Monday, February 1, 2010

In which the mad emperor’s bow sounds a sour, populist note

You have probably seen this national debt graph somewhere:


After years of profligacy under Republican rule, President Obama and congressional Democrats have, shall we say, upped the ante in the debt department.

In response, a bunch of stupid idiots have participated in rallies called “Tea Parties” under the notion that we are “Taxed Enough Already.”  Here is a picture of some of them:

tea party

Now, politicians are falling all over themselves to promise “fiscal responsibility,” lest they be Scott Browned in mid-term elections.

While the politicians obviate about tax cuts and discretionary spending freezes, mayhap it is time for Wiggles, the fat pink elephant--who has been sitting quietly in the corner of the room since the Johnson administration--to have his say.  Were this mad fantasy to actually play out, I imagine Wiggles might address us in the following manner:

Dear Gentle Masters,

You must kill your darlings or they will kill you.  When first Wise Lyndon gave them to you as a present they were sweet and kind and small and full of promise.  The little darlings nestled up against you and made you feel as if you were a kinder sort for you, in your benevolence, nursed them at no great cost.  But darlings grow up.  And these particular darlings have turned into something more like lions and tigers and bears than housecats.  Please kill them now, or they will turn on you, and claw us all—even poor, poor Wiggles—to ribbons.

Yes, massive unfunded entitlement programs (Social Security and Medicare especially) need to end.  By 2030 the ratio of payer to payee will be 3.4 to 1.  Literally every four US taxpayers will be responsible for the health care of one aging citizen.  That is the definition of unsustainable.  In California, unfunded pensions for state union workers are totally out of control with no viable plan in sight.

But we can’t just end these programs.  We can’t tell an entire generation of seniors to piss off and die.  We can’t just take the poor, retired fireman’s pension away.

There are, it seems, two options.

(1) Massively and permanently increase taxes.  Europe has a more or less working model for this.  By instituting a very steep graduated tax law, the rich can fund the life and death of the rest of us.  This would really be the dreaded socialism Americans seem to enjoy complaining loudly about.

(2) Gen Y deliberately self-immolates, paying for the entitlements of our forbears, but stopping the buck now.  We pay for the death of the baby boomers and the Xs, but also do the hard work of providing for our own eventual passing, permanently lowering the entitlement burden for subsequent generations.

Option (1) is the way of permanent class war and the end of the American experiment.  For a short period in history, human beings really found out what free men could do.  In every arena of human life amazing leaps took place; children grew up believing that literally anything was possible, that they might cure the incurable or become president or just pack up and fly to the moon, because America was a place where you were set free to cultivate all that God gave you to the best of your ability. 

With option (1) that fades necessarily.  Few will be willing to try great things because the costs will be too high.  Life will be mediocre and bourgeois for all except a small, elite cadre, born into wealth and power and destined to practice the soft tyranny of noblesse oblige.  Human life will be reduced to meanness, in every sense of the word.

Option (2) is what the Greatest Generation might have done.  It is the noble choice, available only to men and women of superior virtue, who would rather choose their serfdom than suffer the indignity of having failed to lay a foundation for their children’s prosperity.  Yes, option (2) doesn’t seem fast, easy, or fun enough for a generation of spoiled children, so I guess we’ll have to settle for option (1).

Or maybe we could just fiddle the days away, and not do anything at all.

Ah.  Now that sounds more like the generation I know and love.

Still Fiddling

Thank you, Instapundit, for this.

Only a few of the captions are laugh-out-loud funny, but the alienating effect actually increases exponentially the longer you browse.

Under the liberal protection of fair use doctrine, I present Unhappy Hipsters’ coup de grace:


The dog’s ability to fully surrender aroused in him a feeling of discontent and resentment.

(Photo: John Clark; Dwell, April 2009)