Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: 'Send me my checks till I'm dead' -
Posted on 10/24/2005 3:22:59 PM PDT by UnklGene
Mark Steyn: Send Me My Checks Till Im Dead
As Jerry Ford likes to say, A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.
And thats true. But theres an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isnt big enough to get you to give any of it back.
Thats the position European governments find themselves in. Their citizens have become hooked on unaffordable levels of social programs which in the end will put those countries out of business. Just to get the Social Security debate in perspective, projected public-pensions liabilities are expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8 percent of GDP in the U.S. In Greece, the figure is 25 percent i.e., total societal collapse. So what? shrug the voters. Not my problem. I paid my taxes, I want my benefits.
This is the paradox of social democracy. When you demand lower taxes and less government, youre damned by the Left as selfish. And, to be honest, in my case thats true. Im glad to find a town road at the bottom of my drive, and Im happy to pay for the Army and a new fire truck for a volunteer fire department every now and then, but, other than that, Id like to keep everything I earn and spend it on my priorities.
The Left, on the other hand, offers an appeal to moral virtue: Its better to pay more in taxes and to share the burdens as a community. Its kinder, gentler, more compassionate, more equitable. Unfortunately, as recent European election results demonstrate, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellows enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldnt give a hoot about the broader societal interest; hes got his, and if its going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till hes dead, its fine by him. Social democracy is, in that sense, explicitly anti-social.
Somewhere along the way these countries redefined the relationship between government and citizen into something closer to pusher and junkie. And once youve done that, its very hard to persuade the junkie to cut back his habit. Thus, the general acceptance everywhere but America that the state should run your health care: A citizen of an advanced democracy expects to be able to choose from dozens of breakfast cereals at the supermarket, hundreds of movies at the DVD store, and millions of porno sites on the Internet, but when it comes to life-or-death decisions about his own body hes happy to have the choice taken out of his hands and given to the government.
My problem with this is not a fiscal one. I couldnt care less about the deficit, if indeed it still exists the Dems and the media seem to have gone very quiet over it. These government programs would still be wrong even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover them every month. In fact, Id go further and say that these days big government is now a national-security issue. Commenting on a series of columns I wrote about the British Muslim community, the blogger Dean Esmay suggested that I wouldnt be able to make the same case about American Muslims. And basically hes right. To be sure, America like Britain has obnoxious dissembling Islamic lobby groups, but as the years go by you cant help but notice important differences between U.S. and other Western Muslims. The number of British, Canadian, and European Islamists captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere, for example, has not been matched by any equivalent numbers among American passport holders. Important figures in the 9/11 conspiracy plus Ahmed Ressam (the millennium bomber) plus Richard Reid (the shoe bomber) plus the July 7th London bombers were all graduates of the Euro-Canadian welfare system. Say what you like about John Walker Lindh, but at least the great Marin County jihadist took up arms against America on his parents dime, not the taxpayers.
Beyond that, there seem to be no American equivalents of the uglier phenomena of European multiculturalism the Muslim gang-rapists in France or the Muslim yobs in Yorkshire, who on the night of September 11 rampaged through the streets banging on the hoods of cars and demanding the drivers join them in cheering Osama bin Laden. The reason seems obvious: If you tried to do that to a pick-up truck in Texas, youd get your head blown off. The bullying, intimidating side of Muslim immigration in Europe seems to be wholly absent here in part at least because the assertiveness of the individual American citizen makes it a riskier proposition.
Thats also the lesson of 9/11. The first three planes were effectively an airborne European Union, where the rights of the citizens had been appropriated by the FAAs flying nanny state. On the fourth, Flight 93, Todd Beamer and others reclaimed those rights, and demonstrated that they could exercise them more efficiently than government.
The modern social-democratic state is so corrosive of its citizens will and so enervating in its elevation of secondary priorities (welfare, paid vacation) over primary ones (family, national defense) that most of them will not survive this great existential struggle. In America, a wartime president should understand that this is no time to increase his own citizenrys addiction to entitlement. A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have, starting with your sense of self-reliance.
I heard Ford say this on TV when I was about 16. It was at that moment I became a Republican.
Mark Steyn ping.
Thank goodness, although if we keep allowing muslims to immigrate here, they'll increase their bullying as they have everywhere else.
Strange all of this hostility at the European way of doing things.
A few notes for the file:
Per capita cost of health care in "socialist" France (really it's just national health insurance, like US Medicare: the doctors are private) is a lot lower than in the US, and people live longer and there's a lower infant mortality rate too. How, then, is this an example of Europe going off the deep end, while the virtuous Americans...who spend about three times as much, don't cover everybody, die younger and lose more babies are on the "right" course?
The American budget deficit is the one that is ballooning crazily out of control.
In the US, there are strike lawsuits again McDonalds for serving...hot coffee! The American legal system burdens Americans many orders of magnitude than the European.
It's Boeing and GM, Ford and the US airlines that are buckling under the costs of pensions. The European system is expensive, but it's not driving Airbus, Air France and Renault out of business.
It's just tough to listen to everything that's wrong with Europe, when American government spending is out of control, and Americans have worse control of their borders than the US does.
Amen to that.
Arent those European companies you mentioned supported by the state in some capacity? Maybe thats why.
......"in part at least because the assertiveness of the ARMED individual American citizen makes it a riskier proposition."
10's of millions of Military Veterans -- most of them armed, is a demographic that horrifies the Left and our potential enemies..
Their citizens have become hooked on unaffordable levels of social programs
I thought this was a story about Missouri until the rest of the sentence. So many people are really PO'd at our Republican (yes!) governor because he has cut so many programs. I think its cool! Seniors and the 'poor' are screaming the loudest. Its grand to hear my parents complain.
at their own risk.....
Go back to your opium smoker, deviant........
I do wish dairy goats were allowed as prolifically in the US as they are in Europe.
Land of the Free and the Brave has fallen the way of the Agenda Bulldozer.
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