Terry Paulson
The upcoming election may become less about candidates and more about whether enough voters believe America faces a looming collapse that must be addressed now. Democrats minimize the threat of unfunded entitlements and our growing debt and promise to stay the course to "protect" those who depend on government support. Republicans, pointing to a looming crisis brought on by our unsustainable entitlement culture, the exploding deficit, and an anemic economic recovery, propose an austere budget and program changes that can easily be demagogued as severe and uncaring. One party campaigns on “caring enough to give you what you want" while the other campaigns on "caring enough to confront America’s unsustainable path." As a result, the 2012 election may be the most important choice Americans have faced in decades.

With apologies to Charles Dickens' beloved family classic, A Christmas Carol, what some voters need is a midnight visit by the ghosts of elections past, present and future to break through the denial that so many exhibit.

The Ghost of Elections Past might show voters how Roosevelt's New Deal, designed to combat the Great Depression, actually suppressed economic growth and prolonged the depression and high unemployment. He’d point to President Lyndon Johnson’s "Great Society." Designed to wage war against poverty, Johnson launched costly entitlements that expanded the reach and cost of government—expanded welfare, low-income housing, Head Start, and Medicare. Over the next thirty years, over 5 trillion dollars was spent on the “war on poverty,” but the number of Americans in poverty remained the same. Worse yet, more Americans were now dependent on expensive government programs, and responsible taxpayers were feeling the strain on their pocketbooks.

The ghost could note that when the Social Security Act of 1935 was being debated, it was estimated that Social Security payments would total $4 billion in 1980. In fact, government paid out a staggering $108 billion—off by a massive 2,600%. When Medicare was instituted in 1965, the House Ways and Means analysts predicted it would cost $12 billion in 1990; the actual cost topped $110 billion. They estimated that Medicare Part A would cost $9 billion in 1990—the actual cost $67 billion. Washington entitlements always cost more than projected!


Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

 
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