Philosophical musings of Chic Hollis
The paradigm shift in the first ten years of the new century is of major interest to those of us who have lived many years in the 20th Century and witnessed the failure of national socialism, communism, and democracy in other countries. Why hang around to endure the gradual demise of our polarized nation whose citizens are promoting expensive and questionable solutions to problems our leaders have created? It does not appear that our leaders know how this unraveling social crisis can be avoided.
A new paradigm has been evolving slowly in the United States that provides American citizens a false hope of extending the survival of this prosperous country. Unfortunately, the initial effects of that change are unlikely to diminish the negative influences of individual human selfishness, greediness, and personal lust for power to control other human beings and influence other independent nations.
This unrealistic hope is predicated on a simple political philosophy which demands those potentially productive individuals of our society to accept any social or military mission set forth by our country’s leaders. Citizens are supposed to study conscientiously in school, work hard on the job, strive diligently to earn a decent wage, and live frugally so that they can sacrifice when called upon for those who are less studious, less industrious, less ambitious, and less provident. Out of their meager wages these hardy mates must pay government assessed taxes and mandatory insurance company premiums, and make generous voluntary donations to charities so that the recipients of the redistributed income can experience a better and healthier life.
This revised interpretation of “rugged individualism” seeks to redistribute the wealth of the nation from the creators of it to the proletariat who are exploited, underpaid, and unemployed. Noble desires don’t always yield the best end results because they ignore reality. Reluctantly accepting the democratic way of redistributing wealth via taxes, those who must cough up their earnings rarely vote to tax themselves, and the legislatures rarely vote to delay “entitlements” even when the government has insufficient tax revenue to cover entitlement expenses. The undesired consequences of such foolish political behavior are rapidly growing debt and acrimonious discussions over the lack of fiscal responsibility. Who is to blame? The political philosophers.
Who would work hard, be frugal, and delay gratification if he knew that someone else with absolute authority was going to reach into his pocket and remove a large portion of his income to give it to someone else – regardless if that “someone else” was worthy or unworthy, deserving or undeserving? The population of this world accelerates without a great deal of concern for the natural resources required to sustain such growth, without the technology to provide jobs for the teaming masses of poor undernourished children being sired, and without the physical, financial, and social infrastructure in place to handle so many unskilled laborers when they become adults.
The question of who is to take care of these new born babies is answered by an appeal to our humane instincts: those who are healthy, wealthy, and wise enough to hold a job, but powerless to influence the current members of the government to be more circumspect and honest. How long are the despised “rich” in this country to bear the financial burden of looking after their families and their neighbors’ families? Should anyone be allowed to spend money they don’t have and didn’t earn? The Law of the Jungle espoused by the omniscient Creator of this complex universe doesn’t function that way. Social contracts may try to ignore that Law, but such contracts have not stood the test of time.
The distinct roles of “giver” and “taker” do not make psychological sense in view of our human instincts that do not take kindly to robbery, theft, and deceit on the part of others. Whether or not those criminal motives are legally tolerated and enforced by governments, they are rejected in a virtuous society. The devious mind and slick rhetoric of the political leaders doesn’t assuage the outrage of the average human being who is being asked to share his precious toys and limit his personal joys. The stiff resistance is obvious in the response of voters: “NO NEW TAXES!”
Enforcing payment of taxes and insurance premiums results in tax avoidance, creating tax loopholes for the favored by lobbies who draft legislation, and greed to get ahead of the curve that promises more hidden taxes and increased insurance premiums each year. Sadly, nothing can be done by the average yokel to evade taxes except petition his boss for the inflation compensation necessary to meet the demands of governments who can’t control the costs of entitlements. If the boss responds, prices increase and inflation results unless the worker’s productivity is increased somehow to offset the increase in wages. (Not the most likely consequence.)
So, what else can a government do who has taken on the heavy responsibility of Divine provider? Not all that much because the role of providing for the family has passed out of the hands of the parents into the hands of the community under the new paradigm. Prosperity is a bane today unless you are a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffett whose excess wealth make them heroes in the media for giving to charities instead of our deficit-ridden governments. Today, who are the most deserving, the people supported by our donations to the various charities or the citizens supported by our too-numerous-to-list bundle of taxes?
And don’t mention the Social Security recipients like me who are benefitted by the biggest Ponzi scheme every invented. (Take from the young and healthy promising them a big “return on their investment” and give it to the Baby Boomers whose contributions were given to the members of the Silent Generation.) What did the Federal Government do with the Social Security taxes they impounded? They loaned that money to themselves to be used for imperialistic wars on foreign soil. How will those loans be paid back when the federal debt has been increasing by hundreds of billions of devalued dollars per year? Don’t ask!
Reality is not pretty, no matter what you read in the papers, see on the Internet, and hear on TV. The paradigm has shifted and the average taxpayer who earns a living works for the government nearly four months out of the year. When a hard-working stiff doesn’t have enough money to pay the rent, buy food, and acquire the necessities that the government doesn’t automatically provide the employed, what is the government’s recommendation? “Get a second or a better job, pay your taxes, and everything will turn out OK.” Meanwhile, the safety net sags and tears at the seams.