Adult Children of America

by TOM MCLAUGHLIN July 28, 2011

When my parents were born, Americans took care of themselves. They didn’t depend on government to feed them, clothe them, house them, or pay their doctor bills. If they fell on hard times, they got temporary help from family, friends, church, or private charity - none of whom were obligated to help, but who did so out of human compassion. Now, millions of Americans - perhaps even a voting majority - cannot imagine life without government paying for all their basic needs from birth to death. Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the other day: “We write 80 million checks a month. There are millions and millions of Americans that depend on those checks coming on time.”

When Americans got help from family, friends, church, or private charity, they tended to be grateful. They were motivated to give back after getting past their hard times. Both giver and receiver got something out of the dynamic. Extended families became closer. Bonds were strengthened. Communities were fortified. Americans today, however, feel entitled to whatever assistance they get from government. They don’t even know who contributed the revenue they receive and don’t care either. They may not even know who their next-door neighbors are. All they know is, a check comes in the mail. This kind of big-government “assistance” doesn’t strengthen us as a nation. It weakens us at every level.

What happened? How did we become a nation of dependents in only three generations? It began with FDR’s New Deal, expanded with LBJ’s Great Society, and now is disintegrating under BHO’s (Barack Hussein Obama’s) Devastating Debacle. These were Democrat Administrations constantly expanding the scope of government and its cost. They’ve changed us from a nation of independent citizens into a nation of dependent children afraid of life without the indulgent-parent government taking care of us cradle to grave - adult children of the nanny state.

Between the above administrations, Republicans have either made half-hearted attempts at dismantling big-government entitlements, or actually expanded them as George W. Bush did with his prescription-drug benefit. Federal and state governments are going bankrupt because they cannot afford to pay for the promises they’ve made since the 1930s. The money simply isn’t there, and won’t be there in the future either.

Take Social Security for instance. Passed during FDR’s New Deal in 1935, it was designed as a trust fund people pay into all their working lives and then draw from it when they retire. Americans visualize it as a pile of money built up by millions of citizens. Al Gore counted on that illusion when he promised to put it all in a “lock box” while running for president eleven years ago, but there is no pile of money. Government has already spent it all - every last cent - around $2.6 trillion. Last week, President Obama inadvertently admitted as much when he warned that, unless Congress raised the debt ceiling beyond $14.3 trillion by August 2nd, he couldn’t send out Social Security checks August 3rd - “because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it." The only things Al Gore would have been able to put in his lock box were piles of IOU’s from the federal government.

Most of the federal budget is spent on social programs and interest on the debt, not on defense or infrastructure. The federal government has largely become a vehicle to suck money out the wallets of Americans who work so as to send checks to people who don’t. The former group is dwindling and the latter group is growing. At some level, we understand that this cannot go on forever. Yet, still, we borrow trillions from the rest of the world, and when they balk at lending us more, we simply print it.

“Progressives” in the White House and Congress insist that if the rich would pay more of what they earn, the gravy train could continue for everyone else. This kind of class warfare rhetoric is the progressive stock-in-trade. Yet even if “the rich” were taxed at 100%, there would still be mounting deficits passed on to our children and grandchildren to pay back. Nonetheless, President Obama stokes the fires of class envy by repeating the mantra of “corporate jet owners” at least six times in just one press conference June 30th. Granny and Grampy are starving because rich people fly jets. America’s adult children don’t want to take care of Granny and Grampy themselves anymore. They’d rather put aging parents in nursing homes and let government pay.

Left-wing progressives refuse to acknowledge the borrowing and spending must stop, that government cannot continue supporting a nation of dependent adult children.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), for example, blames Tea Party conservatives in the House for “manufacturing” the debt crisis because they’re calling attention to it - because they’re insisting that there be real cuts to unsustainable, pie-in-the-sky, entitlement programs. According to Lee and the millions of Americans who think as she does, the problem isn’t progressives like her who spend us into insolvency, the problem is with conservatives who make us face up to it. They don’t want anybody pointing out that we’re about to go off the cliff if we don’t reverse course

America was founded on the principle that “We’re endowed by our Creator with . . . rights . . . to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We’re not guaranteed happiness - only the pursuit of it. We’re not children and government isn’t our mommy or daddy. It’s time those among us who don’t understand that to grow up, and soon. Contributing Editor Tom McLaughlin is a history teacher and a regular weekly columnist for newspapers in Maine and New Hampshire. He writes about political and social issues, history, family, education and Radical Islam. E-mail him at

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