May 24th, 2010

The welfare state’s dirty little secret is out

And it’s simple: with low birth rates, the young end up working to support the old, and then the state is likely to run out of money before their time comes to benefit.

It’s starting to happen all over the Western world, as inevitably as taxes and death (yes, I reversed the order for a reason). And the young who voted for Obama—or his equivalents in Europe—are beginning to realize they’re the ones left holding the (empty) bag:

In Athens, Aris Iordanidis, 25, an economics graduate working in a bookstore, resents paying high taxes to finance Greece’s bloated state sector and its employees. “They sit there for years drinking coffee and chatting on the telephone and then retire at 50 with nice fat pensions,” he said. “As for us, the way things are going we’ll have to work until we’re 70.”

The math doesn’t lie:

According to the European Commission, by 2050 the percentage of Europeans older than 65 will nearly double. In the 1950s there were seven workers for every retiree in advanced economies. By 2050, the ratio in the European Union will drop to 1.3 to 1.

It’s everywhere in Europe, the weaker economies having piggy-banked on the stronger and created an even greater mess. And don’t think we’re immune, either; although so far we’ve been less of a welfare state than the nations of Western Europe, Obama and the Democrats are working overtime to remedy that oversight before America catches on to the unraveling of Europe and prevents its own.

But don’t blame the leaders alone. The sad fact is that such policies were only able to be implemented because people like them. In the short run they lead to popularity, re-election, and the good life—until the bills come due. And by then the populace has become accustomed to (and demanding of) a level of benefits, leisure, and protection from the vicissitudes of life that our forefathers would have considered an unrealizable dream.

If so, that’s because ultimately it is an unrealizable dream. Now that people are catching on, they’re hopping mad. Several generations raised with expectations of cradle to grave security find it hard to accept the idea that it was all a sort of Ponzi scheme, and that they’re on the payer side of the pyramid.

But where there is realization, there might be opportunity:

In Athens, Mr. Iordanidis, the graduate who makes 800 euros a month in a bookstore, said he saw one possible upside. “It could be a chance to overhaul the whole rancid system,” he said, “and create a state that actually works.”

It could be a chance—but to succeed, politicians will have to tell some harsh truths, and people will have to accept them. So far, except for a few pockets of beginning sanity (such as, strangely enough, New Jersey) there’s been a lot of resistance and denial.

In France, for example [emphasis mine]:

President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to pass major pension reform this year. There have been two contentious overhauls, in 2003 and 2008; the government, afraid to lower pensions, wants to increase taxes on high salaries and increase the years of work.

But the unions are unhappy, and the Socialist Party opposes raising the retirement age. Polls show that while most French see a pension overhaul as necessary, up to 60 percent say working past 60 is not the answer.

It all reminds me a bit of St. Augustine’s plea to the deity: “make me chaste, but not yet.”

85 Responses to “The welfare state’s dirty little secret is out”

  1. T Says:

    As pressure mounts on the younger generation to “pick up the tab,” and as that need for tax revenue becomes greater and greater it will drive more and more profit into the untaxed underground economy reducing tax revenues geometrically.

    This is not just a dirty little secret, it is a death spiral.

  2. Tatyana Says:

    “As for us, the way things are going we’ll have to work until we’re 70.”

    …except nobody will hire you after 50…

  3. SteveH Says:

    T, you are so right. Look for governments to do away with untraceable cash transactions to remedy this situation.

  4. Tatyana Says:

    SteveH:and that’s how we’ll gradually come to a familiar Soviet set-up of doctors collecting vast quantities of crystal vases, expensive alcohol and sometimes fur coats – as “private barter” will replace the largely inadequate legal transactions….

  5. T Says:


    Soon there will only be trceable cash transactions.

    Several years ago when the Treasurey imbedded the magnetic strip in bills opponents feared that this was to make any bill traceable. Nonsense, the govt replied, it was to make the bills less able to be counterfeited.

    Not so much nonsense today. We have the technology and the computer power to do exactly that–to trace any single pieve of issued currency. Ever hear of the website “Where’s George”?

  6. Sergey Says:

    This is hardly a secret. Many economists and pundits for decades were warning about incompatibility of inflated welfare and low birth rate, but nobody wanted to believe them. This crisis will open many eyes, and not only on this fiscal problem, but on many other ideologically motivated insanities.

  7. Artfldgr Says:

    Want to go back to where i explained how feminism is eugenics, and how open borders was to “hide the decline”?

    i distinctly remember lots of people being offended and teling me the population isnt changing.

    of course, we are also chaning demographically by intelligence, as the most intelligent women AND men no longer mate since women work, the smartest self extinct their family trees.

    the whole of it is that we are living beings whose purpose is not what we want or think it should be, that is vanity.

    bottom line… if you loko at the feminist leaders (all college bound women from the 1800s, and onward), you will find that they have exterminated the smartest family lines in favor of indescriminate rutting matting.. (which kind of makes the human selective woman into a, biatch of sorts)

    but as i said… if you cant take the facts, then dont yell at me about the end results.

    you can list huge end demographic and health problems thanks to their improvments (which add up to making a slave populaion through breeding inducements)…

    that perimenopause starts int eh 20s, not 30s

    that quality of children genetically goes down when

    you put off mating from our prime age of evolutionary development

    that the pressures increase the number of the dumb and fecund over the infertile but smart.

    that earlier onset of menses is a programed response to father absence, and results in earlier sexual precocious behavior and less learning and development

    that we no longer select mates carefully. anyone can tell you that you lose genetic direction and gain homogeneity (we become mutts)

    women are now more sex objects than EVER in history, and hook up culture has made the female population a self supporting harem of sexual sports ladies who will do and compete for the privilege (compare that to before) and pay for it themselves.
    [pretty soon, it will be a case of women doing ivf using elites genetics rather than random pickups]

    remember welfare was really mostly for women… not men… and early feminist pushed welfare requred men leave the family, which is why african families are so bad… our policies did it.

    but hey! no one wants to discuss history, demographics, genetics, and all that in a honest way that ignores PC ranting and punishments delineating where you cant think.

    as i also said a long time ago.
    no problem for me, i have nothig in this race

    i am not stupid enough to live the way they say, and then regret listening to such harmful people. nor vain enouhg nor jealuos enouhg nor envious enough.

    i really dont care as the problem of liberal and commuinist world will fix itself. they either keep going and they keep regressing till they cant hold it together, and it moves forward again on its own. all of this a forgone conclusion since theirs is an ideology that does NOT push births, and they have negated that as an option puttng that in the other totalitarians camp (leaving us alone is not part of the idea)

    demographics and such prevent their ideas from working.

    make us slaves, we drop fecundity till someone more free and able takes us over.

    makes us obey, and we then cant exist as we all obey and die out till we are free again

    to make it simple. they applied darwin, psychology and games to get us to an end that they want.

    they did not think enough to realize that in such a world, there is no end. that is, the end is but an arbitrary temporary condition that passes as fast as its reached!!!

    they can move to have all this converge to make an end, then the second it converges then what? it breaks apart as the contrived forces of convergence cant hold it together, just guide it.

    so the outcomes of the events after thir convergence of false attainment, is the loss of everything and its scattering out of their hands as a reward for trying.

    if the convergence is the compression, the moment after atainment is the ignitino for its separation outward in all directions NOT the solution.

