“Once upon a time there was a small rural community whose only source of water was a community well in the center of town. One day the well became contaminated such that anyone who drank the water became dysfunctional. At first, the few people who drank the water were in the minority. Eventually, as thirst drove more people to drink from the well, the minority became the one remaining normal soul who had not yet drank from the well. But soon thirst forced him to drink - and the town’s conversion to a dysfunctional norm was complete.”
The prior story is a simple example of how cultural norms can change. Such changes can be extreme - as when dysfunctional behavior becomes the accepted norm. A government’s predominant mechanism for such cultural change is often small, seemingly-innocuous steps that tend to reward a portion of the electorate. When allowed, these incremental changes form the entitlement trap illustrated in Uncle Sam’s Coconut Trap (click here for the article).
For some time, America has been changing from a land of opportunity to a land of guarantees. This has been brought about by career politicians pandering to their constituents with legislative pork and entitlements. Such panderings start out as small, innocuous rewards but, when left unchecked, evolve into a dependency of a majority of the electorate on the government. When their work has come to fruition, these politicians have formed an Entitlement Union voting block of dependent electorate which will vote as directed in order to keep their entitlements.
Alexander Fraser Tytler believed that this change is inevitable. Tytler was a European historian who after years of study wrote The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic. If you believe Tytler’s Democratic Cycle, the United States of America is now in Dependency, transitioning to a Dictatorship (for more on the cycle, go here).
Our increasing dependency became evident when the results of the 2012 General Election confirmed that an entitlement mentality motivates the majority of voters in the United States of America. How do we know this? We know because the electorate was adequately forewarned about the consequences of unbridled entitlement spending, the looming debt crisis, high unemployment, and the increased tax burden, and yet they still chose to join the government’s Entitlement Union and vote the President back into office with a mandate that he ensure they continue to receive largesse from the public treasury. More importantly, the signs of a looming Oligarchy Dictatorship are also visible if we look for them—a gridlocked and impotent Congress, the inability to vote out the “congressional largess suppliers,” and an unbridled President who has agreed to sign unconstitutional UN treaties and has issued numerous secret and questionable executive orders (see An Oligarchy Rising).
The future is uncertain. One clear scenario is economic collapse—the entitlements will end, the riots will begin, and the government will decree martial law. The timeframe for which this will unfold is debatable – but if we do not turn from our current path, I do not see how it is avoidable in the long term. When this occurs, only the second option in Lincoln’s 1st inaugural Address will apply (March 4, 1861): "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it."
And then the Democratic Cycle will begin again.
Jack T. Beavers is an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Consultant with a BS in Chemical Engineering (BSChE), a Professional Engineering (PE) license, a Certification in Business Management (CBM), and a Certification as an Internal Control Specialist (CICS). He has previously held a Certification as an ISO-9000 Internal Auditor – and his work history includes Enterprise Risk Assessment responsibilities as a Manager of Internal Audit. Please email your comments to email@example.com.
The CJS Forum seeks to promote an open exchange of ideas about the relationship between faith, culture, law and public policy. While all the articles are original and written especially for the CJS Forum, they do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for a Just Society.