Are we headed, like a lemming, into the sea, only to drown? (Lemmings, per myth, keep heading because of deep-rooted instincts toward the sea but don't stop, so they drown.)
Is this an exaggeration or a predictable reality? Where is prudence? Have we crossed the line? (The answer, in my assessment, is surely and clearly yes, but we don't seem to see it or want to see it, much as a teenager fails to predict the consequence of his/her actions.)
We want a workable balance, avoiding the extremes and rationally considering the inevitable trade-offs.
You pick the point that works for you.
The Dependency/SelfResponsibility Spectrum
Nanny State Balanced Libertarian
Dependency Adequate safety net Hardly any gov
Give away freely, forgetting Protect citizens (safety)
that there is a cost for someone Allow free markets, protect against abuse
Special interest groups favored Only limit abuse of power
Redistribute income Assure opportunity, be self productive
Deficits, borrowing Fiscal integrity, balanced budge
WHAT BALANCE, WHAT CONSEQUENCES?
"The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
Though appealing ideologically and especially for those who hope to get more without earning it, it has proven over and over and over not to work. For those countries with balanced capitalism and socialism, there are some that work but with trade-offs and costs. Where is the balance? Are we headed more for a nanny state and diminished productivity and prosperity in the U.S.
Yes, we all want to protect people who cannot do it for themselves. But surely we don't want to engage in the myth that the government can help and assure us but without someone else paying the price.
When the incentives disappear, productivity and prosperity go down. The size of the pie becomes smaller and smaller - and we tend to end up with smaller slices. Redistribution of income changes the percentage slice, but the total size of it diminishes over time. There is always a cost to give aways and take aways.
But on the other hand, we are a nation of compassion. So we have certain requirements where we protect citizens from what they have no control over. We set a minimum social safety net for those who cannot earn income due to handicaps and those who are thrown temporarily into extreme poverty. Yes, these programs have flaws, but we are generally responsible in our behavior. The level to provide is disputable.
Starvation is gone and few have a long time of hunger. Our poor live at a level far above most of the world - and of course we have to judge what is reasonable for our citizens.
None of this would be any problem, if there was unlimited money and a sugar daddy of the universe. But there are limits. We can't continue the give aways, beyond the minimum necessary for integrity of care, or we'll accumulate too much debt - and have the chicken come home to roost eventually, but on future generations - and/or we will end up killing the golden goose, ending up with less so that we can no longer afford the minimums.
"Later, man. Life is cool now. Let's live it up as if there is no tomorrow."
"Live for today. Damn the consequences (I can't see them anyway)."
Appears to be a saying of those politicians and many Americans who think we can give away things now and not have to balance the budget - we can ignore the debt and somehow it will all be solved in the indistinct future.
And those who propose limits are accused of being heartless, while those who give away other people's money are ever more popular.
So, where is Obama headed, based on his actual actions? Determine that for yourself. (There is no make-wrong intended here. We just want to look at what is happening and the projected consequences.)
When and where do we stop giving away what is not essential? I would suggest we stop until we balance the budget, solve the financial integrity of the (insolvent) Social Security and Medicare programs, and have reasonable taxes that do not stifle the ability to produce sufficient money to do what is wanted and needed.
The first two are easily measurable and solvable. The latter is a matter of judgment, considering the tradeoff of what we lose by pulling money out of private sector into the unproductive government sector (beyond the bare necessities of what government must provide).
Which would you stop, or would you let them continue "just for now" because it helps so many people and solves their problems for them? (Yes, as a politician, each of us can curry lots of favor and popularity by giving things to certain groups.)
Forgive student loans earlier (taking away receipts and burdening others, including future generations)
Cut mortgage costs for _____ (takes away income from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, increasing the needed bailouts; no good fairy here; no magic where nobody has to foot the bill)
Stop from contributing to Social Security and Medicare (i.e. payroll tax holiday) - Less money into these now causes greater bills later!!!!
Take $500 billion from Medicare (in the Advantage program, where Medicare pays an organization to take all the responsibility for the health care) to pay for ObamaCare - Is there magic here? Or is this creating more debt elsewhere (deficiencies in funds to pay for Medicare,where they'll have to be made up for 'later').
Let's support green jobs - Yes, let's do what is practical to assure our health and non-deterioration of our environment, but where is the limit? How much can we continue to do that is not productive or rational? (We can do centralized research but to invest in companies that make products where the government is a poor judge is foolish and unproductive.) Yes, green is good, but there are tradeoffs and costs always.