Saturday, May 8, 2010

OPM or other people's money

Margaret Thatcher once said, "...Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money." Her statement has been paraphrased as, "The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

In the past week we have watched what happened as Greece ran out of other people's money because not enough lenders will extend credit. Greece almost certainly will not be the last European country to be in this situation.

It is also worth noting that another name for systems that run out of other people's money is "Ponzi Scheme." Ponzi schemes are often very popular in their early stages and people who get caught in them are very resistant to any warnings that what seems to be too good to be true usually is. Too few people realize that the social welfare systems of the West are Ponzi schemes that depend on ever-increasing population growth. They are not sustainable with the low fertility rates of the industrialized world. Everyone who looks at the data recognizes this, but no politician dares to act on it.

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