From Hunting and Gathering to Cost-Shifting and Entitlements

Jim Spence
Tens of thousands of years ago early man engaged in the crude and inefficient processes of hunting and gathering for nutritional sustenance. Eventually, the most adaptive of our species began to benefit from the wonderful economics involved in domesticating livestock as well as engaging in more advanced farming methods. It is important to recognize that once relatively industrious human beings began to master better food production techniques, their opportunities to provide charity for helpless individuals within the population improved. Living standards began to rise steadily. When the Industrial Revolution took hold, countless processes formerly done by human hands were mechanized. Machines soon began to do the backbreaking work once done by millions of men. As a result of the Industrial Revolution, living standards rose significantly.
The onset of the Information Age brought on wave after wave of vastly improved data processing and data storage capabilities. Technological advances added incredible efficiencies to the management of most aspects of human existence. As a result, living standards continued to rise steadily.
Sadly, a cancer began to attach itself to the basic processes that have always led to higher living standards. As the 20th Century unfolded, the evolution of politics began to pervert the attitudes of human beings towards charity. During the final third of the 20th century, millions of Americans gradually became convinced that charity wasn’t just for the helpless. Charity became something to be actively sought from government.
These days millions of American citizens, many who are idle and unproductive, are hunting and gathering again. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in hunting and gathering to PRODUCE value, they are hunting and gathering all sorts of goods and services which are seemingly provided by governments. In reality the costs of the goods and services they seek are paid for by taxpaying citizens. Cost shifting is the philosophical foundation on which the emergence of “Entitlement Era” was built. And the transition to the Entitlement Era began when politicians first discovered they could get re-elected by embracing public policies that stretch the idea of cost shifting far beyond a moral imperative to provide care for the helpless.
The education system has also played a major role in accommodating the onset of the Entitlement Era. Several generations of Americans have now been taught to believe that everyone can live happily ever after through public policies that embrace the notion of cost shifting.
The electoral mathematics involved in supporting cost shifting has become daunting. With ½ of all American households not paying income taxes while enjoying goods and services passed through by government, essentially at least half of America is now engaged in serious cost shifting. And those just beyond the cost shift dividing line, citizens who pay income taxes and accordingly bear a portion of other’s burdens, are compelled to constantly re-think the net benefits of engaging in hard work.
Long range economic realities will eventually ignore electoral math in the U.S. Every nation that has ever fully embraced widespread entitlements through cost shifting (see Greece) has wound up in the financial ash heap of history. As more and more Americans accept cost shifting as a legitimate means to an end, and fewer and fewer are actively pursuing the increasing of their productive skills, U.S. living standards are beginning to fall steadily.
And in what must best be described as the ultimate indictment of our government-managed education system, many Americans are actually wondering why living standards are falling. For taxpaying businesspeople, it is a jungle out there.



Jaxon said...

The Baby Boom generation and their educators are to blame for embracing and promoting dependence on government. Together they have systematically corrupted traditional American values and demonized productivity and those who have worked hard to succeed. We are more like Greece than many of us care to admit.

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