Health Care, the Euro Crisis, and Entitlement Slavery
by RALPH PETERS
June 29, 2012
In an age of the globalization of everything from bird flu to bad debts, we still try to compartmentalize, pretending that what happens in Athens, stays in Athens. Thus, too many Americans fail to connect the massive attempt at wealth transfer (and wealth destruction) behind Obamacare to the wild irresponsibility of southern Europe's socialist government models that have led multiple states to practical, if not yet formal, bankruptcy.
But problems ranging from the Democratic Party's efforts to turn illegal immigrants into still more electoral slaves, to Greek or Spanish demands that hardworking Germans pick up their lifestyle tabs, all have the same roots: The Left's lust for power and its preferred means of seizing power today: Addicting the least-productive and utterly unproductive members of society to giveaway programs funded by the diminishing number of citizens willing to study, work and pay taxes.
Obamacare isn't about alleviating suffering. It's about keeping poor people poor by enmeshing them in a web of addictive hand-outs that keep them dependent on government. Every leftwing "social" program has the ultimate goal of destroying incentives for self-improvement, while piling on the incentives for parasitical behavior.
Whenever a leftist politician speaks of "social justice" or "justice" of any kind, get ready to write a check to the government, if you earn an honest living. To Leftists, social justice means only two things: First, empowering the Lumpenproletariat (society's bottom-feeders, against whom Karl Marx warned us, by the way) to create an electoral mob that will always vote to preserve and increase hand-outs; and, second, punishing responsible citizens who have done something constructive with their lives. (It's fascinating how Leftists take only the "good parts" from Marx, without paying the least attention to his often-hardnosed analysis: Marx did not believe that those who decline to contribute to society deserve anything but disdain. His only exception was for fellow intellectuals.)
And as an aside: As legal experts sort out the Supreme Court's complex decision on the "Affordable Care Act" ("Affordable for whom?" one asks), conservatives should avoid attacking Chief Justice John Roberts, who just did responsible citizens a great favor: He placed sharp limits on Congressional power to restrict individual economic freedom through subterfuges and, he said, in a strict Constitutionalist approach, that, while Congress has the power to tax American citizens, it can't hide behind fake rhetoric: If Congress imposes a tax, it has to call it a tax.
This is not good news for the Obama administration and Democrats: The President and his allies on Capitol Hill have just been exposed as inflicting a massive, business-killing, unaffordable tax increase of European proportions on working Americans. Try campaigning on that.
In Europe itself, we see a sharp north-south divide (with France, under its new idiot-left president, opting to align itself with the bankrupt south, the financial equivalent of Napoleon's invasion of Russia). In the north, most governments pursue sound fiscal policies and restrain their socialist impulses within the limits of affordability. In the German case, two traditions have resulted in one of the world's soundest economies, despite soft-core socialism: The old, unfashionable, academically derided "Protestant Work Ethic," and the worthy old Prussian admonition to live a life of Mehr sein als schein ("Live within your budget and don't flash bling").
You can even see the philosophical differences between Europe's north and south in the fashion industry, where the gaudy extravagance of Italy's Gucci flash-trash screams "Look at me!" while the classic lines and subdued palate of Jil Sander designs from Germany suggest quiet self-confidence, the sense that "I know who I am, whether you do or not." Or compare an adopt-a-mechanic mega-bling Ferrari with a well-engineered BMW. In the same vein, German workers enjoy good benefits, but earn them, while southern Europeans revel in generous benefits to be paid for by a future fairy godmother (which Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, bless her, refuses to become).
In Europe and here, the Left has proven that the old saying "There's no free lunch!" is a lie, at least for a while. There's a free lunch every day, as long as someone else can be conned or forced into picking up the tab. Eventually, though, the famine years arrive.
Here at home, it's often been observed that a fundamental problem is that "we've made poverty too comfortable," thus removing incentives for people to study, work and better their lives. That's absolutely true: When you willfully contribute nothing to society throughout your lifetime, while using food stamps to buy chips, candy, soda and frozen dinners, and then bill the government for your self-inflicted health problems while couch-surfing through a "life of poverty" that includes a cell phone and a flat-screen television, well, there are, unfortunately, plenty of human beings content to be narcotized into slavery on the left's vast, soul-destroying electoral plantations. The left uses government giveaways to bribe the poor to stay poor.
Why? The left craves power. Once upon a time, it craved power for imagined noble ends. Now it's just about the power itself. Leftists know full well how soul-crushing conditions are in the ghettos, barrios and poor-white communities in which they confine their supporters, keeping them on a life-support drip-feed of benefits (brilliantly constructed so that anyone who tries to fight their way out of the poverty trap immediately loses multiple advantages reserved for those content to remain willing slaves).
What has our Left done for the poor except to addict them to poverty? What has the European left done for the poor except to promise a fairy-tale ending, only to leave the "workers and peasants" to face the Big Bad Wolves of mass unemployment, endless debt and lifelong disappointment?
