Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Obama Coalition and the Entitlement Generation

The picture I posted earlier points to the mass hysteria associated with Obama. However, he would not be leading without the support of other swaths of the population. For starters, there are the far left wing-nuts. These are characterized by an acute case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Then there are the cynical political partisans. These make their home either in the halls of congress or on your television set. There are those who are disgusted with the rampant abuses brought to light by the economic meltdown and who looking to punish the party in power are not examining the alternative economic vision.

The segment of his supporters I'd like to highlight, however, are people who should know better. These are those who reside in the 40 something to 200 thousand dollar income range. The middle classes. What gives? A better question would be "Who gives?" In this case, the answer is Obama. He has answered the time honored question "What's in it for me?" by hitting upon the notion of pandering to the middle class. Anyone in this income range in the United States is blessed by global standards. No, in the lower reaches, such an income will not afford you a home in a gated community or a gas-guzzling SUV. It will allow you to live a decent and comfortable life, if you live according to your means.

I suspect my readers thought the entitlement up top referred to government programs targeted at the lower classes. No, entitlement here is a larger concept. It refers to a whole generation (baby boomers, anyone?) brought up in relative affluence, an affluence created by their parents who worked for it and lived within their means. It bred in them a sense of entitlement, a sense they passed on to their children. They do not start with the finite figure in determining their lifestyle. No, they start with the living standard to which they are accustomed and then worry about affording it. If doing the latter involves plastic, so be it. That's how you wind up with TV reports of the family lamenting its lack of health insurance over coffee in the half million dollar home with the two late model cars in the driveway. Take a look at countertops, appliances sold to the masses at Home Depot. Do you really need a thousand dollar stove? A countertop that costs as much as a used car?

What is terribly unhealthy here is that they want something for nothing, even if it is at the expense of someone else. And that is exactly what this economic plan is. Where is the concept of fairness? You worked harder, so you can help support me. And taxing corporations more? They can take their marbles and go elsewhere. If they can't, they'll just pass along the cost to rich and poor alike.

The worst part of this phenomenon is that in accepting the placebo of a failed economic philosophy, we are not addressing our true problems. While you worry about the cost of gas for your Escalade, 50 percent of households have an income of 31 thousand a year or less. CEOs make untold millions. No man is worth 100 million dollars. Our schools are failing those who most need the leg up economically. Teachers and administrators are afraid to discipline children because the lawsuit is always waiting in the wings. Children are trapped in failed public schools because the powerful teachers' unions fight vouchers tooth and nail. Politicians pander to them extolling the virtues of public education, all the while sending their own children to private schools. Educational reform is put in the hands of the likes of Bill Ayers. Need more?

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