The Harvest of Free Stuff
The problem that governments across the western world are facing these days is how to prune the dense thicket of free stuff that has grown up unchecked in the age of the welfare state.
Make no mistake. This is the common factor between the Trump election, the British Brexit, the gilets jaunes and the metastasizing pensions crisis in U.S. states from California to Illinois. Once upon a time, the king offered his peasants free stuff to general hosannas from all the usual suspects. Now the question is who gets to give up their free stuff last?
And now a federal judge has put the cat among the pigeons by declaring ObamaCare unconstitutional. Really, I don’t see that ObamaCare, with its promise of providing coverage for pre-existing conditions, of providing health insurance after you discover you need it, is any more unconstitutional than any other government program offering free stuff. But what do I know?
Of course, I love it that the French gilets jaunes are ripping up the streets, but what do you expect, Frenchies? If you are going to lard up la belle France with all kinds of regulations and guarantees for pensions and benefits and worker rights, then the government is going to find itself scrambling for revenue. And what better source for revenue than a tax on the eeevil carbon that all right-thinking people agree is the only way to stave off global climate disaster? You say you need your car for your job? Come on, Jacques: we all have to change so that we can save the planet.
Right now, I am in the western desert of Rajasthan, India, with camels all around. Fortunately, I am not sleeping in a tent, but I am deeply sensitive about the rule of the camel’s nose. Once you have successfully got your own special benefit from government, guaranteed in perpetuity -- or at least until the end of the dynasty -- by sincere politicians, don’t be surprised to find that the rest of the camel corps wants to stick their noses into the tent of eternal benefits as well.
There was a day when the bourgeoisie, of ancient memory, proposed a model of government that would afford the tax collector and the economic regulator only a limited grasp on the fruit of man’s labor, but that was long ago. It all seems so quaint now: gold-based money; deficits only to finance war; presumption of innocence; government forbidden to discriminate, citizens free to discriminate. Why, in a world like that, everyone, even the scions of noble houses, or their modern equivalent, the Kennedys, the Clintons, and the Pelosis, would have to get a job. The delicious life of activism would be denied to the well-born graduates of our selective colleges.
What would be the point of that? It would be a world without meaning to the modern young sprout raised up from pre-K thru grad school to a saving faith in politics.
But it would be a much better world for the rest of us if the self-appointed elite were not getting their jollies from leading ordinary people to ruin and bullying middle-class normals into voting for Donald Trump.
Look, everything our educated ruling class has forced on us sucks, from bankrupt entitlements to useless education. And it’s all about force. The three-legged stool of ObamaCare illustrates the problem. First, insurers were to be forced to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions; then consumers were to be forced to buy health insurance; then taxpayers and health-insurance consumers were to be forced to subsidize coverage to make it “affordable.” Hey, how about this three-legged stool? Graduates of selective colleges should be forced to work for two years as Walmart checkers, then used-car salesmen, then check-cashing clerks, before they can do a lick of “activism.”
But really, it’s all good. If a real-estate mogul and reality show star can twist the ruling class into pretzels, and the gilets jaunes can bring France to a dead stop in a couple of weeks, then there is something in the air. And the good thing is that our ruling class really does not have a clue what to do except sicc its deep-state thugs on anyone that dares to challenge its high-caste right to rule.
But lookee here people. If you sign up for the ruling class’s free stuff then you are signing up for them to jerk you around. That’s their thing: seducing the innocent and bullying the powerless.
Wouldn’t it be great to have an America where the average Joe and Jane liked nothing better than to tell the educated ruling class to go put it where the sun don’t shine?
It would, but the entry fee for that paradise is the courage to say No! to the drug-dealer and his tempting free samples.
Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.