    they only succeed after 100 years of effort to have 5 mins of success, after that, everything starts moving apart again and their forces are not in place to contain it.

    this is different from natural plateaus and goals, where once you reach them you reside in them for a while…

    think of it this way…

    they are causing a dozen billiard balls to come together by some force on the top of a hill. the second they get them there, they all fall apart and go down the hill. you can get them to converge, but not reside.

    natural things happen in minima… minima require no energy to maintain them… they are where everythin sinks to when you stop forcing.

    so, when we reach a new higher minima we settle into the natura bowl on the hill or top. and so reside there for a long while. (our prime is an example of residing for a logn time at that age, and so that age having the most worked out for it)

    ultimately feminism was self destructive as it was intended to be.

    a temporary self living cultural bomb…
    who will do its damage until it no longer can exist, like a fission reaction through the population.

    when done, a whole lot of damage, and a whole lot of broken everything all around, and the body politic ripe for usurpation.

    call as they might, they removed their own mens ability to defend heir own culture, and society, and way of life

    say good by to all of this.
    and hello to oblivion…

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    in order for the population to be fixed, that is no growth no shrinkage (Sans war, desease, starvation etc), every woman that does not have kids has to have another woman who has 5.

    feminism would not think that the best future would be to set free half of the population and oppress the otehr half twice as much for the freedom of the first.

    but in truth… the second feminism pushed it all, by force, to mvoe us faster… it sealded the deal as it made having babies an oppressive act as being a mother.

    and so, with women not fertile enough. the end was a given.

    hey! want to know the punchline to the joke?

    the guys that planned this, and helped this out. they implemented a different fertility program.

    they implemented one child policies (russia wasnt that smart)..

    so now, when we are denuded of men, denuded of masculinity, and our young populaiton is not enough, allowing us to use women (a bad thing) in war… (meaning we will lose any conflict even if we win), and denuded of will and just common ability.

    they have 30 million extra men they dont know how to get rid of.

    and they are screaming at the gates of korea..

    so demographically, the best thing for them is to send the 30 million out to war. maybet ake taiwan, singapore, and south korea.

    what can we do? have every child bearing woman have as many kids as she can and tell them to wait 18 years till we catch up (like we did for them).

    demographically the tactical response that first comes to mind, will hurt us more since we have less young people, so nukes wont work.

    they know this, they think this, just READ..

  9. Perfected democrat Says:

    It’s our future now, at the end of the day it’s just simple math. The first stage will be higher Medicare co-pays and premiums, reduced bene’s built into so-called HCR; in combination with inflation, reduced S.S. bene’s, and paying for the expanded government bureaucracy to pay for all of this… Higher taxes won’t even help, because the business pie will be smothered, and smaller. The Democrats are incompetents, except for Obama, who is no doubt a fully cognizant moslem-communist operative who I have no doubt laughs about his own success story every night after “work”. What a bunch of suckers…

  10. Perfected democrat Says:

    “St. Augustine’s plea ”

    It’s classic addictive personality behaviour…

  11. Perfected democrat Says:

    “and paying for the expanded government bureaucracy to pay for all of this…”

    Should have read: and paying for the expanded government bureucracy to “monitor, manage, and enforce” all of this…

    What a bunch of suckers!

  12. SteveH Says:

    T, I’m with you on the metal strips in money. I have little doubt that a simple detection system exist at airport checkpoints right now that knows how much money is on you and in any of your luggage.

  13. Mark L Says:

    I am Greek-American. My grandparents all came to the US from Greece. I turn 55 this year. My biggest fear is not that I will not be able to retire until I am 70 — it is that I will be foced to take retirement (get laid-off) at 55 and *not* be able to work until I turn 70. And to be honest, if I am in good health, I see no reason to *not* continue working past that age.

    Every night before I go to bed, in my prayers I thank God that my grandparents came to America and did not stay in Greece.

  14. Mr. Frank Says:

    Demography is destiny. Pyramid schemes only work when the base is wider than the top. For a modern nation to avoid decline the average woman must have about 2.1 children. For the European Union, the current fertility level is 1.5. For Greece it is 1.37. Italy is 1.32, and Spain is 1.32. Marc Steyn covered this problem in America Alone as it related to the Muslim takeover of Europe over time, but the economic ramifications are here now.

    U.S. fertility is about 2.06 which is not quite replacement level. White, non-Hispanic fertility has not been at replacement levels for decades. The higher fertility of minorities and the high levels of illegal immigration from Mexico and Latin America have allowed our population to grow in absolute terms. However, given that black and Hispanic children tend not to do well in school and do not go into science, math and engineering, we will have problems in maintaining our affluence. Short term we have taken large numbers of educated adults from Asia and Europe to fill the gap.

  15. Curtis Says:

    Unfortunately, for change we must change people. And Greece has much to teach us because it doesn’t look like those people are sane. Choosing to riot and kill rather than face the consequences of being wrong . . . such is the damage that socialism does to the mind and soul. And it can’t happen here? It has happened here. To blacks, liberals, and large chunks of many other groups. Who hasn’t it happened to?

  16. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

    Global Warming: If you sacrifice your income now, there will be a big payoff in the future.
    Government: If you pay increased taxes now, there will be a big payoff in the future.
    Greece: If you support our spending now, there will be a big payoff in the future
    Ponzi: If you invest with me now, there will be a big payoff in the future.

    – –
    Robber: Hand over your money.
    Citizen: I’d rather not.
    Robber: You drive a hard bargain. Here is an official certificate giving you the right to rob the next guy, for a lot more than you are giving me.
    Citizen: I don’t like the idea of robbery. It’s not me.
    Robber: Don’t be a fool. Everyone is doing it. Wise up and don’t be left out.
    Citizen: I do like being part of the group.
    Politician: [takes off mask, revealing true identity] I knew you had public spirit.
    Citizen: [hands over the money] I see. This is just being part of the community. I help people now, and the younger people are going to help me even more, later.
    Politician: [pockets money, smiles] Yeah. That’s the ticket.

  17. Tom Says:

    Mr. Frank: you left out the part about the 50 million aborted U.S. fetuses.
    The governing Dems have, I suspect, figured out that maintenance of the demographic pyramid will require a serious and persistent amputation of the top. How else to rationalize Obamacare’s $500 Billion attenuation of Medicare over the next decade, despite a concurrent 36% increase in Medicare “beneficiaries” due to aging of the Baby Boomers? And Ezekiel Emanuel’s so-called bioethics based on QALY (Quality-Adjusted Life Years)?
    Perhaps large (> 200MM) populations can only be “managed” by tyrants.

  18. ELC Says:

    Death Panels?
    Why would anybody think statists might decide that death panels will be necessary?

  19. Poole Says:

    In a way, a society that moves away from religion is in danger of extinction.

    Religions that endure teach the necessity of strong family, children, respect of elders, living harmoniously with other members of your religion.

    A man and wife commit to each other. They have children who must be raised, fed, clothed and educated. Forcing the parents to work for the present and future. Children who survive help their parents to work the fields. As the children mature and the parents age, the responsibilities move from one generation to the next and the parents become the helpers to the younger generation.

    The “government” did not provide health care or old age security. The church only promised a heavenly reward for the faithful, not an end to the toil of living.
    The only people who could be counted on to care for the elderly were family members.

    Modern western socialism promised earthly security and reward, no need to have children. Why sacrifice to day to raise children? Less children, less workers.

