unintended consequences

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The Rise And Fall Of Western Civilization

It's kind of odd listening to President Obama out on the campaign trail. To hear him tell the story, nothing is his fault. Frankly, as an American, it's kind of embarrassing. Whatever happened to "the buck stops here?"

Over the past several weeks, America's current financial situation has been blamed on President Bush (as usual), the earthquake in Japan, the Arab Spring movement, non-specific "economic headwinds," and even bad luck. It seems that President Obama is prepared to blame anything and everything for our economic troubles...everything, that is, except his own policies.

The main problem is that President Obama and much of his administration have been denying reality - they were telling America that we were coming out of the recession, when the truth was, we weren't. They held on to that delusion for as long as possible, but now it seems that reality has finally become undeniable.

I can give President Obama the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the earthquake in Japan, but when it gets right down to it, policies are the problem, not any specific events.

Case in point: the United States government's credit rating was recently downgraded by S&P. The Democrats' immediate reaction was to blame the Tea Party, saying that if those damn conservatives weren't clogging up the political process, we could move the process along. The Democrats, of course, continue to disillusion themselves with the idea that taxing the rich will somehow solve our debt problems. Look at what happened immediately after the debt limit was increased: the government ate up 60 percent of the gap in one day!
The debt ceiling was never the problem. Our fiscal policy is the problem. Our debt policy is the problem. And if we continue down the road we're on now, we will never find any solutions.

In an address on August 8, President Obama made a rather audacious statement:

Last week, we reached an agreement that will make historic cuts to defense and domestic spending. But there's not much further we can cut in either of those categories.

While the president was right that the cuts were "historic," he could not have been more wrong when he said "there's not much further we can cut." Nothing could be further from the truth. The cuts were historic primarily in that they were historically useless: the President achieved his goal of raising the debt ceiling, but the mantra that the Tea Party achieved their goal with the cuts was completely false - the Tea Party wanted cuts that would actually bring responsibility into our government.

By the way, if President Obama needs some help finding places where we can cut spending, Senator Tom Coburn has a page on his website dedicated to identifying government waste...it's worth checking out.
So much of the West's economic hardship has been brought on as unintended consequences of modern liberalism, it truly is surprising that more people haven't come to that realization...but, then, too many people like their government cheese.

Just look at the riots in Greece, London, and the recent spate of violent "flash mobs" here in the United States. All of these can be traced back to redistributionist philosophies brought on by the welfare state and the belief that it is the government's job to redistribute the wealth. When the Greek government had to face the reality that they could no longer afford their entitlement programs, the resulting riots threw that nation into chaos. England has already gone through a couple of phases of rioting, first brought on by a rise in college tuition rates, because that nation cannot afford to fund its massive entitlement programs. The most recent round of riots in London were full of people demanding their "fair share" from the "rich," responding to exactly the kind of class warfare rhetoric spread by the Democratic Party here in America, which begs the question: how long will it be before London-style riots come here to America?

We are already seeing the beginnings here. The trend of violent flash mobs appear to be primarily racially motivated - perhaps a result of the decades of race-baiting here in the United States, where now white people are accused of racism simply for disagreeing with the policies of an African-American president.

The modern welfare state is collapsing under its own weight, but Western governments face the impossible task of scaling back entitlement systems that large segments of their populations feel entitled to. Just look at the chaos that broke out in Wisconsin when the government scaled back the chokehold that the public employee unions had on the government - it didn't matter that scaling back the union rules kept many teachers from being laid off, all that mattered was that they weren't getting "their fair share." And in Wisconsin, the measures that were painted as cruel and horrible have led to economic recovery in that state.

The US Postal Service, which loses billions of dollars every year, is looking to get out of some of its union healthcare and pension obligations, because it could find more affordable options outside of the union regulations. How long will it be before we see widespread strikes and protests from postal workers?

When Western politicians came out in support of the Arab Spring, it worried me. As great as it was to see people in the Middle East protesting oppressive regimes, there were too many parallels drawn here at home comparing mob rule to democracy. The two are not one and the same, yet I cannot help but think that support for the Middle Eastern mob has led to the current uprisings Western governments are struggling with today.

How much of our current turmoil is just the unintended consequences of policies enacted based on the best of liberal intentions? Western governments are going broke under the weight of entitlement programs that the politicians cannot touch under thread of widespread unrest. No wonder the United States Congress lacks the political will to solve our debt problems - the Tea Party has stepped to the plate and offered the real "shared sacrifice" that could very well solve our problems, but the Democrats will never sign on to measures like Cut, Cap and Balance, because in doing so, they would turn welfare recipients (one of their core constituencies) against them.

But entitlement programs are part of the cause in other ways, as well - as Ann Coulter pointed out in a recent column, the modern entitlement system is collapsing under its own weight because our government is subsidizing behavior that is bad for society. How our politicians could implement these kinds of programs without seeing how they encourage certain behaviors is rather bizarre. They raise taxes on cigarettes with the stated goal of stopping smoking, yet they subsidize joblessness and single motherhood, seemingly thinking that those subsidies will have no effect on our society. Well, we are reaping the benefits now.

One of the main problems in America today is that our economy is stagnating. Oil prices are high - the unintended consequence of a drilling moratorium and unrest in the Middle East. Unemployment is high - the unintended consequence of high taxes, overbearing government regulations, and continuing unemployment subsidies. Government debt is out of control - the unintended consequences of union contracts, gargantuan entitlement programs, "stimulus" spending, and ongoing nation-building campaigns. Our currency continues to lose value - the unintended consequence of the Fed's constant insistence that printing more money will somehow solve our problems. Racial violence is on the rise - the unintended consequence of decades of race-baiting in the name of "civil rights." Mob violence is on the rise - the unintended consequence of support for mobs in foreign nations.

Today's Democratic talking point is that the rich need to "pay their fair share." Never mind that the wealthy are already carrying most of America's tax burden. Much of the recent London violence has been perpetrated at the hands of people who said they were just taking "their fair share" from the rich - and so, the unintended consequence of the politicians' class warfare rhetoric were widespread riots, property destruction, and looting. If that rhetoric continues here at home, it is only a matter of time before we will see similar violence in our own cities.

It is abundantly clear that the current leadership in Washington - President Obama, Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernake, Harry Reid, etc. do not have solutions to our continuing economic problems. In fact, the policies they put into place stand as some of the primary reasons why our economic stagnation continues...yet what "solutions" are they offering? President Obama is talking about another stimulus bill - spending money we don't have on things we don't need (and before you start talking about roads and bridges, do a Google search for the words "stimulus waste" to see the noble endeavors that the first stimulus bill funded). The Fed is talking about another round of "quantitative easing" - printing more money to pay off our debt. Never mind that QE1 and QE2 have already devalued our currency to dangerous levels, causing inflation here at home and worsening the economic situation in nations around the world that depend on stability of the US dollar.

President Obama likes to talk about how the "failed policies of the past" got us to where we are today. Well, he's right, in a way. The West is drowning in a sea of unintended consequences - policies that were enacted with the best of intentions, but have resulted in dangerous debt, unstable currency, and economic stagnation. It is high time we stopped judging our politicians and their policies by their intentions, and started taking a good, hard look at the consequences of their actions.

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Updated May 22, 2018 6:39 PM UTC | More details


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