Remember six months ago when the Mega Millions topped $640 million? With one of the largest jackpots in history at stake, millions of people purchased their lottery tickets in the hopes of winning. We might have guessed that President Obama, given a federal debt responsibility of over $16 trillion as of today, might have bought a few tickets, too. Then again, had he won, his winning lottery ticket would have funded the government's operations for just under an hour and a half. You'd spend more time watching Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis battle it out at the movies. Our federal government is spending far, far too much money, and we need major reform in both our policies and philosophies in order to avoid a financial meltdown.
Policy reforms are the easy part, believe it or not. Our population is aging. This puts increased pressure on the structure of Social Security, making it unsustainable as it works now. Current workers pay for current retiree benefits, so essentially it's a program of robbing Peter to pay Paul. In 1940, 159 workers paid for the benefits of one retiree. Today, that ratio is less than three workers paying for each retiree. People are also living longer, almost 10 years longer since 1960. These pressures of an aging population can also be felt in Medicare and Medicaid, the other two programs of the triumvirate of federal entitlement programs. A large majority of Americans, particularly current and upcoming seniors, also recognize the importance of these reforms.
No, our major problems is in the philosophy that provides the foundation of our entitlement programs. Although we continue to champion the rugged individualism that made this country and Goliath of economic and social change, the truth remains that there are far too many apologists for the state's involvement in guaranteeing livelihoods. In 2008, we saw the video response of Obama to Joe the Plumber and his comments that we can "share the wealth," and earlier this year his wife joined in on the chorus. PolicyMic itself has a number of apologists for that very same philosophy. This isn't restricted to Democrats, though, as Newt Gingrich made it part of his campaign rhetoric to criticize Romney's "vulture capitalism." Famously, Richard Nixon supposedly claimed that "We're all Keynesians now."
The philosophy persists, and it needs to change. As the Democratic National Convention starts this week, I hold little hope that the left side of the aisle will in any way grasp that notion. Obama's personal philosophy, even if moderated by political expediency, leans dangerously towards collectivism. When given a choice, he places more importance on the greatest good for the greatest number, which is an immoral preface for government-sponsored theft. His speech in Roanoke demonstrates this fundamental belief. He simply fails to understand that without the work of individuals — entrepreneurs, thinkers, industrialists, innovators — there would never be any wealth to build the roads he spoke of.
Worse, it reflects a belief that government officials know how to ensure human interactions work for everyone better than the people themselves. Don't let a collectivist tell you that someone who values the individual above all else ignores society and social interactions. On the contrary, we celebrate them. We celebrate them because the family, friends, and colleagues we have in our life choose to be a part of it, as we choose to be a part of theirs.
I doubt Obama will ever appreciate this. Even if Republicans are not quite there yet, at least their convention made the effort to philosophically move in that direction. That, above all else, is a positive step. I know Obama's capable, too, but I just don't believe he's ever willing. For that matter, neither are the thousands of others gathering in Charlotte this week. If they were, they'd likely have a bit more to contribute to the federal government than apologies for a burgeoning debt and ballooning entitlements. Let's see how those Greek columns look this time around.