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January 10, 2012
The Last Chance
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) sent President Obama a letter last week in which he said, "More and more people have come to believe that America is becoming a deadbeat nation." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ran into a buzz saw last week when he said,
"The fact is if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple -- food stamps versus paychecks. Obama is the best food stamp president in American history. More people are on food stamps today because of Obama's policies than ever in history. I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history."
On his website, Mitt Romney said,
Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) understands the problem, too. He has proposed cutting federal spending by $5 trillion over the next five years. That's more than any of his competitors for the GOP nomination.
Rubio, Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum are on the same page where fiscal responsibility is concerned, and all three of them are correct. President Obama has done more than any president in modern history to enshrine living on the dole as an integral part of the American Dream, and Romney was correct when he warned that our debt would grow to the size of our national economy "this year." It happened in August 2011.
In my book If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot, I put it a little differently. I refer to the U.S. as a freeloader nation:
Obviously, Rubio, Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum agree with me, but I'll go one step further: we may have passed the point of no return. Today, people like to use the phrase "the tipping point." It's a term that was introduced by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point. According to Gladwell,
Gladwell uses metaphors from the medical profession because they describe what's taking place perfectly. He uses the word "contagion," for instance, to describe an idea at the embryonic stage. That's when a few people are infected, but they don't pose a major threat to the larger population. However, some contagions do spread beyond confined borders and become "epidemics" that have the potential to kill thousands or even millions of people.
Ideas spread the same way. They originate in small communities (the contagion stage), and if they have legs, they take off and "infect" the larger population (the epidemic stage). For instance, that's what Facebook did. The company started out in a college dorm room as an idea in the mind of one man, Mark Zuckerberg, and it spread to the entire world in less than 10 years. It's been reported that the "Arab Spring" that engulfed the Middle East in 2011 was driven along by ordinary people who communicated with each other via Facebook.
Our political leaders have infected this nation and some would argue the rest of the world as well with a deadly virus that has the potential to alter the course of human events, and not for the better. Food stamps, welfare, and seemingly permanent unemployment support are only part of the problem. Our government has lavished entire segments of our society with largess that makes absolutely no sense from a fiscal or moral perspective. Ethanol is an excellent case in point, but it is by no means the only example. In my book, I say,
If ethanol were a good substitute for gasoline, increasing ethanol production despite its effect on commodity prices might make sense, but it's not. Ethanol production reduces tax revenue from the sale of gasoline; it drives up the price of gasoline at the pump and contributes to inflation; it damages vehicles and increases repair costs; and it robs the world of a food staple. The only thing that ethanol has going for it is a president with a "green energy" fetish. If the decision to blend ethanol with gasoline had been made based on the merits of the case, there would be no ethanol blend fuel on the U.S. market today, and as I said, ethanol is just one example. There are many, many others.
Thankfully, Congress has started the process of ending "the era of big taxpayer support for biofuels," but the battle is far from over. In fact, it's just beginning. Every line item in the federal budget needs to be carefully scrutinized to identify wasteful spending, and Congress has to summon up the courage to make the necessary cuts. But that's not enough. We need a president who realizes that we can't continue on our current path because it leads to insolvency or worse. President Obama is definitely not that person.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.
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