    The move to minimize religion destroys that compact of one generation being raised and then caring for the preceding generation. Less religion and with it, the morals instilled by religion.

  20. jon baker Says:

    Poole, you may have already seen this Thomas Sowell article, but if not, you might find it intersting :

  21. camojack Says:

    “The math doesn’t lie…”

    Why do you want to deal with reality?

    It’s so inconvenient, sometimes… 🙁

  22. expat Says:

    I grew up in a 3-generation household. During the war, my very young parents had taken over the mortgage payments on the family home when my grandfather couldn’t pay them. It was cramped, essentially my parents had 3 rooms for a family of 4. In the other half of the house live my very disabled grandmother who had suffered a stroke, her mentally retarded brother who stayed with us for several years, and my grandfather who was fit and active till he got cancer when I was 12. What I remember most fondly of these times was “helping” him in his basement workshop (he was a master cabinet maker who taught me about furniture styles and bandsaws) and sitting in a rocking chair in the dining room across from him and saying, “Tell us about when you were a little boy, Grandaddy.”

    We didn’t just take care of him; he took care of us by sharing his wisdom and experience. We may have had to scrimp and save, but I had a very rich childhood.

  23. Sergey Says:

    It woud be very short-sightedly to think about this crisis as only fiscal, or financial, or economical. Rather, it is systemic: political, social, moral, religious, demographical, cultural and ideological. It is beginning of the end of the world as we know it, and I sincerly hope that it will result in return to more sane moral and religious worldview of Victorian England or, still better, to the wisdom and glory of Late Middle Ages.

  24. kcom Says:

    The welfare state’s dirty little secret is out

    Unfortunately, Neo, De Nile is a very large river and it will be flowing for a long time yet. Every day it does is a missed opportunity.

  25. Tatyana Says:

    *expat – …and I’ll risk a suggestion you didn’t do it because some religion instructed you to. You and your parents did it because you were a family, you cared for each other, both – physically, in the most utilitarian mundane way, and emotionally – thinking of each other’s comfort and of pleasing each other. Not even necessarily out of love – but because you were family, and that’s what natural way within a family is.

  26. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    Look for governments to do away with untraceable cash transactions to remedy this situation.

    In which case, look for the young to stage an insurrection against their government overlords.

    They may even have to write a letter or something.

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

  27. JKB Says:

    A couple of hurdles to overcome. First, you can’t just cut off those who planned on the current system since they have no means of picking up the slack.

    Secondly, the employment system is set up for the old to leave the workforce. They are often forced out in their 50s or 60s in favor of cheaper, younger, and newer skilled employees. So the mythical working until your 70 only works if their are jobs for 65 year olds other than Walmart greeter. Only hope for solution is a robust free market economy that creates wealth and jobs but that is anathema to the “progressives”

    On the upside, welfare state wise, soon we’ll have government healthcare so the old, infirm and unproductive will see their mortality rates skyrocket.

  28. expat Says:

    Tatyana, Well, there certainly wasn’t one religion that told us what to do. In my extended family we have Catholics, Methodists, Brethren, Espicopalians, Presbyterians, non-church-going hell raisers and who knows what else. No one got into theological discussions, but there was a consensus about how one should act.

  29. will Says:

    Work till 70?, where, pray tell?

    As Tatyana said, good luck getting hired at 50+, the prospects grow dimmer by the day, week etc.

  30. Tatyana Says:

    consensus how one should act – informed by religious instruction or just by family tradition and ties?

    in my family we had no religious instruction, at all. mine was (and is) a family of principled atheists.
    and still we behaved as family – exactly as you described.

    I resent declaration of constant reliance on religion for morality. I know it not to be true (sometimes – opposite from the truth), both in empirical sense and in theory.

    moral system get instilled in us at an early stage, when our parents first, and extended family – second are out foremost authority and model in life. If someone wants to tie it to his/her religious upbringing – fine with me, but I know it to be a false connection.

  31. Sergey Says:

    Moral system without religious tradition can last for some time, probably, for two or three generations, becoming more and more diluted in the process and constantly loosing its robustness and legitimacy. Like a house without fundament, it is held only by historical inertia, and will inevitably unravel at the first major social turmoil.

  32. Curtis Says:

    Only a fool in denial equates “principled atheism” as a system which provides morality as equal or better to any system with belief in God.

    One nice sounding term, “principled atheism,” and the metaphysical limitations of atheism are overcome? Man, in his finiteness better than God!

    Where do the principles come from? How are they grounded in truth?

    Principled atheism. What a joke.

  33. Mr. Frank Says:

    One of the initial rationales for Social Security retirement benefits was to make it possible for older workers to leave the labor force to open up jobs for young people.

  34. SteveH Says:

    I think people shape the religion or societal moral code, not the other way around. Which is why govt creates more problems than it solves in attempting social engineering and ethics not derived from the folk.

    Whats needed is people to be held accountable and be responsible for what they do as individuals. Only then can the religion or moral code get shaped through high expectations and yes, even shame.

  35. Tatyana Says:


    are you getting a biscuit from your priest for provoking atheists on blogs?

    when “believers” try to complain about so called military atheism they should read your comment above.

    maybe you didn’t notice: I DID NOT asked for your opinion of my views, nor challenged your [hideous, barbaric and ridiculous] beliefs. I didn’t use the words “I think” or “in my view”.
    I simply STATED what I know to be true. You can go foaming in the mouth all you want – I will not engage in theological discussions.


  36. Curtis Says:

    And you . . . from the land of Tolstoi and Dostoevski.

    Tisk, tisk.

    Atheism overwhelms Russia and what. Principled goodness?

    Like I said, only a fool in denial.

  37. melvin polatnick Says:

    Choosing to live only for the present with little care for the future has forced people to support governments that borrow without fiscal responsibility. The future has been turned into an ugly creature whose face is twisted in agony. Hopefully a sedative will be discovered to relieve the coming pain.

  38. tommy Says:

    and I’ll risk a suggestion you didn’t do it because some religion instructed you to.

    tatyana – don’t act all hurt. You baited the people of faith with the way you started the conversation.

  39. Tatyana Says:


    -your spelling sux.
    -tIsk? what’s that? if you meant “tsk”, it’s wrong, too. should be “tz-tz-tz”, in my idiolect.
    -I’m flattered you hold me resposible for the whole country of Russia, for her achievements and failings, but afraid I’m not worthy of honor.
    a fool in denial. what a coincidence! that’s what I think of you! and more – that only a coward, insecure in his own ability to distinguish right from wrong, will rely on the crutch of religion.

    As to goodness: yes, I am good and moral. So much, in fact, that just a few days ago I’ve been called a puritan and a prude. And some other terms of high praise.

    You can’t possibly surprise me with anything, Curtis.

  40. Tatyana Says:

    tommy: I didn’t bait anyone.

    “people of faith” (ahahaha! sorry) should learn some humility.

    let alone – tolerance to worldview of others.

  41. Sergey Says:

    Returning to the topic, I can say that problems with EU finances began, if you try to trace their roots, with atheism. No faith – no babies; no babies – no workers to support welfare state. Greece and Portugal now have the lowest birth rates in Europe (and the world).
    Atheism is the root of all social evils, from fascism to Communism to destruction of families and public moral.

  42. T Says:

    Mr Frank (1:04 above)

    That may be one of the THEORETICAL reasons for Social Security, but in reality, most older workers left the work force by dying.

