One of my earliest memories of revulsion against war came from seeing a photograph from the First World War when I was a teenager. It was nothing gory. Just a picture of a military officer, in an impressive uniform, talking to a puzzled and forlorn-looking old peasant woman with a cloth wrapped around her head.
He said simply: "Don't you understand, madam? The village is not there any more."
To many such people of that era, the village was the only world they knew. And to say that it had been destroyed in the carnage of war was to say that there was no way for them to go back home, that their whole world was gone.
Recently that image came back, in a wholly different context, while seeing pictures of American seniors carrying signs that read "Hands off my Social Security" and "Hands off my Medicare."
They want their Social Security and their Medicare to stay the way they are -- and their anger is directed against those who want to change the financial arrangements that pay for these benefits.
Their anger should be directed instead against those politicians who were irresponsible enough to set up these costly programs without putting aside enough money to pay for the promises that were made -- promises that now cannot be kept, regardless of which political party controls the government.
Someone needs to say to those who want Social Security and Medicare to continue on unchanged: "Don't you understand? The money is not there any more.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Thomas Sowell on the endless tug-of-war over "reforming" the American welfare state (h/t the Free Will brother):
The amazing thing is that the "respectable" position continues to be that of the Democrats who speak of lock-boxes, and Social Security Trusts, and the promises made to the elderly; as if there was a big pot of money sitting around waiting to be disbursed to retirees. Yet these same Democrats - often the same people! - have also arranged to spend this money to fund current expenditures. And, all along, the "disreputable" position has been to point out that the system is unsustainable, that it needs to be restructured, and that providing for retirement need not be done through the mediating hand of the government.
Making things worse: the public debate does not focus on pointing out the essentially criminal fraud of the "respectable" position because the MSM that has arrogated to itself the position of the nation's public forum will inevitably focus on the "throw Grandma off the cliff" aspects of the debate, even when reformers go out of their way to exclude the over-55 set from their proposed reforms.
We are walking quickly towards disaster, but the best educated (hah!) among us are actively working to stay the course.
Interesting times &c.