For my entire adult life, I have voted as a fiscal conservative. I viscerally believed that the government that governs least, governs best. Consequently, through the last few election cycles, my voting decisions have been based almost entirely on which party and candidates were most likely to support debt reduction and entitlement reform. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I voted for Romney/Ryan this past Tuesday.
Obviously, Tuesday's election didn't go the way that I had hoped. Elections are like that sometimes. So be it; the people have spoken, etc., etc., etc. Entitlement reform, while a huge deciding issue for me, was apparently not so for the majority of the American electorate. Millions of voters showed up to vote for a party and a candidate that have consistently acted to expand entitlement programs over the past few years. Other millions of voters stayed home because Mitt Romney was a) not socially conservative enough, b) not promising them enough free stuff, c) a really rich guy, or d) a Mormon and, by staying home, gave tacit approval to entitlement expansion.
Thinking on the results of the election, I had an epiphany: I've been wrong. Totally wrong. Utterly and completely wrong. The American electorate does not want entitlement reform; in fact they consistently and relentlessly vote against it and elect representatives who lack the will or inclination to enact reform. I live in a society that has institutionalized entitlements and, through all these years, I've been tilting at windmills by basing my votes on entitlement reform. It's time to step back and, finally, accept the will and apparent wisdom of the people. Actually, I am going to do more than accept it. I am going to embrace it like William Hurt embraced Kathleen Turner in Body Heat...which is a rather disturbing analogy now that I think about it. Sorry...
In point of fact, supporting entitlement reform is no longer in my best interests. I'm 58. In four years, I will be eligible for Social Security, at which point, every month the U.S. taxpayers will send me a check that is roughly half of what I have been contributing every year since I started working. Every month until I go down for my dirt nap, I will get a check, for doing nothing. Since the wrath family DNA clock seems to max out at 90 or so, that's potentially a lot of scratch. But taxpayer largess does not end there. There's Medicare. There's my lifetime pass into national parks and monuments. There's the $1.25 taxpayer subsidized lunch I can get at the Henderson Senior Citizen Center. Of course, the menu there is going to need some help. I'd like to see an artisanal cheese plate with fresh fruit, a baguette, and a glass of Columbia Valley merlot or a brie, bacon, and tomato sandwich on lightly toasted six-grain bread with a pint of a nice hoppy IPA served up on a daily basis. No matter, once my fellow seniors and I organize a few "Henderson feeds their senior citizens dog food" protests, I'm sure the city fathers will come around...it's not like its their money after all. They'll just get more from the taxpayers. Also, there must be a free Obamaphone program for seniors. If not, I'll join AARP - they've been bugging me to join for, like, eight years now - and get them to make that happen. Oh...and that comes with unlimited data, right? I gotta be able to use my tablet when I'm having my subsidized lunch down at the Senior Center, don'tcha know?
Food stamps! Oh, hell...I almost forgot about food stamps. I'm going to freaking wear out the magnetic strip on my EBT card....and I'm not talking frozen pizzas here. Look for my column in Bon Appettit, "The EBT Gourmet".
Oh...and all the young people who turned out of support a second term for our President? You might want to think about a second job. Actually, you'll probably need a third one, too, since part-time jobs are going to become the rule when Obamacare kicks in. Can you do that for me? Yeah, um, thanks...I'll buy you a (subsidized) lunch sometime.
...and then there's my mortgage. I've been making mortgage payments for thirty years; never missed a payment, never even paid one late. In another age, this statement would have been a point of pride, but now it's a confession of just being plain stupid. Mortgage payments are optional these days. I'll leave it to the administration and their pals in the mega-banks to conjure up whatever fiscal fantasy they need to keep this senior citizen on a fixed income from being foreclosed. In the meantime, my current mortgage payment will pretty handily cover the lease and insurance on an Audi R8. Sweet. Thank you, Mr. President.
Yes, intellectually, I still understand that this entire system is unsustainable and becomes increasingly unsustainable as fewer people are working and more are opting for living off government largesse. At some point, to quote Jim Morrison, "...the whole shit house goes up in flames." I just figure that I might as well live in a nice shit house - that I don't pay for - before someone throws in the match.