    The life expectance for an average male in the 1930’s was 58.1 years, the average female life expectancy was 61.6 years; when social security was passed in 1935, the age for collecting full retirement benefits was 65.

    As I have noted before on this blog, does the term Ponzi scheme ring a bell?

  43. Tatyana Says:

    Riiiight, Portugal problem is atheism! That’s the root of all their problems!

    Forgot another of your pitiful hooks, Curtis: you want to talk to me about Dostoevsky and Tolstoy? What do you know about them, exactly? About their mental health, homosexual experience, gambling problems? Relationship with official Christianity (especially in the latter case)? Their family histories? Their tortured relationships with sexual matters? The misery they caused their families – and to a lot of their readers?

    How many works by these authors you read, Curtis? Which ones? In what language? How many years you studied them?

    Do yourself a favor – if you intend to display condescension, choose the field wisely. Or you’ll risk to appear an utter fool. Really.

  44. The Viceroy Says:

    Entitlements = the ultimate ponzi scheme. The young have been suckered. And… has feminism and abortion factored into the equation over all these years? Or, was that the plan all along?

  45. Sergey Says:

    Portugal now occupies 190th (!) place among the world nations in fertility. Nominally, it is 97% Catholic. Given Catholic doctrine on reproduction, who can with a straight face call its population really religious?

  46. T Says:


    Yes, the young have been suckered. Remember Churchill’s quote (Winston, not Ward) that if a man is not liberal at age 25 he has no soul . . . . Well it just so happens that A 25 also coincides with economic ignorance, and economic ignorance goes hand in hand with liberal utopianism.

    It turns out the liberals have it absolutely back asswards; they see revenue from govt taxation as a bottomless pitcher (simply raise taxes again and again) while they see the private sector as a limited zero-sum pie (we must take from the wealthy and redistribute).

    In fact, one can only raise taxes so much before the taxees (that’s us) rebes; conversely, is anyone in the U.S. poorer because Bill Gates or Donald Trump or Warren Buffet is wealthy? In fact we are better off for the products that they provide.

    Obama notes that at some point “you’ve made enough money,” but he avoids the necessary corollary, at some point you’ve paid enough taxes! I find it interesting that no one in the press, not even the conservative blogs has picked up on this corollary yet.

  47. T Says:

    sorry, should be “taxees (that’s us) rebel”

  48. Sergey Says:

    Ultimate nemesis of liberalism is low birth rate of liberals. This tribe voluntarily sentenced itself to extinction, leaving world for the breeders to fill. And people in general deliver babies in direct proportion to seriousness of their commitment to religion. In long run, fundamentalists will outbreed everybody else. In short term, population depression will follow. And in the turmoil it will inevitably produce, a new Great Awakening will happen. This is not a prophecy or sermon: just demography, stupid!

  49. Konrad Says:

    There are at least 2 mistakes in the first 2 paragraphs alone:

    1) The ‘dirty little secret is out’ — when and where was it ever hidden?

    2) ‘It’s starting to happen all over Europe…” — Nonsense! It happens for the last 30 years.

    People in countries like Germany, in France (yes, even there), Great Britain etc. knew for 20-30 (!) years that the full-blown welfare state of the 70s is untenable in the 21st century.

    The huge social benefits of the 60s and 70s in Germany for example — nice pension, nice workshifts, at least 30 days paid vaccancy a year, full-covering health insurance — were introduced at end of the 60s by the rightwing Christian Democratic Union under chancellor Adenauer in a gamble to win the votes of the war-generation. And since the 70s most if not all benefits were continually reduced or cut.

    One should not forget that there was a reason why in post-war Europe the market economy was accompanied by a full social safety-net: Capitalism had to show a friendly face due to the virility of Communism. (This was true under Adenauer as it was true under Bismarck, whose legislature on social benefits in the 1880 were destined to push the Social Democrats back.) A restraint that became obsolete at the latest with the fall of the Berlin wall. The result was the ‘opening’ of markets, weakening and loss of collective wage agreements, semi-privatization of retirement, semi-privatization of health-care etc. People over here are losing wealth and benefits now for 30 years in a row.

    So, everybody knew why the generous social-nets were introduced in post-war Europe; everybody knew that they were sustainable only in boom-times (as Adenauer was warned by his aides in the Departments of Economy and Labour respectively) and unsustainable in times of economic crisis; and everybody knew that the young would have to pay in a disproportionate amount for the war- and the baby-boomer generations. The young know for at least 15 years now that there retirement cheque will be much smaller than those of the baby-boomers. That’s the reason why for the last 8 years everybody in encouraged or forced (depending on his job) to take private retirement insurance additional to the retirement provided by the state/society. That wouldn’t be the case if these issue were held in ‘secret’

    So, necons and neo-neocons should check there facts first before they paint a scary ‘It-a-secret-but-I-will-tell you-the-urgent-truth’-fairy tale in support of there own right-wing propaganda. Not everything is psychology (even if psychologists like to think that), sometimes a decent education and a little learning of some historical facts about the items one chooses to write would be appropriate.

  50. Tatyana Says:

    T, you said
    one can only raise taxes so much before the taxees (that’s us) rebel

    there is another way, much more plausible, if foreign experience teaches us anything:

    low-bracket taxpayers demand more and more government cheese, middle-bracket – engage in shadow economy (barter transactions, so as not to show taxable income), high-bracket taxpayers (the productive class: entrepreneurs, businessmen, bif corporations) either bribe the government (see Goldman Saks), cheat the IRS on unprecedented level or transfer their operations and funds overseas – or all 3.

    There will be no rebellion.

  51. Konrad Says:

    P.S. The young realize what they realize. But this has nothing to do with Obama, his administration, or the Democratic agenda. The author conflates two themes in her eagerness to paint liberals, progressives, lefts etc. as out of touch with reality, and conversely the conservatives, Republicans, tea-bagger etc. as down to earth, in alignment with life. Very sad.

  52. neo-neocon Says:

    Konrad: I guess you’ve never heard of sarcasm.

    Of course it wasn’t a secret—any more than 2+2=4 is a secret. The point is that more young people (and old) are becoming aware of what they should have been aware of all along. There’s no greater teacher than direct experience.

    And even now, some people are still in denial. It’s hard to give up the idea of a free lunch. And by the way—in this country, as in so many others, even the opposition (supposedly “conservative”) party was engaged in promising one to voters.

  53. Konrad Says:


    “More people becoming aware of…” Are you talking about USA or about Europe, for God’s sake? In Europe no-one from the young to the old has any illusions about the prospects of the current wellfare-system. So your assertion in this regard is plainly wrong! (Rowing back by calling it sarcasm is the usual Limbaugh-dance: After ‘Operation Chaos’ insisting he is just an entertainer, thereby refraining from responsibility.) That’s the reason why even conservative (!) employer (at least in Germany) are thinking about a new work-models, guaranteed basic income payments etc. Simply because it’s cheaper than everything else including managing unemployment!

    So the point is this: You try to convince your readers that the only remedy for welfare crash is a rightwing policy. To which apprehension one only comes through a painful confrontation with reality (your ‘experience’). Well, rightwing policies didn’t work in the USA, and it surpresses the fact that there are endeavours on the right and the left to find answers to this systemic crisis that are not already written in the Books of Republicans: free market, tax cuts, denial of insurance or benefits, breaking up of labour rights, work-safety-standards etc.

