Sunday, May 23, 2010

A State That Works

Payback Time - Deficit Crisis Threatens Ample Benefits of European Life -

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.”

Mind you, this is a NYT column. Facts are facts -- Europe is bankrupt and so are we. Even the daft are starting to realize that "something that works" is WAY better than some wished for state that doesn't.

We may have had 5 or 10 years more to do some reasonable things in another world -- privatize part of Social Security, raise the retirement age, do away with capital gains taxes, lower or remove corporate taxes, drastically cut the size of government at all levels,  increase competitiveness in healthcare. That sort of stuff. We blew it. We killed privatization in '05, we elected Democrats in both houses in '06, and we missed our chance. The piper must be paid.

PARIS — Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

We could have long discussions on how "sustainable" the old capitalist system was. Plenty of environmentalists and other doomsayers have been saying "not" for at least 100 years. That is a complicated technical and economic discussion -- can knowledge leverage/replace resources with "smartness", do reserves of natural resources rise as the Present Value of them rises, etc, etc.

What is NOT complicated is that the demographics of the Welfare State in Europe, Japan, nor here were NEVER sustainable. There was the ILLUSION of sustainability because the difficulties came up on us in decades, and decades are way too long for most humans to really contemplate as being "high priority". This year always seems a MUCH higher priority than 10 years from now!

So what is no surprise to anyone with even a moderate interest to look into it, the dominoes fall. One thing that I remember from the '80s that I see as lost today, certainly in this article, but wider as well. What ever happened to the idea that our choice of career ought to be enjoyable, uplifting, a source of joy? There once was a time when "making something" and even "making a fortune" was actually GOOD --- when it made sense that people that had even accumulated vast wealth like Gates, Buffett, etc would still work because their work was part of their life mission.

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.”
"Have to work"? Has the meaningless parasitic life of the bureaucrat become something desired? Sadly,  in the Age of BO, where the political power wielded by overpaid over benefited employees at the public teat must be protected to continue the regime, has wasting your life and the resources of the nation to be a Democrat voting automaton become something desired? If so, we have but one more deeply entrenched problem that will need to be excised before we can more forward again.

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