Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged has been getting an intense amount of play over the past year. For those who are not familiar with the book, the WSJ’s Stephen Moore does a good job in giving an overview of Rand’s writing:
"… the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism."
The 30-thousand-foot overview behind the selected title of this book revolves around the mythological figure Atlas, who held up the burden of the whole world on his shoulders, and what happens if all the hardworking people who contribute all the tax dollars that make everything run and provide for so many non-contributors decide to "shrug" one day and not do it anymore, or by the growing tax burden of the government eventually fail in their responsibility.
All Americans should take note of what is now happening in California. The social programs and government spending have exploded so much in the past decade -couple with the state taking in less tax revenue due to the downturn in the economy - that it has left a $24 billion dollar short fall.
As a result, on May 18th, Governor Schwarzenegger had Californians go to the polls to see if they can be tapped a little more on the tax side to compensate for the state’s fiscal irresponsibility. The Times Union reports:
"Just weeks ago, California voted down by an almost 2-to-1 margin their political leaders' grand compromise to stop the state's fiscal hemorrhaging. The compromise comprised six ballot initiatives. Of these, five lost with at least 63 percent voter rejection. The only one that did pass -- with 74 percent support -- was one prohibiting state lawmakers from raising their salaries if the state budget was not balanced."
Atlas shrugged, government's taxation of "We the people" had hit the bottom of the tank. Taxpayers sent a clear message to Sacramento that it was time to address the issue of their uncontrolled spending -- they would not give one more dime in taxes. The awful reality of the non-sustainable fiscal course that California chose to take will now result in their day of reckoning and have dire repercussions, hit harshly, and sadly target many of those most in need, as the Mercury news reports :
"Schwarzenegger has proposed dropping 500,000 families from the welfare rolls and wiping out Healthy Families, a program that subsidizes health insurance for children of people who work but are still poor. One million poor children would lose their health insurance in that little sleight of hand."
Alan Keyes many years back stated that if Americans knew the enormous amount of taxes they contributed to our government would go to those in most need, they would be OK with the tax burden because America has a very good heart at the end of the day. I totally agree with him.
California's day of reckoning is a direct result of the abuse of greedy government spending, political payoffs and non-deserving individuals and organizations who all milked the system. Heartbreakingly, those is desperate need of society's care will be clumped in with welfare-light cases as the California's buzz saw comes.
Pat Buchanan has a very sobering column showing the striking similarities between the course that California has been on for the past decade, and where the country of America right now is heading. Reading this column was an extreme downer, but doe not make it any less noteworthy.
Social programs now are over 60% of the U.S. budget, so these cuts will be inevitable as the interest on our trillion dollar debt grows to a higher percentage of our budget and the government needs to compensate from somewhere.
While America's day of reckoning is not here yet, it is without a question coming. We would be wise to review and revamp these programs now, carefully taking the time and diligence to protect those in real need. Maybe we should come up with a numeric rating system, putting those severely handicap at the top priority of the list, and able-body people who have been on welfare for more than a year at the bottom. This is a far more compassionate and moral solution then to arrive at the point where we have to throw hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people off these programs indiscriminately, on a moment's notice, five years from now. This is where we are sadly heading.