Sunday, April 03, 2011

Fall of Empires (updated)

Yesterday I spoke of college kids protesting the likelihood of higher tuition and chanting, “Tax the rich.” I did not ask, then, why those kids are even attending college in the first place.

A few of them are probably there in pursuit of quenching a thirst for knowledge, but I suspect they are in a very small minority. Many are there because they cannot find a job, and going to college is a way to continue living at home on your parents’ health insurance and with others paying the bills. Others are there because college is the ticket to greater income, and their goals are about income. Other are there for no reason other than that Obama has been prattling that every child should have a college education and those kids’ parents have been listening to his nonsensical mantra of “the jobs of the future will require a college education.” As if we will no longer need truck drivers, or construction workers, or machinists…

None of them expect that they should have to pay for their own education.

Each side in this tribal war has its mantra. For conservatives it’s “Big government is bad,” for liberals it’s “Tax the rich.” Well, when another Katrina or the big earthquake hits the conservatives are damned well going to wish they had a bigger government, and for liberals, get a clue. If you taxed the income of people making more than $250,000 at a 100% rate, leaving them nothing to eat on and no ability to pay their bills, you would raise $1.4 trillion, which would not even erase the current annual deficit.

Democrats are calling Republicans idiots and Republicans are calling Obama a Socialist, when they aren’t calling him something worse, and nobody is being an adult and admitting that there is no free lunch. There will need to be some cuts in spending, but those cuts will need to be made by people who actually know what we are spending money on, not by politicians catering to an emotional mob which thinks that foreign aid is a substantial portion of our budget, and taxes will need to be raised, but they will need to be raised for the purpose of increasing revenue and not as a form of class warfare.

Whatever America wants to call itself, it is an empire, and empires fall when its citizenry becomes fat, lazy and unwilling to pay the cost of maintaining its way of life. We are there.

Update: Monday morning
I have no problem with people who are going to college on a scholarship or grant that they have earned through academic achievement, or on a GI Bill earned through military service, or on what their own family members are able to pay in their behalf. The vast majority of these students are going to school in a genuine search for knowledge, or are devoted to improving the lives of others, or to improving the community in which they live, or simply are committed to becoming better persons. And they are not out in the street chanting "Tax the rich."

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