If you had to define a typical American today, what would you say? I’d say the “typical” American doesn’t exist any longer. There are now officially over 308 million of us. Just over half are female. About a quarter of us are under age 18. Nearly 13% are senior citizens. Less than 75% are caucasian. 22 million of us are veterans. We’ve also got roughly 11 million illegal aliens. About 2 million are incarcerated.
Our workforce consists of nearly 140 million employed people. Almost 15 million are “officially” unemployed. Roughly 9 million work part-time because they can’t find full-time work. Over 18 million work part-time for non-economic reasons. That leaves the giant catch-all category of 85 million Americans that are “not in the labor force”. So, take the 85 million, add in the part-timers and the unemployed and you get 126 million Americans without a full-time job. That’s 53% of our working age population.
Why do I mention all of these statistics? To illustrate what has become painfully obvious with the current disputes across the country concerning unions. In virtually any category you wish to examine, the minority is supporting the majority. An ever decreasing percentage of our population is working full-time driving the economy. The top 1% of income earners pay nearly 40% of personal income tax revenues. People are living longer putting increased pressure on pension plans, health care costs and social security payouts. You can throw out all the statistics. It’s clear that less people do more, pay for more and are responsible for more. Unsustainable in anyone’s book.
The fight in Wisconsin is virtually a waste of everyone’s time. It’s all over a moot point. The day is coming when we no longer will have anything to argue about. The decisions will be taken out of our hands. The unions desire to hold on to all of their gains over the decades concerning who pays for their benefits has only one possible outcome. Eventually the gravy train stops. The Governor of Wisconsin is trying to make the point just as Chris Christie has been doing in New Jersey. Cuomo is doing it in New York. Snyder is in Michigan. Even Jerry Brown of California is illustrating the problem despite having all the wrong solutions.
Of course, Obama and Pelosi and the rest of the liberal stalwarts are rallying behind their cause. When you are saddled with a delusional reality such as the liberal ideology of dependency, you can’t simply flip a switch and get religion. You go down with the ship. Liberals won’t wait until the bottom of the ninth inning to realize we’re all better off being accountable and responsible and taking care of ourselves. Maggie Thatcher told us socialists eventually run out of other people’s money to spend. But the idea doesn’t die.
The typical American used to embody the true spirit of what freedom is all about. The land of opportunity. Perseverance of hard work and a can-do attitude resulted in accomplishing the American dream. Maybe it was owning a home. Raising a family. Owning your own business. You merely needed to provide the dream, and America provided the chance to make it come true.
Today, we’re told American exceptionalism is a myth. That striving for achievement and getting ahead is wrong. That equality of outcome should be our goal. That it’s OK to be dependent on others. That you can make too much money and be too successful.
This is not America. America is compassionate to those in need, not to those who choose dependency. We will come to the aid of anyone, anywhere in the world at anytime without asking for anything in return. That’s American exceptionalism. It comes from the people. Obama can go around the globe apologizing for it, but he can’t take it away. But we the people can give it away if we don’t value it. Government dependency is a choice. Entitlement mentality is a choice.
I don’t believe that spirit is dead. For some of us, it needs to be re-awakened. It’s the type of spirit that breeds and spreads. We’re seeing it with the tea party. We’re seeing it with public opinion polls. It has a long ways to go, but it’s there.
For now, the debates and fights will go on and surely intensify as austerity is forced upon us. But I don’t see enough to think that we will stop it. Without question, our politicians aren’t going to do it. The House finally passed a budget for the remainder of FY2011, but it only has $61 billion in cuts. That won’t make it through the Senate. If it stays anywhere close to that number, Obama will likely veto and we’ll be on with the political gamesmanship of a government shutdown.
No one is going to touch the sacred cows of entitlements without being forced to. A true epic crash of our economy is what is required to give the politicians cover to finally address what must be done. No longer can employees, public or private, expect to receive benefits potentially exceeding the length of their working years. The expectations of people will have to reflect reality. Those fighting to hang on to the illusion that this is sustainable will soon be silenced out of necessity. Public opinion is against them. The majority is against them. The reality of economics is against them. So, despite all the press coverage and loud protesting, I wouldn’t pay it too much attention. They will be marginalized soon no matter what.