Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Recently had a conversation with a guy from Great Britain. He couldn’t figure out why Trump voters wouldn’t pay for free college, free medical care, higher minimum wage, longer paid vacations, better social security. Why are we such haters? Tried to explain to him that the math doesn’t work but he didn’t get it. “In my country, if an old woman has no income and can’t work, we consider it an honor to pay for her retirement.” Yes, but that’s giving a moral answer to a mathematics question. It’s a category error.
Consider it this way: what’s 2 + 2? If you answer 4, you give a mathematically correct answer. But is 4 a virtuous moral answer? Does it reflect society’s commitment to diversity and the underprivileged? Maybe 5 would better enhance social justice? Maybe if we were more caring people, our politicians would pass a law making 2 + 2 = 5.
That’s pretty much the way we operate nowadays. The poor pay no taxes. The rich hide their money and pay no taxes. The middle class claims to want to help everybody but that’s just a way to signal their virtue to others (any politician who ran on a platform of promising to double your taxes to support higher welfare spending would be crushed at the polls). Politicians take in 4 but spend 5 to signal their virtue to taxpayers. All those extra 1’s are the reason the national debt is more than $20 trillion. Maybe it’ll never have to be repaid and there will never be any consequences because Americans are just that clever. This is my skeptical face.
It was about 100 years ago that Americans learned that they could get others to pay for their virtues. It’s been downhill ever since.