Here is a little parable which has made it’s way around the email circuit but is worth repeating:
There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class.
One day while the class was in the lab, the professor noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt. The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country’s government and install a new communist regime. In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question.
He asked: “Do you know how to catch wild pigs?”
The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line.
The young man said that it was no joke. “You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming.
“When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again. You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd.
“Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn . They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.”
The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in America . The government keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of “free” programs while we continually lose our freedoms, just a little at a time.
One should always remember two truths: 1) There is no such thing as a free lunch 2) and you can never hire someone to provide a service for you cheaper than you can do it yourself.
The corn consumed to date has put us $13 trillion in debt, nearly equivalent to our GDP. The Treasury Department projects the debt to increase to nearly $20 trillion by 2015, five short years from now. Annual interest on the debt alone was nearly $400 billion in fiscal 2009 and will exceed that in fiscal 2010, even at historically low interest levels, making interest the third largest expenditure in the federal budget, only exceeded by Defense and Health and Human Services. That amounts to $1,300 for every man, woman and child in the US, $2,600 for every US tax filer (nearly half of whom pay no income tax) and $5,000 for every US taxpayer. That’s some mighty expensive corn!
At some point all of this debt is going to need to be repaid, to ourselves and to countries such as China and Japan who own it. In addition, there are over $100 trillion in unfunded entitlement obligations which can no longer be ignored. Based upon the last trustee’s actuarial report, Medicare and Social Security expenditures are projected to exceed tax revenues in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Even President Obama admits our current spending and debt levels are unsustainable, while he and Congress proceed to increase both on nearly a daily basis. Few in Washington have demonstrated any serious fiscal restraint – campaign pledges turn into broken promises and outright lies.
The feeding frenzy needs to stop, with real changes such as:
- A real balanced budget amendment……not everything is a national emergency that requires an exemption
- Term limits……the days of career politicians need to end
- Real campaign finance reform……take the power back from lobbyists and special interest groups
- Entitlement reform……phase these programs out over an extended period, as has been proposed by Paul Ryan and others
- Federal tax reform……institute the Fair Tax or a similar, common sense approach that is simpler, not fraught with loopholes and does not unfairly penalize success
- Lower corporate tax rates……our federal corporate tax rate is only exceeded by Japan’s and is a primary contributor to jobs exiting the US for more business-friendly environments
We can argue into the wee wee hours about whether Republicans or Democrats are to blame for our present financial situation, but the simple reality is that We the Pigs are to blame. Many continue to snarf down the free corn while the fence goes up around them. Some have shunned the free corn to date, but are standing outside the fence drooling and might be tempted with the next delivery. And some are determined to stop the deliveries altogether and put those presently feeding on a diet.
For the PIIGS of Europe (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), their fences are complete and Greece has their gate, with those trapped inside squealing loudly. How much of our fence is complete, and when does our gate arrive? Many would like to think this could never happen in the US. I’m quite sure there are many of these European PIIGS who said the same thing not so long ago.