Monday, January 14, 2013

Michael Barone: History Suggests That Entitlement Era Is Winding Down

This is a piece that I came across today by Michael Barone in which he points out that many eras in American history occurred within the boundaries of 76 year intervals:
"It was 76 years from Washington's First Inaugural in 1789 to Lincoln's Second Inaugural in 1865. It was 76 years from the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 to the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Going backward, it was 76 years from the First Inaugural in 1789 to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which settled one of the British-French colonial wars. And going 76 years back from Utrecht takes you to 1637, when the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay colonies were just getting organized.
As for our times, we are now 71 years away from Pearl Harbor. The current 76-year interval ends in December 2017."
The big changes that occurred at the end of each period brought about major shifts that undid the way things had been done in the 76 years prior:
 "The original arrangements in each 76-year period became unworkable and unraveled toward its end. Eighteenth-century Americans rejected the colonial status quo and launched a revolution and established a constitutional republic.
Nineteenth-century Americans went to war over expansion of slavery. Early 20th-century Americans grappled with the collapse of the private sector economy in the Depression of the 1930s.
We are seeing something like this again today. The welfare state arrangements that once seemed solid are on the path to unsustainability."
It would be nice to think that this is true of our current entitlement era, as Barone has named it, but I don't think this will turn out to be the case. His other examples, such as the revolt against Britain and the U.S. Civil War, came about in large part because of cultural shifts that were irreconcilable to the existing order.

What kind of cultural shift do we have going on now?

Bosch Fawstin, From Freedom to Freebies

Unless Barone's thesis is that the end of this bullshit is going to come about on its own (and it might, if it's not deliberately stopped - the math doesn't work), then the matching cultural change needed, like those that pushed the previous shifts he described, just isn't there. In fact, it seems that the cultural shift is in the other direction, toward greater dominance of our lives by these monstrosities that past generations created because of a dominant preference for redistributionism. Perhaps the end of this 76 year period and the start of the next will not be an orderly fall of the welfare state, but of its adherents all-out attempt to push it to a full eclipse of what little of a free market, capitalist society we've had up until now, the impossibility of making it work be damned. After all, Social Security, the beginning of centralized Federal welfare, is now in its 78th year and these problems are not unknown, but look at how our last Federal election turned out...

This is going to hurt.

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