Strauss-Kahn in $20,000 suits doling out billions to the “poor.”
That is just the way it has been and will always be.
Out West Update
I thank readers for security tips in the aftermath of an awful month of burglaries and thefts, and plan to implement many of them, since one cannot flee and give in to the tides of lawlessness. Two postscripts: this week Fresno was declared the car theft capital of the United States, and Selma, two miles away, was found to be a breeding ground (as in specimens found) for the West Nile Virus carrying mosquito. So I am wondering whether the steering wheel “club” of the 1980s is on its way back, along with DDT? (PPS: I remember my grandfather’s stories that there was out here malaria on occasion in the late 1890s before the advent of the Mosquito Abatement District and pesticides, and horse thievery was once epidemic: so are we postmoderns becoming premodern, as 2011 in decline resembling 1890 on the upswing?
PJMedia Flashback: Laughing at the contradictions of Socialism in America