November 15, 2008
Waltzing on the TitanicBy Larrey Anderson
America's young people helped elect Barack Obama. Way to go kids! This article is for you. Let's take a look at your future.
We won't need a time machine. We will just need to visit Europe and talk to the youth of France, Italy, and Greece. Don't worry. They won't mind. They have plenty of time to talk. They don't have jobs.
Young people in Western Europe tend to sit around, smoke Marlboro cigarettes, drink espresso (and Coca Cola), and (at least until this election) bitch about America.
They have been taught, since their first day in school, that capitalism is evil -- that the government can, and should, provide health care, employment, and eventually, guaranteed retirement benefits for everyone.
In their leisurely conversations when they have finished condemning capitalism, they go on to praise the idea of socialism. They do not praise their own countries. They are not stupid. The health care stinks. (Young people don't care much about that.) There are no jobs. (But there are unemployment benefits.) And the retirement systems are bankrupt. (But old age is way, way, way in the future.)
So, they argue, in the next election they are going to replace the loser socialists who currently run their countries with some real socialists -- politicians who will finally keep their promises. I heard this discussion in France thirty years ago. I heard it the last time I was in Italy. It is taking place in Greece right now.
The last time I was in Rome I listened as a very bright young man explained to his friends, over lunch at a sidewalk café, what was really going on: Most European countries have become, essentially, plutocracies. The socialist governments give lip service to wealth redistribution but they are tightly interwoven with the "old money" in the banking system and in big business.
This came as no surprise to his educated friends. Their response was (same as it always is): Of course the system is corrupt. We will throw out the old socialists and put in some new ones. It played in their minds like a broken record. I have heard it for years and years and years.
The only thing that stopped the conversation from becoming a perpetual loop was that one of the conversationalists eventually proclaimed, "Ah. But at least we are not America!" The Marlboros got lit up. The espresso and Coca Cola were sipped. And they got back to the serious business of bashing capitalism.
Well, not all of them. It turned out that the bright young man who had so eloquently described the current corruption was the bus boy at the café. He had a university education ... and a job!
I had the opportunity to speak with one of these young people alone. Actually, this fellow was not so young anymore. He was thirty-four. He still lived with his parents.
He could not afford his own place. His family was having problems even paying their electrical bills.
The reason the price of electricity was so high was that the "greens" had for years stopped the Italian government from building nuclear power plants.
He drove a taxi a few days a week (the only job he could find). He had a girlfriend but could not afford to marry her. He was not planning on having children. But in the next election, he assured me, a brand new socialism was coming. He started to rattle off the names of the experts he had read in the newspapers (and he had studied in the university) who had told him so.
I felt sorry for him. I had had this exact conversation many times before. He was brim full of hope and change.
Listen up young Americans: What is coming to the United States is what has been happening in Europe for decades. The ships of state have smashed into an iceberg called socialism and they are sinking.
This is not a Republican versus Democrat thing. Republicans had ten years to clean up the mess. They made it worse. I don't blame you for wanting to throw the bums out. I did too.
But putting in a new and improved and ever more aggressive socialist like Obama is not the answer. (Don't argue about his socialism. Go to his website and show me some free market proposals.) They have been trying this in Europe for three generations. It has not worked.
That trillion-dollar "bi-partisan" bailout passed by our Congress did not go to the people who cannot make their house payments. It is being handed out to the big bankers and to big business.
That is how socialism works. Politicians, bankers, and big businessmen do an age-old dance in triple time. There is no trickle down economics in socialism. Almost all of the money stays at the top.
America will soon be, like Europe has been, waltzing on the Titanic. Thanks for the dance.
Larrey Anderson is a writer, a philosopher, and submissions editor for American Thinker. His latest award-winning novel is The Order of the Beloved.