26 January 2009

America's real entitlement problem

The (not very) eminent bad comedian and worse columnist Ben Stein has penned a column that seems to ask us to feel sorry for those who shouldn't have any expectation that anyone should feel sorry for them; especially in a nation that prides itself on "hard work" and "self reliance" (whatever meaning either of them have in modern America). Whilst he eventually extols the virtues of "saving" he seems to miss the basic problem entirely, especially in the case of his first example.

His first sob story relates to a woman that he "has known since she was a teenager" without noting how long that may have been. Her terrible story is that she is living in a "house", and I use the word reservedly, on which she has a 2,200,000 USD interest only mortgage with payments of about 12,000 USD a month. She is scrapping by on 20,000 USD graciously provided by her ex-husband (10K in the form of child support and 10K in alimony). Fortunately she seems to have a sugar daddy of some sort who helps out by picking up the credit card bills and other incidentals that her additional 8,000 a month doesn't seem to cover. She has a bit of a shop that Mr. Stein seems to describe as a hobby rather than an enterprise. Suddenly because the value of her "house" is falling and her alimony is running out she is suddenly worried about money. I don't know how long she has been sucking at the entitlement teat but she has clearly, for reasons not entirely clear, been living well beyond her means.

There are currently, and there will be many more, tragic victims of the economic crisis in America and across the world. This woman is clearly not one of them. I don't mean to sound hard and unfeeling but is there any other option in this case?

Mr. Stein's other worry seems to be case of his handsome, if irresponsible, son who seems to have gone and got himself married even though his only means of support seems to be his father.

I haven't even crocodile tears for these Americans who seem to feel that not only does America owe them a living (without working or working very hard) but it owes them a living and a lifestyle that very, very few of the planet's 6,000,000,000 human being can even dream of.

Come the revolution!

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