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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 28, 2011 / 26 Tamuz, 5771

Existential Crisis, Part 2

By Arnold Ahlert




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Most Americans, rightly so, believe we are in the midst of an economic crisis. Yet $14.4 trillion of national debt and record-level deficits are not the so-called "disease" itself. They are symptoms. As I wrote last week, America is in the midst of an existential crisis. It is engendered by the one aspect of our culture which has been in permanent growth mode, irrespective of our economic ups and downs. In short, we have become some of the most self-entitled people on the planet.

Perhaps it was inevitable. For most of mankind's existence, life was, as Thomas Hobbs referred to it, "nasty brutish and short." For centuries, most of peoples' lives were completely consumed finding food to eat, clothes to wear and putting a roof over one's head. Anything resembling excess or luxury was enjoyed by a miniscule percentage of the population, who used every means at their disposal to protect their privilege. If such privilege resulted in the masses living in squalor, on the brink of starvation, so be it.

In 1776, a truly remarkable development occurred. A nation determined to break free of its European overlords created a document which not only determined that "all men are created equal," but one in which the "pursuit of happiness" was codified! Not just for the wealthy, or the aristocracy, but all men. And not just by any government, but one "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." And if that government abused that consent? The people had the right to "alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Thus began the greatest "experiment" in the history of mankind, an entire nation dedicated to the idea that people should pursue their dreams. In the ensuing 235 years, America leaped ahead of every nation on earth. Nations with customs and cultures dating back hundreds or thousands of years, none of which could keep pace with the kind of dynamism and unbridled hopefulness that soon became known as the American Dream. It was an over-arching attitude that carried this nation through several economic downturns, world wars and natural disasters. Even now, despite all of our current problems, we remain the world's economic powerhouse, with a Gross Domestic Product larger than the next two nations, China and Japan, combined.

So what happened? Why have Americans, in ever-greater numbers, either stopped believing in the American Dream or, as a cynical 30 percent believe, it never existed in the first place? As it is contended in the opening paragraph, the answer lies beyond statistical analyses. It lies in the elimination of three words from the contention in the Declaration of Independence that our "Unalienable rights," include "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Eliminate "the pursuit of" and we arrive at the heart of the problem in modern-day America: Too many Americans believe they have an inalienable right to happiness itself.



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In one sense, that is a truly remarkable achievement for any society. The argument has moved beyond disputes about the basic necessities required for life, to those required for a lifestyle. This reality is reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report that claims as many as 1-in-7 Americans could be officially designated as "poor," even as a Heritage Foundation Report has revealed that what constitutes poverty is far removed from what most Americans imagine:

"In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker."

The report concedes that there is "a range of living conditions within the poverty population," and that some people are genuinely homeless and hungry. Yet it also notes that "misunderstanding and exaggeration are commonplace" with respect to defining poverty, and such misinformation has "the potential to promote a substantial misallocation of limited resources for a government that is facing massive future deficits."

Only if those resources are indeed limited. Certainly they are mathematically, but as the American left likes to point out, that is only because the rich aren't paying their "fair share." That the current trajectory of the debt would still be unsustainable if the rich were taxed at 100 percent is of little concern to those suffused with a bottomless sense of "social justice." In the age of entitlement, such justice has only one component: the transfer of wealth, irrespective of any moral examination. In this worldview, the poor are, by definition virtuous, the rich "evil."

Yet once moral examination is removed from the equation, poverty becomes nothing more than the absence of material wealth. It no longer matters if one is able-bodied and irresponsible, or genuinely needy and helpless. Both groups must be cared for in equal proportions. To suggest a distinction between the two is to be "uncaring," "cold-hearted," or, when all else fails, "racist."

Still, if such a sense of entitlement were limited to the lower classes it might be manageable, no matter how distasteful it is to subsidize sloth. But it is not. Middle class Americans have developed quite an appetite of their own for "free" medical care, government-subsidized retirement and a host of other programs that "someone else" should pay for. Currently that someone else is not just the rich, but entire generations of Americans who are very young--or as yet unborn.