    It’s frightening to see how (neo-)neocons can be so delusional to think that 1) this has to be some kind of therapeutic program or procedure that leads from error to truth, and 2) that the truth is a rightwing policy that was enshrined (and already discredited) in Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’ of 1994.

    The problems are too complex to be solved by a therapeutic process of adjusting ones “perception” to yield the right (!) “experiences”. Converts are always the most ardent proselytizers.

  54. T Says:


    While low-bracket taxpayers demand more and more govt cheese, the govt finds itself in a death spiral (see your points 2 and 3) and becomes less and less able to supply the cheese. Then what happens? Think Greece.

    Also, rebellion doesn’t have to be armed conflict (I was speaking generically). Middle bracket taxpayers relying more and more on the black market and barter, and wealthy taxpayers moving their income generating and their domicile elsewhere all deny the govt its revenue just as surely as they would if they attacked the Treasury like the French stormed the Bastille.

    The more rebellious taxpayers become, the more they look for alternative methods of getting what they want, and denying the govt what it wants. The more acceptable denying the govt becomes, the more encouraged the taxpayer is to deny the govt even more.

  55. T Says:


    No one in Europe has any allusions about the current welfare system? So the Greek riots were altruistic and not self-serving?

    The Limbaugh-Dance? Ah! Methinks we’ve found a troll.

    Actually what you call “rightwing policies” worked very very well under presidents Regan, Clinton and Bush (43). In fact, the further from the left that Clinton moved, the more economically successful his policies became, contributing to an unprecedented period of U.S. growth from Reagan up to the very end of the Bush (43) administration.

    As for your denounciation of conservative policies, your solution to solving the debacle created by the welfare state is what? More Welfare?

    the last 2 paragraphs–sounds like a lot of projection to me; but Konrad, you go with your strong suit.

    Finally as you so succintly put it, “converts are always the most ardent proselytizers.”

    Hoist by your own petard.

  56. Sergey Says:

    In Europe problems already are too complex to be solved at all, by any means. Europe is heading to collapse, like USSR in the end of 1980, and no “perstroyka” can save it. Probably, it will turn to old, good fascism, in Mussolini style, with some amendmends.
    USA is another story. It is divided almost 50/50 between Left and Right, with still huge resources to use for robust recovery once ideological insanity is nixed. And this has increased probability to happen, if people look at European debacle as a warning: do not try this at home!

  57. Tatyana Says:

    T – all true.
    But the word “rebellion”, in my understanding, implies relatively short, if explosive and sometimes violent, resulting action.
    What I think will happen more likely than that will be slow smoldering dissatisfaction with government – in all layers (or, since we started in these terms, in all income tax brackets), for years and years – until US will no longer be a 1st World country de-facto, while preserving a pompous facade of “has-been”.

    It has happened before -look at the UK. Or France. Or even at USSR of the time of stagnation: it took 30 years of slow-burning to end up with change.

    I am becoming more pessimistic as days go by. I hate to say it, believe me. But the more I read, more pessimistic I become.

  58. T Says:


    “Do not try this at home!”


    I can see the bumper sticker now:

    The European Welfare State
    Do Not Try This At Home

  59. T Says:


    Do not judge the pond by the surface of the water. We are not Europe. We are descended from people who took risks. Perhaps they had little to lose, but the little they had was still precious to them.

    They came this country in many cases not even being able to speak the language, and we carry those genes with us. The people who wouldn’t take risks were left behind–in Europe, India, Thailand and the like.

    The rise of the Tea Party is the early manifestation of this spirit. Tea Partiers are not demonstrating for a larger welfare state. They are not, like the French, angry about a longer work week. They exist to protest the growth of govt and the outrageous spending of a profligate conregss. They want to work, and they want to keep more of what they make.

    They real question, is will the established Republican party understand this (because the democrats can not and will not) or will we see the rise of a third ineffectual party battling the Dem and Repub status quo.

    The announcement of a Republican plan today by Paul Ryan (projectng a trillion dollar reduction in govt spending) is an early sign of hope.

    The welfare state was created by politicians with a very short term oulook (spend now, worry about paying later); don’t fall into the same trap today.

  60. Tatyana Says:

    I’ll have to research Paul Ryan’s pronouncement; may be you’re right and my pessimism is too premature. I’ll be only happy if that’s true.

  61. neo-neocon Says:

    Konrad: clearly, you don’t read my blog.

  62. Curtis Says:

    Caution sign at Yellowstone National Park:

    Don’t feed the bears or Tatyana as they may exhibit behavior that is frightening to young children.

  63. Tatyana Says:

    That’s right, Curtis. Don’t tread on me!

  64. Curtis Says:

    Perfectly normal behavior for a kook: Ranting and raving then claiming victim status.

    Think of yourself more as “being made fun of” than being tread on.

    Or like a fish on a line . . .

    C’mon. This is fun. You come up with one.

  65. Tatyana Says:

    I don’t think those who invented the slogan were claiming a victim status, Curtis. You have no clue.

    Go home, time for prayers.

  66. Curtis Says:

    Thanks. You’re right.

  67. Artfldgr Says:

    The secret to a good ponzi scheme is to make its term last longer than your natural life, then your never found out and its someone elses problem.

  68. James Says:

    To T:

    I think this topic has been pretty much beaten to death, but I will point out one little thing for future debates you may find yourself in.

    In the early 20th century, death was bi-modal. A large portion of the deaths occurred prior to the 10th birthday. Life expectancy is the average of all deaths. So those who made it past 60 tended to live almost as long as a 60 year old people today.

    Most of the increase in life expectancy was caused by the end of childhood infectious deaths. So a reasonable portion of the population made it past 70 even if life expectancy was 60 years.


  69. Konrad Says:

    @ neo-neocon:

    In fact I do, but I have to confess that I confined myself primarily to your blog series about “A mind is a difficult thing to change”. I was interested how one can come to change so drastically political positions.

    But you are right: I didn’t read much of your other entries; today just the one we are talking about.

    My being upset truly got off the ground, when I read your answer to my first reply: No, it’s not a question of coming to be aware of “life’s lessons”. Not, it’s not about realizing that there are no ‘free llunches’. I think even NYT to which you linked gets the point wrong (from my perspective). It’s not a sudden phenomenon, it’s a development going on for many years. And it’s not only in the riots in the suburbs of Paris or Marseillle in the last years, the riots in Greece now and years earlier, the riots in Berlin for the last 20 years (1st of May-riots) etc. etc. I think you and/or NYT are painting a picture much to simple: It’s not as if everyone wanted a free lunch, didn’t care who’d be going to pay, and is now awakening in a kind of shock. It’s more like the situation in the USA of the last 2 years with it’s anger of Main Street against Wall Street, the recession, the bailouts. In a word (crude and oversimplifying): It’s about fairness.

    Having said this (and the points in my first reply that you didn’t really dispute) it may be clearer now why I think that you are not only factually wrong, but also wrong in the suggestions of the remedies. Of course you didn’t elaborate on this, but the opposite of welfare, namely cut-backs in social security, health-insurance, benefits etc. were all already tried. And there’s going to be more cuts. But it will not change the dire economic situation of states and populaces. Forcing people into low-paid jobs (I am talking here about wages between 1 – 4 € per hour) simply don’t generate the assets needed to jumpstart consumption. (Let’s put aside the question whether this is something desirable, from an ecological point of view at least.)

