Just as no one knows the cause of earthquakes, sudden mass culture changes are a matter of great mystery to sociologists. History is rife with instances of these shifts. Communist Russia was seen as heroic, but then all of America changed its mind in 1946. Cigarettes were once the epitome of cool, but now smokers are pariahs huddled outside office buildings as if waiting for the next train to Auschwitz. And of course, there’s Adam Lambert.
So it is that after eleven years, America has suddenly lost its taste for a fiscal policy best described as crack whore gonzo. Reasonable people can differ on what primal forces galvanized the vox populi, but one thing is beyond dispute: Regis Philbin doing the Macarena is currently cooler than deficit spending.
While the situation is understandably vexing to President Obama and his supporters, it needn’t be taken personally. If gasoline was at $2.50 a gallon and unemployment was around five percent, there would likely be little public interest in deficit spending.
But the hard truth was always supply and demand. If allowed to continue on the same curve as seen in the past eleven years, the supply of American debt will probably surpass world demand within five years. The debt must be reduced; the only valid question is how.
It will be heard much in coming months, about ‘balancing budgets on the backs of the poor and the middle class.’ Well, the word ‘backs’ is an inflammatory rhetorical device, but yeah. Balancing the budget will greatly affect the poor and middle class, because they’re the people who’ve been getting all the money for decades.
At least the non-working poor understand where the largesse has been coming from. The middle class though, I’m not so sure.
In a recent survey, 44 percent of Social Security recipients said they don’t get any government assistance. Even ‘rugged individualists’ who sit in Tudor cottages on wooded lots once got Pell grants while attending government sponsored colleges. Convenient self-delusion and wanton ignorance run deep in a culture now faced with the consequences of wanting a mild form of socialism but not wanting to pay for it, for about four decades.
There’s a centuries’ old Arabic saying. “Trust in Allah always, but tie up your own camel.” Obviously it advises not to trust to others the details you should reasonably see to yourself. As the world’s largest economy now lumbers slowly towards austerity, and hopefully through to prosperity, there will be many small government advocates who will learn they haven’t tied up their own camels for a long time.