by Ken Gorrell,
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
The political circus we call the “First in the Nation Primary” has packed up and moved on. Good riddance, I say. At the risk of losing my New Hampshire-born-and-raised membership card, I would shed no tears if the “honor” of casting the first ballots in the most expensive and least-satisfying political event in the world were passed to another victi..uh, I mean, state. About the only thing I miss are the dozens of glossy mailers I received each week. They were great for getting the wood stove fired up in the morning.
The primary has taken on for me the air of a “Something Wicked This Way Comes” carnival. But unlike in the Ray Bradbury story, love and laughter can’t defeat the dark forces that makes us seek out and spend time with the liars and charlatans, the power-hungry, the overconfident, and the delusional, all here seeking our vote. Okay, okay: Your preferred candidate wasn’t any of those things…but the primary results prove that a heck of a lot of your neighbors were taken in by candidates who promised things they couldn’t possibly deliver, due to the fact that such things were either beyond the power of the presidency or the laws of science.
Don’t believe me? Look no further than Exhibit A: Sen. Bernie Sanders. The winner of the Democrat primary made $18 trillion worth of promises, and even backed them up with a wonderfully psychedelic (as in LSD trip) table on his campaign website purporting to show where some of the money to pay for it all would come from. The Wall Street Journal ran the numbers, calling the proposals “an array of new programs that would amount to the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history.” As if our current $21 trillion in public debt isn’t enough…and never mind the more than $80 trillion in unfunded liabilities from our completely mismanaged Social Security, Medicare, and federal pension programs.
But never fear; the Washington Post was ready with the soothing explanation that “while Sanders does want to spend significant amounts of money, almost all of it is on things we’re already paying for; he just wants to change how we pay for them.” But the Post was slippery with the “we.” In the first case, it meant private citizens using their own money buying goods and services they value, like education and health care. In the second case, it meant “taxpayers,” newly on the hook to provide entitlements to everyone, using that amazing model of efficiency and moral purity, the federal bureaucracy. It’s a system that rewards our worst impulses and punishes those acting on the better angels of our nature.
Now that you have finished helping your kids pay off their college loans, or are currently sacrificing and saving for their education, are you ready to reach deep to pay for the educational expenses of everyone else’s kids, when you’ll have absolutely no say in how hard they apply themselves or whether their chosen major will give them any economic viability? Are you ready to cover the health care expenses of one of the least health-conscious, most obese populations in the developed world, making such care a right without concomitant responsibilities? Does the Post really expect readers to gloss over the differences between private debt and public debt, or between private actions/consequences and public entitlement?
Sanders’ plan — though what he’s produced is hardly deserving of that label — depends upon the complete suppression of human nature. He wants voters to believe that they can get all the goodies he’s promising by “taxing the rich.” But changing the tax code to take more money from people who are well-positioned and predisposed to keep as much of it as they can isn’t a long-term strategy, never mind the morality of it. Projecting ten years of revenue from tax code manipulations assumes “the rich” won’t change their behaviors, won’t do what any sentient being would do: protect what they have. If the past is any guide, Bernie’s programs would be much costlier than projected and the actual revenues much less. At some point, “the rich” –meaning those who will be forced to sacrifice in order to pay the bill — will be you.
Sanders is the most egregious example, but every other candidate suffers from the same problem of promising more than could possibly be delivered, simply because we demand it. Each played a part in a system built on expectation fulfillment so outrageous it would make Santa Claus cry and Ayn Rand shrug. Even conservative champion Ronald Reagan couldn’t rid us of the Department of Education. What hope does a one-term senator have in leading us from the Progressive darkness back into the warm glow of our founding principles?
The political spotlight now shines on South Carolina, and about the only thing the nation will remember of us is that we’re the most drug-addicted state in the nation. Or maybe that we’re the least religious. Let’s hope those damning labels change before the spotlight returns in four short years. Until then, it’s back to our regular programming.
Ken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org