By the time you read this, the negotiations relating to the “fiscal cliff” may or may not have been resolved, but the underlying cause — the reason this debate came to a head — has not changed.
It’s not a partisan issue, nor one of class. Americans of all politics, all classes, all races are far too self-indulgent, too ready to raid the treasury instead of serving as responsible stewards of the nation’s resources, and far too undisciplined to accept sacrifice or inconvenience. We’ve become a nation of people who want to experience the good life but are unwilling to work for it or pay for it.
There is an entitlement mind-set in the country, and it’s not just the “47 percent” Mitt Romney made famous; it’s all of us. Americans demand a high level of services — and tax cuts at the same time. Corporations claim they want free markets, but they lobby Congress incessantly for special tax breaks and subsidies. And Social Security, envisioned as a government savings program — the mother of all defined benefit retirement systems — has involved into a giant ponzi scheme. Bernie Madoff went to prison for taking people’s money, promising to deliver a return, and spending the invested money. The only difference between Madoff’s scheme and Social Security is that the government can print money to replace the “savings” it takes from paychecks to fund the budget because we’re unwilling to pay the full cost of operating the government.