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Entitlement class creep is everywhere | The Conservative Soldier

The Conservative Soldier

“If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.” (Ronald Reagan)

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Time to choose: Courage or cowardice?

April 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

The contemporary mainstream media is so sure it knows best. So, too, the elitist liberal Left. There is no hesitation to state the obvious, over and over again. Americans, so goes the logic, are so incredibly stupid they must be told what to eat, how to borrow money, how to cough and when to buy health insurance (immediately).

The august 60 Minutes devoted a segment to the stunning notion that sugar intake can be unhealthy. A recent study, hastily reported by the media, “revealed” that eating a lot of red meat might just kill you. (By virtue of frivolous lawsuits, coffee cups now warn that hot coffee is, well, hot).

The quest to save people from themselves misses a defining characteristic of American culture, however. There are American people who come in out of the rain and there are people who do not. You don’t have to convince a certain slice of the population that sugar makes them fat, while another (larger, in more ways than one) never will heed the dire reports. Never, ever. Why? The never-evers populate America’s ever expanding entitlement class.

You see it everywhere. Why do public union employees rage in places like Wisconsin and Ohio when reform is imposed, or even mentioned? Why do nearly half of American citizens gladly rely on monthly government financial support? Why is there chronic obesity? And while we’re at it, toss in one more: Why do adults dress so poorly in public, especially in airports and restaurants?

It is explained by one word: Entitlement. And it’s not limited to a sense of deserving government handouts and guarantees of health care and secure retirement. It creeps into every aspect of life. It breeds dysfunction, recklessness and slovenly appearances. It motivates otherwise harmless individuals to camp out in public parks and other recently “occupied” locations. It drives school teachers, people we trust to contribute to the well being of our children, to storm state capitols with signs, leaving behind litter and physical destruction, and ill will.

We’ve seen the short term consequences — filthy encampments in our cities, lice infested people with college educations (allegedly), willful lawlessness. And now we’re seeing the non-violent, long term consequences. In professions such as teaching, where entitlement creep has gone on unchecked for decades, there is an awakening to the damage done by government’s unrestrained feeding of the entitlement engine. Examples emerged recently from New York and Illinois, both bastions of ironclad Democrat/union rule.

A self-described “New York City public-employee retiree” who “assiduously supported my union in its fight against those who would diminish our benefits” writes in a letter to the editors of The Wall Street Journal, published Monday, that he is coming to understand the motivation of those who he has been fighting.

The retiree was prompted to write after reading about Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island’s state treasurer and a Democrat. Raimondo proposed dramatic overhauls of her state’s public pension structure. She then championed passage of a law to enforce the reforms. It passed with the support of 77 of 94 Democrats serving in the Rhode Island legislature.

“Our governor (Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat) … has been as honest about (unsustainable pensions) as any Democrat in a strong public-union state,” Frederic Wile, the retiree, wrote in the Journal. “Perhaps it is better to sacrifice now to save the future.”

What Mr. Wile proposes is as earth shattering as a sugar junkie suggesting that, just maybe, all of those soft drinks and candy bars might be resisted today so that chronic health issues are avoided tomorrow. In other words, this is a rare moment of clarity.

In Illinois we find another example of an ah-ha moment. There, Illinois Teachers Retirement System director Dick Ingram wrote an internal memo warning that the teachers’ savings plan could go broke in as little as 17 years. Illinois, reported the Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register when it obtained the memo, owes the savings plan $43 BILLION.

Ingram’s dire forecast is rooted in the same cold truth that inclined governors such as Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and John Kasich (Ohio) to flirt with political suicide in order to spare their public employees “Illinois syndrome”. The magnitude of Ingram’s outlook will undoubtedly devastate the union faithful in his state:

“This painful collision between what is fair and what is real is the outcome of the fact that the unfunded liability has grown to such a level that no one has been able to determine a reasonable plan or expectation to pay down this amount,” Ingram wrote. “If that is the case, the only other option available that would significantly change the amount owed is to reduce past service costs for active members and retirees.”

The question for Illinois lawmakers no longer is, “How do we get our fellow citizens to lay off the sugar?” Not to overstate it, but some never will be convinced they are not entitled to all they’ve been promised, and maybe more. Absent an easy way out, there now are but two paths, courage or cowardice. Cowards have run Springfield for decades (under the regime of House Speaker Michael Madigan), but acts by courageous public officials in a growing number of states, including Raimondo’s Rhode Island and Walker’s Wisconsin, suggest the cowards are losing their grip.

Nonetheless, the entitlement addicts have relentlessly pursued the recall of Walker. An election is scheduled for June 5 despite the positive upturn in Wisconsin’s economic outlook under the governor since he was elected in 2010.

Supported by millions of dollars channeled through the nation’s largest public unions, Democrat judges and lawmakers have used the entire liberal playbook to set up a Walker recall. Oddly, they’re also running the same opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, against whom Walker prevailed less than two years ago.
That’s either hubris of the highest order or plain stupidity.

Ronald Reagan famously declared in 1964 that Republicans had arrived at a “time for choosing”. That time is here again for economically tattered states. The choice is between passing the sugar or not, between entitlement addiction or rehab. But more than anything, the choice is courage or cowardice.

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