    The opposite of welfare, e.g. a republican style retreat of the state from welfare-related agendas and the simple belief in the benefits of a truly free-market (if only the restrictions where cancelled), doesn’t work either. Because there will be no-one left to pay for infrastructure, education, defense, etc.

    @ T:

    Thanks for the outspoken derision. Well, you may identify trolling as you please, but that is not the issue here. Especially it’s not an argument but an attempt to ridicule and to evade the points at issue. Be it.

    And I concede to you that my being upset crossed some rhetorical lines. (Sorry if you felt insulted.) But this in itself is not a justification to overlook the points I made.

    Well, then …

    1) The riots in Greece are endeavours to secure as much benefits as possible. It’s not altruistic, obviously not, and it’s a kind of class-warfare because the populace (justified or not) does not want to shoulder the weight of the crisis. The reasons for Greece’s malaise are manifold: An European-wide absurd pension scheme, a tremendous budget-deficit, loan-obligations, a concise financial speculation attack comparable to the one many years ago, when George Soros nearly broke the British Pound, etc. So the reasons are manifold, the problems complex, and not nearly half of them are home-made by the regular Greek citizens. So why should they pay for it? Especially when Tea-Baggers and right-wing Conservatives in the USA (those who allocate RINO-titles) demand the same? The ordinary Greek did not create the situation, so tell me: Why should he pay for it? Would you?

    2) What exactly offends you with the term “Limbaugh-dance”? It’s a common behaviour, a public two-step that especially Limbaugh is famous for: Playing arsonist and then crying “Fire!” In the ‘Operation Chaos’ e.g. he goaded Republican leaning voters to register for H. Clinton to prolong the primary-battle between her and Obama to better McCain’s chances. But shortly after he declared himself an entertainer, pure and simply, without any responsibility whatsoever. He didn’t do anything! And this is problematic: You cannot start an action and then refrain from any responsibility for it. In my reply to Neo-Neocon I sensed the same behaviour: First she gave the headline ‘The welfare state’s dirty secret’, substantiated it with several paragraphs on the perils of the modern European welfare state. But then, in her reply to my reply, she came up with a totally different line, namely psychology. Now it was all about awareness, life’s lessons to the childish yokels who have to learn the hard way that someone has to pay the bill. And now the headline was only sarcasm and intended to be it right from the beginning. What Neo-Neocon did was changing subject and argument of her blog. And that comes with no surprise: She didn’t even question one item in the list I gave her in my first reply, presumably because she couldn’t. So she had to make her blog-article talking about something different: Psychology of the savages. (That’s just irony, no offence intended). And this reframing, in my understanding, was dishonest.

    3) Reagan, Clinton, Bush (43). Do you remember how G.H.Bush termed Reagan’s economic program? Yes? It depends what you mean with “worked”. There are tons of books, articles, web-pages, blogs etc. on this subject, so the only thing I want to emphasize is this: The budget-deficits under all republican presidents grew steadily and tremendously. A part of the US-populace, corporations, and the financial markets grew rich through tax-cuts and de-regulation, others became affluent through borrowing. Both became unsustainable with the wars (the costs ow which were never declared in the budgets) and the burst of the bubbles. In the meantime the infrastructure degenerated and no investments of the public sector were taken. Leave it to the market — meaning: let it rot. (Remember the season with the power-cuts in the North-East due to hopelessly out-dated grids and distribution facilities?) The average salary per hour declined until today. The War on Drugs did cost billions and brought nothing. And so on…So, I think the onus to show that right-wing economics can actually deliver more than just short-term benefits for a few lies not with me but with those who defend this approach. But even then: prosperity is a question of definition and what we mean.

    4) My suggestions? First of all: You don’t pay me to think. So why should I deliver anything? Do you really want a free ride, a free lunch? From me? Boy! But seriously: I gave some hints in my second reply. There are ideas and programs even from conservative sides (at least in Europe): new models that try to introduce work-hour-accounts (amounts of work-hours are agreed upon between employer and employee, then distributed over the year according to the needs of both); a guaranteed basic income for everyone (that would free work-capacity by separating the concept of work from that of a work-place). Especially the latter sounds like ‘free ride’, but as far as the numbers go it would still be cheaper than having an apparatus managing the unemployed.

    But the main point is that yours and neo-neoocon’s opinion about the welfare-state is inaccurate in a twofold way:

    a) Nobody knows that bills have to be paid? – Not true. But the real question is who is going to pay for them. And that’s the struggle in Europe for the last 20 years or so.

    b) It’s only a feature of the welfare-state. – Not true either. In fact it’s an obvious problem of every community with any kind of organized economy. Someone has to pay the bills. And everyone tries to defer the payment (the rich more than the poor, in my experience a least), be it a welfare state or a deragulated free market economy that makes it’s shares by forcing the payment on other parties.

    5) Projection / Transgression: The lines in question were aimed at Neo-Neocons reply in which she nicely changed the subject of her blog: from an (incorrect) argument about welfare states to the (somewhat arrogant) detection of a psychological defect. It was her not mine assertions that identified a psychological weakness in the European savages, that life would have to thrust itself upon them to bring them the truth. A truth that in a second leap was identified with what Republicans, conservatives, tea-baggers and others all along knew to be right, an eternal truth absolved from the muddiness of argument, fact, complexity, a truth so pure, so simple that every plain man’s gut can sense it. With the exception of the free-riders. Poor children, they have to be taught, guided, they have to be shown the way to that shining City on the Hill. And let all other brethren be warned not to stray from the path, etc. etc. … No, complexity is never well approached with gut-thinking, simple truths, and small town romances. It’s work. Always.

    Hope you don’t mind some hyperbole in a long and exhausting reply.

    Best regards
    – K

  70. T Says:


    This is an interesting point, and one that I have not considered. I do wonder how accurate your citation of childhood death is; certainly it would be greater than today, but a “large portion?” I’m not saying that this isn’t so, I’m just wondering how large the portion might hav been in 1934.

    I will also need to look at numbers detailing the %age of the population that lived past A60. You certainly raise a valid point

  71. PlatoBunker Says:

    “An European-wide absurd pension scheme, a tremendous budget-deficit, loan-obligations, a concise financial speculation attack comparable to the one many years ago, when George Soros nearly broke the British Pound, etc. So the reasons are manifold, the problems complex, and not nearly half of them are home-made by the regular Greek citizens. So why should they pay for it? Especially when Tea-Baggers and right-wing Conservatives in the USA (those who allocate RINO-titles) demand the same? The ordinary Greek did not create the situation, so tell me: Why should he pay for it? Would you?

    Why shouldn’t he pay for it? Citizens – or subjects – get the government they deserve. Willfully stupid or just stupid or duped, why should anyone else pay? Someone else may pay to try to avoid other consequences but the folks who enjoyed the party ought to pay the tab. They didn’t have a choice, huh? Well fair though you may like the world to be, as people keep saying on these blogs, the governments are out of other people’s money. Party over. I think the major transgression of the American “Progressives” and liberals was making an argument that European arrangements were sustainable – no matter your belief that some Europeans thought otherwise.

    Konrad, you are a nasty piece of work by the way. These blog comments do tend to be an echo chamber, but if you have another point of view at least spare me the tea bagger epithet – asshole.