Furthermore, middle class America may not have noticed it yet, but tax increases on "millionaires and billionaires" now include people making $200 thousand per year. Anyone who thinks there's no downward pressure on that number is naive. Absent substantial reform, "rich" people making substantially less than that will soon be called upon to shoulder their own "fair share" of our ever-expanding entitlement society.

Is that what America wants? A recent Gallup poll illuminates a rather startling reality: over three-in-ten Americans think there are "too many rich people" in the United States. Compared to what? Not enough poor people? If sanity prevailed, there would be only one logical answer as to how many rich people any society would want. For those unaddled by class-warfare rhetoric, the answer is one hundred percent.

That is the essence of the American Dream. Or at least it was when Lyndon Johnson instituted the Great Society to "end poverty as we know it." Unfortunately as it is with most leftist dogma, the equality of opportunity became entangled with the equality of results. The pursuit of happiness became an entitlement to that happiness, and any discrepancy between the Haves and Have-nots was de facto evidence of an insufficiency in wealth re-distribution. One that could only be mitigated by government.

Yet as it must be noted for the umpteenth time, government does not produce wealth. If it did, we would not be $14 trillion dollars in the hole, nor would Europe be on the brink of its own economic meltdown. And it is truly schizophrenic to demand ever greater contributions from the wealthy, even as 31 percent of Americans polled desire to have less of them.

The existential crisis in which we find ourselves is a direct consequence of economic ignorance coupled with moral confusion. It is a competition between those on the left, who see virtue in getting as many Americans as possible on government programs, and those on the right, who see virtue in getting as many Americans as possible off those same programs.

Which side owns the better argument? That is up to Americans themselves to decide. But they should keep in mind, that mathematics is an exact science. As we argue over the size and scope of our entitlement society it must be done with a full understanding that we are now the largest debtor nation in the history of the planet. Helping the needy is a noble pursuit. Helping the entitled is a fool's errand. It is the difference between being your brother's keeper and being his enabler. Without a far greater national understanding of the difference between those two terms, the pursuit of happiness will once again be as elusive as it was when people lived merely to survive.

All the ostensible nobility in the world notwithstanding, we have run out of other people's money to spend.

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Comment on JWR Contributor Arnold Ahlert's column, by clicking here.



Previously:


07/25/11:
Three-Out-of-Four Americans Are Radicals
07/21/11: What Does Two Plus Two Equal?
07/18/11: News Nuggets
07/13/11: The ‘Write Stuff’
07/11/11: Completely Expectable ‘Unexpectedness’
07/07/11: Organized Cheating
07/05/11: Stimulating Disaster
06/30/11: Progressivism Masquerading as Education
06/27/11: America: Greece With Better PR
06/23/11: NBC-ya Later
06/19/11: One Man's Conversation About Race
06/10/11: An Exhibitionist in an Exhibitionist Age
06/07/11: NAACP Betrays Black American Schoolchildren
06/02/11: For the First Time in My Adult Life . . .
05/31/11: If I Were President
05/25/11: California Dreamin'
05/23/11: On Wisconsin!
05/20/11: Obama's Farewell to Israel Speech
05/16/11: ‘Krauthammering’ Amnesty
05/11/11: Bounce, My Backside
05/09/11: The Epicenter of Progressive Contempt for the Rule of Law
05/03/11: SEALing Osama's Fate
05/02/11: The Education plantation
04/24/11: The Bell May Toll for Jersey Toll Collectors
04/19/11: From Medical Dependency to Dependency on the Welfare State
04/14/11: Trumping the Debate
04/06/11: It Takes a Bigot to Expose a Death Cult
04/04/11: Charlie and Snookie --- and Barack
03/30/11: ‘Disabling’ America, One Lawsuit at a Time
03/28/11: The MSM Kills the ‘Kill Team’ Story
03/23/11: Another Military Scandal
03/21/11: Barry, Joe, Helen and Wisconsin Teachers
03/16/11: The Inevitable Viability of Conservatism
03/14/11: Progressives in Their Own Words
03/09/11: $61 Billion in Cuts --- Vs. $223 Billion in One Month of Spending
03/07/11: Bean Bag B.S.
03/02/11: A ‘Green’ Catastrophe in the Making
02/28/11: Ain't Noting Like the Real Thing
02/23/11: Progressive Rot vs. the ROTC
02/21/11: Wisconsin: Progressivism in All its Ugly Glory
02/18/11: News reporters --- or Narrative Shapers?
02/16/11: The Presidents Budget Proposal: An Obamination of Progressive Profligacy
02/14/11: Only Another 9/11 Will Alter the Illegal Immigration Status Quo
02/10/11: Is O'Reilly losing his touch or is he just irresponsible?
02/07/11: Tossing Britain Under the Bus
02/03/11: Starving the World In Order to Save It
01/31/11: Walking the Middle East Tightrope
01/27/11: Small-scale Terrorist Attacks: Big Strategy?
01/24/11: Jeffery Immelt: A Crony Capitalist In Charge of Job Creation
01/20/11: An ‘Intimate’ Prime-time Interview
01/17/11: Progressives: Always Angry, Newly Desperate
01/12/11: Twain vs. the Totalitarians
01/10/11: Politically Correct Passports?
01/05/11: Showdown at the Fiscal Corral
01/03/11: Reading the Constitution Aloud is a Good Start
12/30/10: Getting Our Moral Mojo Back
12/27/10: PC Airport Safety is an Oxymoron
12/23/10: Getting America Back On Track
12/20/10: A Collectivist Coalition of Convenience
12/15/10: The President Who Wasn't There
12/13/10: Tech-No!
12/08/10: A Lethal Military, Inclusive or Not
12/06/10: The ‘Unexpected’ Consequences of Progressivism
12/01/10: Leakers and Losers
11/29/10: ‘We Won’, Part One
11/22/10: Keep Your Hands Off My Constitution
11/17/10: Grope and Change
11/14/10: Taking Back Our Country, One School At a Time
11/11/10: Checks (and Balances), Please
11/08/10: Curtain Up, Progressives Down
11/04/10: Last Chance, Republicans
11/01/10: By Their Own Words Shall Ye Know Them
10/28/10: Progressive Determination to Undermine American Elections
10/25/10: Shock, but more importantly, action: De-Unionize Public Schools now
10/20/10: Multiculturalism? Check, Please
10/18/10: Healthcare: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vs. The Constitution
10/11/10: Vote for Restoring the Rule of Law in November
10/11/10: Dems: Running From Clarity
10/07/10: Hypersensitive Hogwash
10/04/10: ‘Comprehensive’ Con Artists
09/29/10: Why Dems Are Going Down in November
09/27/10: The Unholiest of Unholy Alliances
09/22/10: Two Words for Republicans to Remember: ‘I Won’
09/20/10: Purging ‘Me First’ Politicians
09/17/10: No More ‘Lesser of Two Evils’
09/15/10: ‘Recovery’ Arms Race
