Glenn Harlan Reynolds in the Washington Examiner explains why the growth in something-for-nothing attitudes can and will come to grief:
“Fifty thousand for what you didn’t plant, for what didn’t grow. That’s modern farming — reap what you don’t sow.”
That’s a line from a song about farm subsidies, “Farming The Government,” by the Nebraska Guitar Militia.
But these days it applies to more and more of the U.S. economy, as Charles Sykes points out in his new book, A Nation Of Moochers: America’s Addiction To Getting Something For Nothing.
The problem, Sykes points out, is that you can’t run an economy like that. If you tried to hold a series of potluck dinners where a majority brought nothing to the table, but felt entitled to eat their fill, it would probably work out badly. Yet that’s essentially what we’re doing.
[. . .]
But the damage goes deeper. Sykes writes, “In contemporary America, we now have two parallel cultures: An anachronistic culture of independence and responsibility, and the emerging moocher culture.
“We continually draw on the reserves of that older culture, with the unspoken assumption that it will always be there to mooch from and that responsibility and hard work are simply givens. But to sustain deadbeats, others have to pay their bills on time.”
And, after a while, people who pay their bills on time start to feel like suckers. I think we’ve reached that point now:
- People who pay their mortgages — often at considerable personal sacrifice — see others who didn’t bother get special assistance.
- People who took jobs they didn’t particularly want just to pay the bills see others who didn’t getting extended unemployment benefits.
- People who took risks to build their businesses and succeeded see others, who failed, getting bailouts. It rankles at all levels.
And an important point of Sykes’ book is that moocher-culture isn’t limited to farmers or welfare queens. The moocher-vs-sucker divide isn’t between the rich and poor, but between those who support themselves and those nursing at the government teat.