  72. Konrad Says:

    @ PlatoBunker

    And the point is what? And do you really believe only the conservatives (to put it mildly) have a prerogative for not so nicely sounding epithets? Many on the far right side cringe hearing stuff they have no problem of calling their foes on the other side. Remember “traitor”, “kill him”? They want respect and share what? “asshole”?

  73. jon baker Says:

    konrad said ” Forcing people into low-paid jobs (I am talking here about wages between 1 – 4 € per hour) simply don’t generate the assets needed to jumpstart consumption. (Let’s put aside the question whether this is something desirable, from an ecological point of view at least.) ”

    Pay particular attention to this part of his statement: “simply don’t generate the assets needed to jumpstart consumption.”——–there-that is the crux of the issue-the false idea that consumption, rather than production ,generates wealth. This explains how some on the left view welfare- as generating wealth, and how the US media speaks of increased consumer spending, in a time of extremely high levels of private debt- as if it is a good thing.

    Then there is this statement “(Let’s put aside the question whether this is something desirable, from an ecological point of view at least.) ”

    While he is speaking of “consumption”, read between the lines- The push for expensive “green energy” and carbon trading/ offset schemes by the Europeans, making them even less competetive with the emerging Asian countries and our own restraints here, by the left, in the USA to utilysing our own natural resources -while we send money to the middle east for oil.

  74. T Says:


    I see you playing the same kind of game that you accuse neo-neocon and conservative bloggers of playing.

    First you state that it’s not about wanting free lunch, then you follow up with claims that the Greek riots are to secure as many benefits as possible and end with “. . . so why should they pay for it?” Sounds like the free lunch syndrome to me (by the way, just for clarity, we all realize that the Greek riots do not represent the whole of the Greek population–oftentimes those with the largest megaphones are a small part of the populace.

    Second, you denigrate conservative policies as ineffective and use a RINO Republican congress as an example of why conservative policies do not work. You end your post (2:58 above) by suggesting a little education and familiarity with historical facts. I say, “physician, heal thyself.”

    If you understood anything about conservative fiscal policies, you would know that the spending policies of a U.S. RINO congress are not representative, especially spending on social programs invented by former Democratic congresses. This was a case of beltway Republicans thinking that it was now their turn to spend like Democrats. It was not the spending policies that led to the economic boom of Reagan through Bush (43) but the reduced taxation which encouraged new development, which in turn encouraged new production, which in turn generated new revenues, which in turn generated greater tax revenue for the govt.

    No one wants to work if what they produce will be taken from them in taxes, would you? Redistribution not only contributes no economic incentive, is discourages whatever economic incentive already exists in the very people most equipped to create it.

    As far as who’s going to pay the bills, it’s always the taxpayer; it doesn’t matter whether it’s the U.S., Greece, Germany or Estonia. It’s always the taxpayer. Taxpayers are constantly fooled into believing that it’s not them but the RICH taxpayer who’s going to foot the bill; they hear liberals talk about making the rich pay their “fair share”, they refer to poor victimized taxpayers, 50% of whom pay no income tax (in the U.S.), and they denigrate profits as though they’re some kind of plague of locusts. (n.B., notice that liberals avoid defining “wealthy.” They want you to think it’s someone who has/makes more than you. They want you to look up the tree and say “those above me are the wealthy ones, they have more than I,” and in the meantime, forget that someone below is looking up at you and saying the same thing.)

    Contrary to what you posit, taxpayers have been conned by the welfare state into believing that someone out there was indeed going to pick up their portion of the tab. That’s in great part because the welfare state encourages dependency and eschews personal responsibility and the less informed taxpayers actually believe this, like Peggy Johnson, who said that after Obama was elected she wouldn’t have to pay her mtg or put gas in her car.

    Do you work for nothing? You may draw a salary, but a salary is nothing more than your profit for your service or product rendered. Is your goal to get ahead, or have you reached Obama’s point in life where you’ve already made enough money? Should you be forced to step aside and make less so that someone below you in the tree can have his/her turn or do you want to step up in the tree to the level above you and provide better for yourself and your family?

    One further revealing point; your use of the denigrating term “tea baggers” is a clear window into your philosophy. You seem not interested in a discussion based upon facts as you insist above (projection), but your essay is an excuse for personal invective. You present YOUR opinion as fact, and your opponents facts as unsubstantiated opinions, and yet you claim to not be trolling?

    Finally, as for your concern about my feeling insulted, sorry to disappoint you, but you’ll have to work much harder if that is your goal.

    In good natured disagreement,


  75. T Says:

    Jon Baker (at 12:26 above)

    RE: the myth that consumption generates wealth—-TOUCHE!

    A telling observation.

  76. Sergey Says:

    The main reason of deficit in all welfare-state schemes is not excessive consumption itself, but inefficiency of state bureaucracy in allocating resources. This the same knowledge problem discovered by Hayek: central planners never have enough information for optimal allocation. This applies both to investment and to spending. The only way government can keep expenses within limits is rationing. But self-rationing of consumers is always much more efficient than any set of rules invented by bureaucrats. Consumer knows better when to spend and when to save, according his personal situation and priorities. This makes both consumption and saving much more efficient and, most important, allows everybody to live within his means. Government never can know enough to learn how to do it.

  77. Maggie's Farm Says:

    Weds. morning links…

    Sipp is writing again: Das Is Culch
    Brill: The Teachers’ Union’s last stand
    Douthat thinks conservatvies should compromise before they have to make political compromises
    Neo: The welfare state’s dirty little secret is out
    Coyote: Germany’s B…

  78. T Says:


    Following up on our earlier exchange, hre is a link you might want to read;

  79. Artfldgr Says:

    Sergey, its the difference between a bunch of computers being used as terminals of the few computers who control it all, and basically let all that computing power just not be used.

    and having a distributed system in which every processor is used to its fullest in local space and so the computing power of 100 million computers make it all work.

    [arbitrary large number for the point]

    the idea that some percentage of people that amounts to less than 1% could cover all the choices and reasons of the rest of them is inane for quantities above planning in a family or local group, which do so voluntarily (which becomes a important limiting factor coordinating all those separate computational elements: people)

    even if they could do all that we would still be faced with the immoral point that they shouldnt do that. and that their own ideology (nihilism) actually concludes taht they shouldnt.

    after all, if we are going no where slowly, and there is no where to actually go, then grabbing the wheel to take us nowhere faster (but end up going no where even slower than before) makes no sense.

    it doesnt even make sense from a comfort level as it did during aristocratic past… today a person can with moderate wealth live very comfortably many times better than in prior history. wasting all your life in a struggle to get control to steer us to a different nowhere, is not really enjoying what your acquiring. so accept that these people hare an unreformable compulsion

    or as heinlein put it
    “Political tags-such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth-are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” — Robert A Heinlein

    and the latter tend to lose to the former and be enslaved as they are not willing to fight as high to prevent them as they are willing to fight to succeed.

  80. Artfldgr Says:

    Baby boom for the over-forties but overall birth rate is down

  81. Tatyana Says:

    Thank you, T – VDH is thorough and persuasive, as usual.

  82. Konrad Says:

    @ jon baker @ T

    Arguments, at last. Took a while.

