Entitlements

The Permanent Dependency Class

The recent US presidential election found the Republican Party on the losing end of a political and economic argument. It was Mitt Romney’s contention, both privately and implicitly when he selected Ayn Rand enthusiast Paul Ryan as his running mate, that 47% of the electorate was dependent on government handouts and therefore had no intention of voting for any Republican who threatened to reduce government entitlement spending. Mitt Romney after the election “doubled down” on this statement, insisting that Obama voters were bought off by government largesse.

Romney was defeated handily in the public vote – he achieved, ironically, slightly less than 47.5% of the popular vote – and he was thrashed in the Electoral College vote, which is what really matters. These results are being interpreted by the press and the pundits as a repudiation of Republican policies, and a rebuke to Mitt Romney for his perceived insult to Obama voters that they are lazy and, like parasites, live off the hard work of others.

The problem with this view is that Romney was half-right: there is a dependency class in America, and they do tend to vote Democratic. He was wrong on his interpretation of the motives and work ethic of this dependency class. One man’s handout, after all, can be another man’s means of survival. He was also wrong on his campaign promise to fix this situation by creating millions of jobs so that the moochers and parasites will have no excuse but to find work when the entitlement payouts end. Obama was wrong on this as well; no politician can pretend that they have some magic tool to create millions of jobs and return entitlement payouts to more sustainable levels. Not only is this not possible, but as I will contend here, such thinking makes the problem worse. The dependency class in America is growing, and it is here to stay for many decades into the future. It is a consequence of decades of government and business policies that let such an infra-class arise, and it is a consequence of very long term economic and social forces that operate on a global basis and are beyond the control of any one country. The United States is turning into a third world country, complete with vast pockets of poverty and idleness, and a small elite that dominates wealth and income. A dependency class is a prime feature of third world countries, and the political party which most successfully caters to this dependency class is more than likely to enjoy decades of political power.