Sunday, February 28, 2010

Steyn on Greece

Mark Steyn has written one of those columns that only Mark Steyn can write, pointing out why Greece is in trouble and asking why Obama and the Democrats want us to follow their example:
What’s happening in the developed world today isn’t so very hard to understand: The 20th-century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless, insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany, and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social-democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over.
So you can’t borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don’t have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when ten grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?
We hard-hearted small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the Greek protests make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than the socially equitable communitarianism of big government: Once a chap’s enjoying the fruits of government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, and all the rest, he couldn’t give a hoot about the general societal interest; he’s got his, and to hell with everyone else. People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense.
The problem is there are never enough of “the rich” to fund the entitlement state, because in the end it disincentivizes everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the basic survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. 

The Welfare State is a giant Ponzi scheme and it only stays afloat as long as people have plenty of children. The authors of the welfare state probably never considered the possibility of demographic decline, just as those who gave us the housing bubble never considered the possibility that housing prices could decline. And as in the housing bust in the U.S., where bailouts of irresponsible financial institutions did not solve the underlying problems, bailing out entitlement states merely postpones the inevitable.

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