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Hard work and sacrifice

Scott Jagow Sep 3, 2009

I read an interesting column this morning that poses the four “problems that could sink America.” It’s not a very encouraging look in the mirror, but I suppose the glass-half full crowd would say, hey, at least we’re not sunk yet! Either way, it raises some good debating points.

It’s from Rick Newman’s Flow Chart blog at US News and World Report.

First problem — we don’t like to work:

Sure, now that jobs are scarce, everybody’s willing to put in a few extra hours to stay ahead of the ax. But look around: We still expect easy money, hope to retire early, and embrace the oversimplistic message of bestsellers like The One Minute Millionaire and The 4-Hour Workweek. Unfortunately, the rest of the world isn’t sending as much money our way as it used to, which makes it harder to do less with more.

Number 2 — nobody wants to sacrifice

Why should we? The government is standing by with stimulus money, banker bailouts, homeowner aid, cash for clunkers, expanded healthcare, and maybe more stimulus money. And most Americans will never have to pay an extra dime for any of this. Somehow, $9 trillion worth of government debt will just become somebody else’s problem.

Number 3 — we’re uniformed:

The healthcare smackdown–sorry, “debate”–is Exhibits A, B, and C. The soaring cost of healthcare is a problem that affects most Americans. It’s shrinking paychecks, squeezing small businesses, bankrupting families and swelling the national debt. Yet outraged Americans seem most concerned about fictions like death panels and government-enforced euthanasia, while clinging to the myth that our current system of selective availability and perverse incentives somehow represents capitalist ideals. But let’s take a break from that burdensome issue to examine the likelihood that President Obama was born in a foreign country and hoodwinked America into believing he was eligible to run for president.

Number 4 — we want it all, for free

Rationing is a dirty word, so we can’t have a system that officially rations something as vital as healthcare or education. Instead, we have unacknowledged, de facto rationing that directs the most resources to those with the best connections, the most money, or the savvy to game the system. What keeps the rest of us content is the illusion that we, too, will be able to game the system someday–as long as the government doesn’t interfere.


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