What this is, is the opening shots in the inevitable decay of a Socialist economy. When productivity starts dropping and there are fewer resources available for redistribution, the leadership notes that the people aren’t working as hard as they used to. The obvious conclusion is that the people have gotten lazy, and the nomenklatura then start on a campaign to get people to work harder and more effectively. Look up some political posters from the USSR of the Twenties and Thirties for examples. [Emphasis added]
That’s a stunning observation from Ric’s Rulez. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if maybe he’d missed the mark.
In the Twenties and Thirties, the Soviet Union was still an empire on the rise. It was industrializing rapidly (although at a horrible price) and was centralizing control of the peasantry (again at a horrible price). If an empire doesn’t mind killing a few tens of millions of its own people — or “breaking a few eggs,” to use Lenin’s memorable euphemism — it’s amazing what one can accomplish.
No, the Soviet model Ric made me think of this morning, was Mikhail Gorbachev’s.
When Gorbachev assumed power in 1985, one of his first acts as General-Secretary of the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Commies do like their titles), was to launch an anti-alcohol campaign. Americans, we eat too much and watch too much TV. Russians, they drink until they just can’t drink anything more. And then that’s when they peel the foil top off the really cheap hooch. “Vodka” comes from the Russian for “little water,” and they’re not kidding.
According to the link in the last graf, alcoholism
was a major scourge in Soviet society, linked to high rates of child-abuse, suicide, divorce, absenteeism, and accidents on the job, and contributing to a rise in mortality rates particularly among Soviet males that was detected in the 1970s.
That’s no way to run a rising empire. In fact, by the time Gorbachev came around, the Soviet Union was already in the second decade of its slow, fall onto the ash heap of history.
Well, here we are in America, a quarter century later, all fat and happy. And I don’t just mean we’re overweight and oblivious as people. What I mean as, we Americans are overweight and oblivious as a people. We think we can bloat up on high-calorie, high-sodium government goodies — and still remain a muscular superpower. We think we can spend jillions filling our brains with mush like PhDs in “Things Nobody Can Monetize” and somehow remain a economic colossus.
What we need, is a lean, mean government. What we need are kids who are willing to study hard to become engineers.
What we’ve got instead is Barack Obama and the 99% — which is like a Jason and the Argonauts from today’s Greece.
The Soviet Union, like every socialist state must do eventually, collapsed under the weight of its internal contradictions. On the way down, there was Gorbachev pestering his people to sober up and start putting out enough effort to keep the sagging, creeping structure from falling down. They wouldn’t. They couldn’t. And sure enough, just six years later, the whole thing did indeed collapse.
Did we learn anything from Russia’s tragic example? Of course not.
We punish work and we reward sloth. We hobble the wealth producers and we lavish on the parasites. We send our kids out into the real, cold world, armed with worthless university educations and six figures worth of debt. So here comes our own Gorbachev to tell us that we’re fat and we’re lazy and we just need to man up and heave up our shoulders into the crumbing structure of our once-great country.
Well, Mr. President — how did we get so fat and lazy? Where did we ever get the idea that everything would be provided for us? How did the notion ever creep into our pointy little skulls that maybe we shouldn’t take risks or try to earn fortunes? Where did out work ethic go?
This is the America — or at least close to it — that the Progressives wanted for a century now: Pampered, uncompetitive and unloved. We can live with unloved. We’re kinda used to that by now. But so long as we remain uncompetitive, the pampering can’t last. Meanwhile, the same President who calls us lazy, just punted on 20,000 high-paying jobs.
Think we’ll make it as long as six years? We’ve run up more than four trillion in new debt in just three years, and we’re on track for trillion dollar deficits, each and every year, for forever. As everyone knows — as everyone outside of Washington knows — that which cannot continue, must stop. We’re closing in on that point.
The Russians were lucky; their empire went out with a whimper. Let’s hope we don’t go out with a bang. Maybe it’s for the best that America has finally found its Gorbachev.