Remember the infamous 2009 Newsweek cover story claiming we are all socialists, while trumpeting the massive “stimulus” bill and unashamedly ballyhooing the “era of big government”?
It was an internally inconsistent argument to begin with. On the one hand, the article warns of the consequences: “If we fail to acknowledge the reality of the growing role of government in the economy.” In other words, accept socialism and quit trying to demonize it. But later in the article, it says the Obama administration “must borrow and spend to fix a crisis created by too much borrowing and spending (emphasis added).”
Well, which is it? Is the era of big government and socialism a good thing? Or did “too much borrowing and spending” create the crisis?
A former Newsweek luminary now admits it’s the latter: Evan Thomas, grandson of six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America Norman Thomas, now has to admit the social welfare state isn’t working.
“It’s Western democracy,” Thomas said recently on the show Inside Washington. “The welfare state is something we can’t pay for any more. It’s demographics. We used to have five workers for every retired person. Now we have three. We’re soon gonna have two. Europe is even ahead of us on these demographics. We cannot afford the benefits we all got accustomed to. And the political system has not figured out how to adjust to that.”
He comes a little late to the party, but welcome him in!
All the experts we’ve talked to, from every point on the ideological spectrum, say the same thing: The numbers just won’t work anymore.
As if to make Thomas’ point, Social Security trustees said April 23 that the program will be depleted by 2033, three years earlier than expected. Medicare is set to exhaust its funds in 2024.
Social Security is a victim of many things, but most recently a reduction in revenues because of the poor economy and the aging population – which already is seeing baby boomers, the largest demographic cohort in history, retire. Nor does it help that our weak-willed leaders in Washington have tried to make themselves look better and us feel better by cutting the amount we send to Social Security. We’re saving now by shorting our future.
We see in Europe what eventually happens when populations get used to benefits and lifestyles their governments have promised but can’t sustain.
One supposes we will soon find out if Newsweek was right – and whether the socialist’s slope is our destiny as well.