instant-gratification

We are an interesting society.  We are open to new ideas like no society before us.

That is a good thing.  It means we welcome thoughts and ideas that challenge our daily assumptions.

It is also a bad thing.  It means that we are always challenging convention which leads to a fair amount of chaos.  If we don’t just accept what has gone on in the past as a good or correct thing, we are more willing to dump it for something new.

We also have insatiable desires.  Take for example housing.  Coming out of World War II, any GI returning home was hopeful after a few years back at work in the ‘real’ world, he might afford a small house or duplex.  A standard home then was about 700 to 800 square feet.  It probably had one bathroom and a carport.  Having a car was almost a need in many parts of the country and some families even had two.  Today, people with 2500 square foot homes have their sights set on a home of 4,000 to 5,000 square feet with a garage the size of houses in the 50’s, big enough to keep all four of the family’s cars out of the rain.  When I was in High School in Hawaii, I remember meeting tourists in their late 60’s and early 70’s, who were visiting from Iowa, and who had saved their entire lives for the opportunity to take a one week trip to paradise.  Today, kids on the West Coast think it is their right to have a two week vacation to Hawaii to celebrate graduation from high school.

The fact that we can so easily accept such an inflation of housing, transportation, or recreation “needs” indicates that we are quick to assume that it is our right to have this much.  If our parents had to work for 20 years to save the down payment on a house, we see it as our right to have a house, now.

As a society, we take for granted that we can own houses and cars and take trips without paying our dues.  Not many folks are interested in months or years of hard work to regain their health.  They want a pill to fix their ills….now.

What does all this have to do with anything?  Well, I think our feeling of entitlement, our need for instant gratification, it all makes us very susceptible to all sorts of cons and schemes.  Witness the number of folks who fell for Bernie Madoff’s Scheme.  The desire for ‘more’ blinded them to the incongruity of investment returns at four times what the market was producing for most investors.

Today, I contend that our politicians are using our propensity toward instant gratification to gain power from and over us.  Adults in Detroit who were interviewed  actually believed that Mr. Obama was going to give them money and better houses, etc.  Now we have a Congress trying to convince us that we can tax and spend ourselves to prosperity, and, large numbers are buying it.

We are being exploited by politicians who want power and who know that we want solutions, at no cost to us, and now.  Want the economy revived?  Just have government make lots of transfer payments that put money in our pockets, no worry that someone else is being taxed to provide that money.  Want to pay less for health care?  Let our government provide it for free.  It doesn’t matter that our grandchildren will pay for it.  We deserve it.  Not comfortable seeing homeless people or indigents waiting at an Emergency Room to be seen for flu symptoms?  No problem.  Our government can end homelessness and provide healthcare to all.  We will vote for this as long as the ‘other guy’ has to pay.

How long will it take until we learn the truth in Gerald For’s famous quote, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”

or

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.” (attributed to A. F. Tytler)

Do we really need to spend $1 Trillion over the next 10 years to “fix” our country’s health care system?  Do we really need to have our Congress pass laws to do this tomorrow?

P. J. O’Rourke said it right when he suggested that ““Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

Advertisements