09/13/10: ‘Bigots’ in the Majority --- Again?
09/09/10: Giving Voters Something to Vote For
09/07/10: Irresponsible Dems, Incomprehensible Bills
09/02/10: War Weary Americans vs. Implacable Islamists
08/31/10: A ‘Dream’ Debased
08/25/10: American ‘Bigots’ Versus Media Propagandists
08/23/10: Recovery Bummer
08/19/10: An Unholy Alliance of Radicals
08/16/10: You've Lost America, Mr. President
08/13/10: The Twin Towers of Progressive Disconnect
08/11/10: A Far Better ‘National Discussion’
08/09/10: It's ‘Only’ One Dead Nun
08/06/10: Incremental Tyranny
08/04/10: Ground Zero Mosque: Context Counts
08/02/10: The Arizona Ruling: a Gift for November
07/29/10: The United Cities of America
07/26/10: JournoList: ‘Coordinated’ Ideological Bankruptcy
07/20/10: Go For Broke Or Get Out of the Way
07/14/10: You're a Liberal/Progressive if You Believe…
07/12/10: $33-an-hour--For Sleeping On the Job
07/08/10: Extortionist Government
07/06/10: ‘Commerce Clause’ Totalitarians
07/01/10: Another Public School Travesty in MA
06/30/10: Calling YOUR Bluff, Mr. President
06/28/10: A Trifecta of Progressive Corruption
06/23/10: Plug the Darn Hole --- In Our Border
06/21/10: Our Empty-Suit-in-Chief
06/16/10: Betraying Our Children
06/14/10: Who Gets the Benefit of the Doubt?
06/07/10: Politically Correct Warfare
06/01/10: Bill Maher's ‘Black’ President
05/25/10: A Mosque At Ground Zero
05/23/10: Libs Stand Tall --- For Mexico
05/19/10: The 'Unintended Consequences' of Liberalism
05/17/10: 'Los' Suns: Stuck on Stupido
05/12/10: Union Audacity: Yes We Will!
05/10/10: Greeks, Leaks and and Double-Speak
05/05/10: Twelve Million Illegals --- or Thirty?
05/02/10: Republicans: Playing Not to Lose Doesn't Cut It
04/28/10: Arizona: Progressivism's Waterloo?
04/26/10: Son of Amnesty
04/22/10: Mortgages and Moral Meltdowns
04/20/10: Bashing Christians — Or Gays?
04/15/10: Personal Integri-‘tea’
04/12/10: Fools, Tools and Ghouls
04/08/10: (Tea) Party On
04/05/10: The Triumph of Mediocrity
04/02/10: Two For the Road
03/29/10: The Innate Immorality of Liberalism
03/24/10: The Art of War
03/22/10: I Want My Country Back
03/18/10: A Perpetual Process
03/17/10: American Exhibitionists
03/15/10: A Light Bulb Moment of Clarity
03/10/10: Little Things Mean A Lot
02/03/10: Budgetary Fork in the Road
02/01/10: Liberal Economic Illiteracy
01/27/10: ‘Roe-ing and Wade-ing’ Back to Reason
01/25/10: Arrogance When Up, Denial When Down
01/20/10: Connecting the Educational Dots
01/19/10: The Next Tea Party?
01/15/10: The Myth That Keeps on Giving
01/13/10: Airport Security Begins Away From the Airport
01/11/10: Secrets and Lies
01/08/10: Embracing Bigotry — or Rejecting Bullying?
01/06/10: Hanging by an Ideological Thread
01/04/10: Our ‘Wonderama’ Bureaucracy
12/30/09: A Day Off
12/28/09: Dangerous Myths
12/25/09: I, Me, Mine
12/23/09: A Very Harry Christmas
12/21/09: My Opinon
12/18/09: The Party of Repeal
12/15/09: Privileged Exemption
11/30/09: ‘Settled’ Science and Unsettled Children
11/30/09: American Sharia Law
11/23/09:The Trial (Travesty) of the Century
11/04/09: American Vampires and Their Political Enablers
11/01/09: ‘Opting Out’ of Insanity?
10/28/09: Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer. Brain Required
10/26/09: Communism: Nazism With Better PR
10/21/09: Just Asking
10/16/09: Cost Projections vs. Actual Costs, or Hope and Change vs. Reality
10/14/09: News you can use …
10/07/09: Incremental Insidiousness
10/05/09: MIA: Common Sense and Common Decency
09/30/09: Iran: Bad Options and Unpreparedness
09/21/09: Crying Racism: the Last Refuge of Scoundrels
09/11/09: 9/11 Cannot Be Sanitized
09/08/09: ‘Truthers’ and Consequences
09/01/09: A ‘Paper Trail’ Challenge for the Mainstream Media
08/31/09: Drowning in Amorality
08/26/09: The Republican Recovery Program

© 2011, Arnold Ahlert

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