USSA: Creeping socialism US style
Dependency, and its essential companion poverty, is the oxygen that the Left needs to survive and thrive. After all, if we were all independent-minded and prosperous, the Left would have no constituency. It should not be surprising therefore to see the Left being resistant, no matter the financial circumstances, to any attempt to roll back the nanny state.
Rolling back the nanny state and freeing resources for business enterprise produces that unfortunate confection of independence and prosperity. That is not the kind of environment within which the Left prospers. Left-wing politicians know that consciously or it is part of their innate survival instinct. They latch on like leeches to the dispossessed and disadvantaged. They spot struggling immigrants as likely targets. They assiduously use disadvantage to manipulate the consciences of the credulous advantaged. That past beacon of independence the United States is now a fully fledged battleground of the Left, and it is winning.
US federal government dept is approaching the current legislated ceiling of $14 trillion. This is around $45,000 for each of the 311 million US inhabitants; many of whom would not have two cents to rub together. The ceiling will have to be increased before the end of May this year to allow the US government to go on borrowing from China and anyone else with a continuing appetite for US dollar treasury bills. The US budget deficit was 10 percent of GDP in 2009; 9 percent in 2010 and will end up around these levels in fiscal 2011 (ending 30 September).
In these circumstances, having failed to present a budget late last year, President Obama and the Democrats initially proposed zero reductions in planned expenditure, as part of putting in place a budget for the balance of the 2011 year to avoid a government shutdown.
At the last, a government shutdown was averted with agreed cuts of $38.5 billion. This is around only 2 percent of the budget deficit. It was bitterly fought by the Democrats. The Republicans came down from $100 billion to $61 billion and then to the eventual compromise. The real fight, they say, will be over the 2012 budget in which the Republicans will want cuts in entitlements. At the latest count, entitlements – health, pensions and welfare – make up around 57 percent of government spending. Once defense is also accounted for only 18 percent is left. Either entitlements are cut substantially or the problem will not be resolved.
Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Republican Paul Ryan, has proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid down the track (significantly and ominously not to pension entitlements) but you can almost envision now the upcoming Democrat ads and the resultant backsliding of many Republicans.
Along with most other Western societies (Australia too but the resources boom disguises it), the United States is now in the second and terminal stage of creeping socialism. In the first stage, some people in a society increasingly recognize that they can spend more than they earn by acquiring and spending other people’s money. In the current, second phase, a view is promoted and acted upon which says that a society collectively can spend more, and progressively much more, than it collectively earns.
Once this view takes hold it becomes almost impossible to turn it back short of insurrection among the advantaged, and they’re not much good at that. On the other hand, modest reforms, modest cuts in entitlements, bring out passionate opposition among those who will be affected and those with an interest on the Left in fomenting dissent.
Unfortunately a mindset has been established by the Left which creates a sense of entitlement which defies logic and commonsense. Take this, apparently measured, comment on Paul Ryan’s proposed reforms to Medicaid, which I just pulled off the net as an example. There are many more extreme examples to choose from.
Although my family has private health insurance, we rely on Medicaid as a secondary insurance for our children. Despite the fact that we have a decent insurance plan, the family deductible and out-of-pocket is more than we can afford. Medicaid helps cover our deductible and out-of-pocket expenses.
This and similar comments are childlike in displaying no understanding that maybe if something can’t be personally afforded, it can’t be afforded at all. No, the mindset is to think that someone else can pay for it, but in a vague sort of way which is insulating from reality. The people writing and thinking this way are products of a cultural revolution more successfully, and more subtlety, engineered than even Mao could have thought achievable through incarceration in his re-education camps. The game is very close to being lost. Where communism failed creeping socialism is succeeding in undermining the individualism and exceptionalism which marked the development of Western societies.