Political thinkers, it seems to us, proceed from either of two places: They start with what they have, or with what they want. From either the reality that we inhabit, or from their desired goals. The two folk in a political debate who respectively demand that we help the deprived and then, the guy who stands up and asks how we will pay for it The last should expect to be denounced as heartless, the former as unrealistic. But you know which one will garner the votes, at least until tax filing season.
That in a nutshell is the story of the downfall of the West and its incredibly wealthy and unfettered society. The fable of the Pied Piper is its appropriate archetype. We are always ready to demand the service; we are seldom willing to pay for it.
In today’s presidential circus, we see Trump promising to restore past illusions singlehandedly without mentioning the cost, Clinton promising to supply what is needed responsibly without acknowledging any cost and Sanders promising the moon, free of charge. Trillions in existing debt? Never mind. No worries, since government prints the money, per Trump. Yeah …
Some millenia back, the Jewish Bible said: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Today’s economists disagree all over the place on many things but all of them agree that was truth and remains so. Scarcity is a foundation stone of economics. Scarcity means that there isn’t enough to go around. It is a physical fact of our universe. Espousing any particular political belief does not make it go away, which is the inherent fallacy of socialistic political theories. Ask a Venezuelan citizen who is experiencing a 500% annual inflation and watching his country dissolve into the result of its socialist paradise experiment.
Note too that it is not socialism that is the problem. Socialism is only a sales pitch. As Communism or National Socialism (Nazi) sales pitches were. None of those matter. The bottom line was presented by America’s Founders: A large, powerful government of any label whatsoever, vs a small, limited government. One that couldn’t do much for its citizens … or do much TO them, either.
A government that does little for citizens is an easy target for ambitious politicians willing to promise more goodies in return for votes, so here we are today. It seems to have been inevitable, as Ben Franklin seems to have known when he answered a woman who asked what the Constittutional Convention had produced:”A republic,” he said. “If you can keep it.”
One mus t stretch today to claim that we have kept what the Founders envisioned. Actually, it seems more to be keeping us. And to be demolishing our economy, banking system and currency as the price of that. Just as have all of the governments that have preceeded us down this path. And as inevitably will those that follow it in the future.
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, as the French put it. Or rather for us: The more we change, the more we remain the same.