There is no dignity in living on hand-outs. But that's just fine with the Left: The destruction of individual dignity, the reduction of pride from a matter of real achievement to status based on running shoes, is one of the left's most vital tools in subverting our republic ("How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the block, once that they've read Ayn Rand?" The ultimate nightmare of the American left is a literate minority population). Note that, on the rare occasion when a minority celebrity calls for personal responsibility and educational reform, the left attacks him or her immediately, savagely and enduringly.
For that matter, what has our self-declared-as-black president done to improve education for minorities and reduce minority unemployment? How many black or Latino executives, exactly, worked at Solyndra?
For me, the Obamacare agenda was never really about the health of the American people. Instead, it's another wealth-transfer (and wealth-destruction) tool that removes yet another incentive for individual citizens to better their lives. It's also about further dismantling our sense of personal responsibility, broadening the sense of victimhood yet again. The "free lunch" of universal health care would be paid for by those who work in order to provide endless care, premium for those who refuse to work or to take any responsibility for their own physical condition.
The message of the Left long has been: Nothing is your fault, you're all victims of the dark forces of free enterprise ("Freedom is slavery," as Big Brother put it). Obamacare was designed to extend that message to: "Eat like a pig, smoke like a chimney, drink life a fish and stay put on your sofa-and, as long as you vote the Left's party line, you'll get the same benefits as someone who has worked steadily for fifty years to support a family.
The worst addiction crisis in our country isn't to illegal drugs, but to life-numbing government giveaway programs that purposely kill ambition among the poor.
Oh, and the Left's recent discovery of the suffering middle class (suffering because of the Left's bankrupting programs)? Don't believe it. The academic left has always despised the petty bourgeois, while merely envying the wealthy. The middle-class shopkeeper or small-town entrepreneur was always immune to the Left's inanity, while at least some of the rich could be conned into a guilt-trip and big donations.
As for those of us with jobs, the Left wants us to be in debt, in doubt, and hurting. The new dream of the American Left is to turn productive citizens into a new class of victims. And, true to the European model the American left emulates, our leftists close their eyes to the fact that somebody has to make money to pay taxes, or, eventually, there's no funding for anything. When it comes to balancing the books, the Left has always taken the Mr. Micawber view that "Something will turn up."
Welcome to Greece: It's always about wealth transfers, even as the last wealth disappears.
At a time when the American Left dreams of turning ten million illegal immigrants into ten million permanently impoverished voters, it's time to relook the entire leftist experiment we've endured for the last half-century. Food stamps? Sure, for the deserving or disabled. But no junk food or desserts of any kind. Computerized supermarket inventory and check-out programs could easily manage this-but it won't happen, because politicians from both parties would rather foster obesity than take on potato-chip manufacturers. And let's routinely recheck eligibility and make it a felony to sell food stamps to a third party. Benefits fraud? Lose all government benefits for the rest of your life. Voting rights? Time for a step backward (the Left's outrageous objections to voter ID laws show just how corrupt the Democrats have become). No individual or family tax return? No right to vote. No high-school diploma? No right to vote. Citizens don't just have rights. Responsibilities come first.
As for health care, I support enlightened rationing that, while allowing for "no-fault" serious diseases or accidents caused by others, incentivizes citizens to take at least some responsibility for their own health. If I bust my ass to stay in shape, I shouldn't have to pay for extravagant care for the shamelessly self-indulgent. Past a reasonable point, you should have to pay your own way if you've abused your body for decades. If you want endless platinum care for ailments you've inflicted on yourself, take out your checkbook.
Not a single cowardly politicians in either party will admit it, but without laws that foster personal responsibility for our health, our health-care system will bankrupt us, whether Obamacare can be repealed or not. And by the way: I am one hundred per cent in favor of special taxes on junk food, with the revenue dedicated to paying down the costs of our obesity epidemic. You want to eat that crap? Go ahead, you're free to do so. But, as the saying goes, "Freedom isn't free." Don't expect me to pay for your gastric-bypass surgery.
Frau Bundeskanzlerin Merkel, stick to your refusal to pay off the credit cards of spendthrift Greeks. My fellow Amerians, stand up for the fundamental value that, above all, made this country great, the belief that personal responsibility is the building block of freedom.
I would not undo "social" programs that help the genuinely needy, but I'd damned well make sure that "needy" meant physically or mentally helpless to help themselves, not lazy, cynical and content to remain illiterate.
There's a line from the 1960s that I used to trot out for a laugh. Faced with today's degenerate entitlement culture, I've come to see authentic wisdom in the saying. It's from the Reverend Ike, the Little Richard of evangelists, who, when asked about his Cadillacs and jewelry, said, "The best thing you can do for the poor is not to be one of them."
Work hard, pay your bills, and take responsibility for your own life. That, my friends, is true American patriotism.
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer (and former enlisted man), and the author of the new bestseller, Cain at Gettysburg.