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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Land of Opportunity or Land of Entitlement?

For centuries America has attracted immigrants as "The Land of Opportunity", not because we had a giant government bureaucracy overseeing every aspect of daily life, but because good jobs and social mobility were available.

These two factors combined together represented the American ideal of a place without limitations where anyone could become anything they wanted to be. Unfortunately America has been slowly changing from a Land of Opportunity to a Land of Entitlement, overseen by a monolithic bureaucracy and subsidized by workers.

That is why the constant cry of "Soak the Rich" that we've been hearing lately is so obnoxious. It isn't Robin Hood and the Merry Men raiding the Sheriff of Nottingham loot in Washington D.C. on behalf of the oppressed and the downtrodden. It's the Sheriff of Nottingham, a massive government bureaucracy looking for new sources of revenue to gorge itself on.

The free market has its flaws, and plenty of them. On the other hand building up a massive bureaucracy that consumes most of what the free market creates has one huge gaping flaw. The same one that affixing a giant blood sucking leech to your leg does, while wondering why you can't get any blood pumping to your head anymore.

The reason why so many saw America as a "Land of Opportunity" is because it placed no limits on how high they could go. You might start out working on the factory floor, only to own your own factory in a few years. The peddler could go on to open his own store, and then his own chain of stores. That used to be the American story, and a not uncommon one either. It become much less common, because as taxes have increased to subsidize a growing government bureaucracy that regulates everything, social mobility has also become that much more difficult.

Soaking the Rich places a glass ceiling over the Land of Opportunity, turning it into the Land of Entitlement. It marks an end to ambition based on hard work and accomplishment.

Everyone who hails Barack Obama's success story has been missing the real point. He's the son of a diplomat who became a legislator. Most of Obama's working life, he has either been drawing a government salary, or a salary contributed to by government funding. There's no particular achievement in lining your pockets with taxpayer money. There is one in actually working hard, earning a living, and building something of your own that didn't come from government money.

That's the difference between a Land of Opportunity and a Land of Entitlement. And Obama's story is a particularly poor example, because he represents the Entitlement side of the coin.

The Land of Opportunity side allows people to make their own destiny. The Land of Entitlement side gives them a small salad bar of options for using government bureaucracy to find a place of their own, from distributing the dole, to being on the dole, to delivering the dole, to passing new dole funding regulations. That's the gist of it.

The free market empowers people to make choice. Government bureaucracies disempower people. Social mobility in the Land of Entitlement is not defined by hard work, but by the chameleon-like ability to blend into the bureaucracy and exploit it for your benefit. Obama is a paragon of that virtue, but no other. When Obama insured that his wife got a six figure raise, backed by taxpayer money, he was demonstrating how the game was played in the Land of Entitlement. And he was also demonstrating why the Land of Entitlement is such a dead end. A sucker's game played by liars and con artists with someone else's chips.

What once drew immigrants to the Land of Opportunity was the vision of its boundless frontiers, an open land where anything was possible. Today that land has become replaced by rigid high walls, by the concrete rules and regulations of government authority, rising ever higher and tunneling deeper and deeper. The Land of Opportunity represented freedom. The Land of Entitlement represents a permanent desk job for the bureaucrat, a permanent waiting list and a wallet sinkhole for everyone else.

The economy can't be fixed by "soaking the rich" and siphoning the proceeds into more government spending. The rich are the top half of an economic pyramid that actually produces money and passes it along to the rest of the system, and gives everyone who's actually interested in earning a living something to shoot for. The more you soak the rich, the less money there is for everyone. And for all their faults, the rich actually put more money into the economy, than your average politician does.

The economy can be fixed by adding a new clause right besides the Separation of Church and State. The Separation of Business and State.


  1. I couldn't agree more.

    I think for most immigrants and their children the American dream was quite personal.

    For some the sky was the limit. For others, such as my parents, the American dream was more modest--owning a home and paying off the mortgage (celebrating with a mortgage burning party), a car, a steady job with health insurance.

    But the American dream has always been about hard work, not the lottery, a big win on a game show or lucking into a government job.

    Or government handout/bail out.

  2. You hit the nail on the head!EXACTLY!

  3. Anonymous23/2/09

    The mid-term and next presidential races must have as a theme the end of entitlements. the debt burden that is being created is unsustainable and along with entitlements private enterprise is crowded out of the necessary funds to grow the economy.

  4. Anonymous24/2/09

    Good Grief, Sultan! I have read but two of your posts, and am nearly in awe. While I don't have a tingle in my leg ala Chris Matthews, I am truly impressed by your ability to put things as they are, and as readable as I am finding them. You are "double dog" bookmarked at my place now. And- I am sending you a horde of other readers as well; er, perhaps just a few.
    Good stuff,
    nuf sed

  5. Thank you, I'm always glad to have a new reader. I just try to get to the root of the problem and lay it out there for people.

  6. Tell Washington, D.C. to quit the spending and be fiscally responsible:

    Please let your voice & opinions be heard and join the following Tea Party websites to become part of the movement in taking our country back from liberal/progressive left wing loons who are destroying capitalism and the Free Market System that has built this great country:
















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