Jubal Harshaw, a character in “To Sail Beyond the Sunset” by Robert A. Heinlein, said:
“A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizens will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’
‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader – the barbarians enter Rome.”
I fear that this is what we are seeing in our current political discourse, and it’s been going on ever since FDR. A sign of this is that it is now political suicide for a politician to point out the obvious – that we simply cannot afford Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or ObamaCare, or welfare of other sorts. Even the conservatives that would like to stop the bleeding are afraid to state this truth baldly.
So the politician sees it as a choice of being out of work, or lying to the public by claiming it will all work out. So they lie and kick the can down the road, hoping it doesn’t all collapse while on their watch. Because, with only one or two possible exceptions, politicians aren’t in it for our benefit; they’re in it for their benefit.
It is not too late to turn it around – I think. But if Obama wins reelection in 2012, we’re in deep trouble.