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February 02, 2011

The "As Long As I Get Mine" Conundrum

Everybody's in favor of cutting costs...until the cuts involve them. This is particularly true of social-welfare programs like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and so on. The main problem is that people stop thinking of these things as welfare (charity), and begin thinking of them as wages. Taking "wages" away amounts to theft in most peoples' eyes; hence the outrage when a discussion of benefits cuts is raised.

I've often said that this sort of thing crosses ideological and political lines. It's all well and good to think philosophically about the situation when your neighbor loses his job; it becomes a more practical and alarming matter when you are threatened with the loss of your own job. It tends to put your ideals and beliefs into rather brutal conflict with the pragmatic reality where bills must continue to be paid, and the family still needs to eat and maintain shelter. It takes real bravery and strength of will (and not a little ruthlessness, I think) to say "no" even when the wolves are at the door. Not many have this kind of strength. (I'm not sure I do, frankly.)

I am depressed at how many people put themselves into this kind of modern vassalage to the various governmental agencies, but it amounts to crying over spilt milk at this point. For better or worse, we now live in a "as long as I get mine" nation where no one will sacrifice their own welfare-check in service to a higher ideal. The whole situation will have to come to complete collapse and ruination before the scales fall from our eyes and we see the seductive lie of governmental welfare for what it was all along.

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posted by Monty at 10:11 AM

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