And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
-John F Kennedy, Inaugural Address 1961
The political parties of today are unrecognizable from the lens of 1961. America has embraced the politics of “me.” Take what you want, even if it means legal theft from others. Go to the voting booth and remove the wealth from others. Take what you “deserve” because the government will “give” it to you. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go back to 1961
The Politics of “Me First”
Fresh off the heels of WWII and the Korean War, Americans were patriotic, hard-working, and with so many technological breakthroughs, looking forward to the future. Never before has a single generation seen such a dramatic shift in society. Less than 60 years ago the first airplane took flight. Almost every household had a vehicle and traveling across the continent took only a few hours instead of days or weeks.
With few exceptions America up to this point was a nation where anything was possible as long as you worked hard. You could risk it all and achieve massive success, or be reduced to utter ruin depending on how it all unfolded. During the 20th Century federal tax rates were generally low during non-war periods. The new deal/great depression era saw a massive jump from 25% to 80% in the highest tax brackets.
1961 was no different. It was right on the precipice of a major reduction in taxes. When Kennedy took office the top federal tax rate was 90%. In general tax rates increase during times of war and during times of increased entitlement programs.
Context of speech
Delivered by a Democrat in 1961, Kennedy’s inaugural address had themes of the magnificent changes seen recently (H-Bomb, world wars) and the renewed requests for peace (mainly with the USSR) as well as quoting the Bible and asking for God’s help (rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation). If you have not read the entire speech, I highly recommend that you read it here.
Kennedy’s speech was meant to be unifying to the nation, extending an olive branch to potential aggressors and demonstrating strength and resolve. But of particular significance to me was the idea of not asking what the individual can get from his government. He was against a nanny state, but more on that later.
Major Entitlement Programs of the 20th Century
New Deal – 1930’s
- Social Security
- Housing Act
- Tax policy (higher taxes)
Medicare/Medicaid – 1965
The Move From “Us” to “Me”
So what is bad about social security? Housing for the poor? Taxes on rich people? I certainly couldn’t have anything against health care for the elderly and the poor right? Honestly, an article could be written answering each of those questions. The real poison with major entitlement programs is not typically the initial intent. Instead, the fault lies with its expansion over time. For example, due to population growth and loosening eligibility requirements, almost 75 million people are enrolled in Medicare/Medicaid as of 2018. That is 23% of all Americans. Enrollment was 34 million just 19 years ago. That’s more than double the enrollment in less than a generation.
As Americans, we are less self-reliant than ever. And with the younger generations embracing bigger and bigger government, that downward trend will continue.
Why Do Politicians Push Entitlement Programs?
The stated goal of many entitlement programs is to help those who are less fortunate. Give people a helping hand. Boost them up so they can be productive members of society. The whole “teach a man to fish.”
Entitlement programs are designed to grow power base by politicians. They see people voting based on what the government gives them. It really isn’t much different than high school president elections, “If you vote for me I’ll make summer break longer!” The problem is since we are in a representative democracy, ie. we vote for people who vote on our behalf, summer break is actually getting longer. Less work is happening as well.
The dirty little secret is that entitlements serve the politicians by making the constituents subservient. Since the voters receive direct benefits, it is virtually impossible to have them vote against their self-interests.
Why vote for the guy who will cut “their” benefits check in half? I’d much rather vote for the guy who will double my benefits!
The Unpopular Truth
This isn’t popular to say, but hard work, responsibility and good choices dictate a good life. Sure outliers exist, which is why social programs should exist for the truly destitute. I’m sorry, if you own an iPhone, you don’t need food stamps. You should be using that money you are spending on Fortnite for actual food. The genuine needy should be given a helping hand which includes a path to self-sufficiency. This is the only way to maintain a healthy society.
Social programs create dependency and keep people oppressed.
Let’s try a quick scenario. If you earned $2,500 a month via your job and by no fault of your own you were let go what would you do? Would you then file for unemployment? Let’s say you did, and living in California you would receive a little over $1,900/month in unemployment benefits. This is MORE than you take home from working 40 hours a week!! While working and earning $2,500/month you actually bring home just under $1,600.
So getting fired was a smart financial move!
Now answer this for me, how hard are you going to look for a new job? Or are you going to milk that gravy train as long as you can? It’s almost a no brainer. And this does not count the automatic acceptance into many other social programs where you can get free food, free money for housing, etc. Unknowingly we’ve trapped another person into the dependency cycle.
“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”― G. Michael Hopf, Those Who Remain
Capitalism vs. Socialism
Millennials don’t know shit
- a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
- an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
As you can see Socialism and Capitalism are at opposite ends of the spectrum. One of my favorite examples over the past 100 years is the Korean Peninsula. After the Korean War, there is a distinct difference between the success of North Korea (Socialist) vs South Korea (Capitalist) as measured by GDP. I don’t think I need to begin to discuss personal freedom…
Capitalism has been the biggest influence in raising the quality of life, length of life, and wealth to all peoples of the world than any other economic theory.
What Can You Do In Your Own Life?
The single biggest factor is learning early that choices have consequences, both good and bad. You study hard, you earn a good grade. You steal, you get punished. When this system breaks down or becomes inconsistent people think “it won’t happen to me”. They learn the system doesn’t apply to them.
Some great advice:
“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”-Murphy
Measure twice, cut once.-Proverb
It’s better to plan for the bad things that might happen than be unprepared when they do. As a Superior Man, you must be prepared when SHTF. If you absolutely must take some sort of aid, whether it be from a charity, religious group or the government, make sure to not take any more than you absolutely need and only for as long as you absolutely need it. In the cases of a charity or religious group you should do your best to repay them in whatever manner you are able to.