    To jon baker’s and T’s assertion that consumption generates wealth is a myth — that’s a bit puzzling to me. jon-baker, you say “that is the crux of the issue-the false idea that consumption, rather than production ,generates wealth.” But if you produces something without having one to buy it, how does that generate revenues? You’ll end up like GM with a lot of cars no-one is buying. Accordingly. production without consumption seems a strange thought. It may be different in other areas in which you do not produce things but create or deliver services, financial products etc., but even there you’ll have to have someone to buy it or you go bust. So I don’t see how you can sidestep the consumption-part.

    @ T

    You state that “…that the spending policies of a U.S. RINO congress are not representative, especially spending on social programs invented by former Democratic congresses. This was a case of beltway Republicans thinking that it was now their turn to spend like Democrats. It was not the spending policies that led to the economic boom of Reagan through Bush (43) but the reduced taxation which encouraged new development, which in turn encouraged new production, which in turn generated new revenues, which in turn generated greater tax revenue for the govt.”

    This is indeed a nice summary, but three questions remain:

    1) How could the fiscal policies of Reagan through Bush (43) be successful despite a Republican dominated Congress (at least 1994) that you denigrate as RINOs? Did Reagan govern against Democrats and Republicans at the same time? How did he do that? And if all theses Republicans are not representative for the true republican / conservative fiscal policy you prefer, than the onus of telling who the true representative are lies on you, not me. Simply because you never state and I don’t know your preferred conservative sect — that does not invalidate my talking in general about Republican / conservative fiscal policy

    2) And where did Reagan, Bush 1 and later Bush 2 end up? – The affluence of the late 80s and 90s was on credit! (The exception is Clinton, whom everyone from the Right fought as mad as hell. So don’t claim his fiscal policy as part of your argument). Neither was there much worth created, nor was the rosy times at any rate paid for. It was ordinary tax-reduction-paid-for-by-deficit-spending. In a word: the high time for the free riders and free lunchers in the USA. Reagonomics (and in Great Britain Thatcherism) worked via privatization, tax-reduction, spending-cuts, deficit-spending, de-regulation of markets abroad.

    The results (be it in Great Britain or the USA) are same: privatization of former public- and government-run services delivered on the whole worse quality than before; de-regulation of work- and safety standards took there human and environmental tolls; tax-cuts yielded the volitional explosion of deficit so that Republicans had their desired excuse for cutting social programs and reduce government. (Ironically every Republican president, bloated government, agencies and public-sector-workforce.)

    3) You say that “…the reduced taxation … encouraged new development, which in turn encouraged new production, which in turn generated new revenues, which in turn generated greater tax revenue for the govt.” New developments and new production were not encouraged by reduced taxation. The rise of the computer-technology as a main branch of production and revenue wasn’t helped by tax-reduction, but by risk-affine entrepreneurship combined with the help of risk-capital. Most advances in medicine, pharmacy, nano-technology, biology, bio-engineering that let to new products where achieved through years of public spending in pure research at universities, not from tax-exempted entrepreneurs in the private sector. (Those were only the ones who benefited from the public paid research.) So it is simply an unsupported claim to say that tax-reductions had anything to do with new developments reaching to new products.

    Your next point is about incentives to work, and the effects redistribution has on those willing to take their chances. “Redistribution not only contributes no economic incentive, is discourages whatever economic incentive already exists in the very people most equipped to create it.” We can hair-split over this sentence long and wide (especially about the ideological undertone), but I think the problematic feature here is the belief that taxation is a kind of redistribution. That would be the case if taxation would equal dispossession. There are many arguments about this claim, I think it is false and I suppose you think it is true. But a middle-ground is possible if you admit that there has to be at least some form of taxation to generate the revenues to pay for public endeavours like infrastructure, defense, etc. How much and for what the money should be spent, who should spent it in the name of whom, are further questions.

    Victimized taxpayers: It’s mostly the better-offs who complain about high taxation. And it’s the american right who presents itself for decades now as victims of a witch-hunt and smear-campaign. Being a poor victim is very comfortable: You have no responsibility for your actions, because everything you do is in pure self-defense. So you’re never a culprit, what means: the enemy is. So the only ones who constantly present themselves as victims are the right wings, the conservatives, the tea-*******, the Limbaughs, the FoxNews-watcher. And those feeling unfairly taxed. I don’t see this attitude on the left.

    Whether envy is the motivating factor behind much ‘tax the rich’-claims, I cannot say. Usually you hear this kind of claim from the better-offs, who simultaneously claim that all they have achieved they have achieved on their own, through their own labor. Equally the claim that welfare provokes laziness (dependence) and eschews personal responsibility is a common one. And there is something to that one, but I think as a generalization it is plainly wrong and untenable. Normally it is used to belittle others, and as a psychological claim it is unsubstantiated. Such claims do not prove anything, they simply show ones attitude.

    Concerning your appeal to my personal egoism: Well, I earn below average; I work for my money; I don’t accept hand-outs even if I could have; and I pay my taxes willingly, because I think it is necessary and fair. I don’t think about other people as above or below me in a tree. There are some who are better off, other who are less so. As human being we have to help others in need. And even if fraud and laziness occur, that’s not an argument from refraining to pay taxes. It’s even not an argument for perfecting the distribution systems: Fraud, laziness, free rides and squandering always occur in social services. But to prevent that is to abolish the service at all or to introduce means of controls that are condescending to the majority of people using these services properly. Services to which people are entitle to by law.

    In the end it’s always amusing to see how you and other people like PlatoBunker (11:53) turn nuts when term “tea-bagger” occur. First of all: There was that picture of the lady with straw-hat, tea-bags attached to it, on a rally of the “Tea-Party” in 2009. So the image comes from your vicinity, not mine. And second: Be honest, do you really think Limbaugh, Beck, Hanity, Coultier would have missed the chance to use such a term and image to ridicule their political enemy on the left? You would have cheered him on! (Or do you really have a problem with Limbaughs “regime”-tag for the Obama-administration?) So accept the fire that you and your friends are willing to spread on your foes. Or is it that only the conservatives are allowed to blare their invectives around, but everyone else has to behave nicely and decently? As I reminded PlatoBunker above: Who was it that yelled “traitor”, “Kill him”? Who spat at Representatives of the Congress, who turned nuts in the Town Hall Meetings in 2009? Tea Baggers, pure and simple.

  83. IgotBupkis Says:


    > Polls show that while most French see a pension overhaul as necessary, up to 60 percent say working past 60 is not the answer.

    “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that man behind the tree…”


  84. bilejones Says:

    The game is over in the US, just as in Europe. It’s interesting to see that it’s possible to pump and dump, not just sectors or markets but whole economies, countries and continents.

    We are seeing the final looting of the West, the game has moved on to Asia. In 50 years, Africa.

  85. IgotBupkis Says:

    > The exception is Clinton,

    Oh, give me a BREAAAAAK.

    Clinton is not an “exception” in any way, shape, or form. NET FEDERAL DEBT ROSE UNDER CLINTON, albeit slower than other times. Why?

    Because of the then-not-RINO Republican Congress’ spending policies, that’s what.

    And it’s really, really trivial to find the description of how Clinton managed to “balance” the budget… he got cash advances off the Social Security Credit Card and used them to make it appear as though he was spending within the budget.

    THIS crap all ties to the fact that governments imagine that they don’t have to adhere to GAAP — Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (or Principles). They figure they can play fast and loose with the numbers with no consequences.

    Well, the butcher’s bill is knocking on the door. And in some places, like Greece, it wants in REAL BAD.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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