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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The End of Western Democracy?

Today in his posting, Pat Buchanan, makes a very salient point about the debt the United States and other western countries have accumulated through the social programs that have come to the norm. Will this debt crisis cause the end of Western Democracy as we have known it for the past sixty years? I believe so.
America, Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Great Britain are all deeply in debt mostly from the social programs that CANNOT be reduced for fear of civil disobedience (also known as riots) and political reality. Who would vote for a person or party who reduced your social security, medicare, medicaid, or welfare by 50%? No one.
Once these egregious programs get started, they assume a life of their own and no reasonable person can control them. The only way is for society as a whole to disintegrate into chaos. That my friends is where we are heading.

Here is Pat' posting:


The End of La Dolce Vita
by Pat Buchanan

Are Europe and America headed to where Athens is today?

To answer the question, consider what brought Greece to
where she is -- running a deficit of 14 percent of gross
domestic product with a debt approaching 100 percent, with
Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Great Britain not that far

How did this happen?

Protected by the United States through a half-century of
Cold War, Europe cut back on defense and ratcheted up
spending for La Dolce Vita.

All of Europe adopted universal health care. All voted in
a shorter workweek, a higher minimum wage, greater job
security, earlier retirements and munificent pensions.

As the cradle-to-grave welfare states rose, an ever-
increasing share of the labor force left the private
sector for the security of the public sector.

Tax-consumers, the beneficiaries of the welfare states and
the bureaucrats that ran them, grew in number, as taxpayers
declined as a share of the labor force. Though Greece was
far from the most productive nation in Europe, Athens led
the parade.

After the baby boom ended, the pill arrival in the 1960s.
Then came abortion on demand in the 1970s.

The fertility rate of Greece and every European nation
fell below the 2.1 births per woman needed to replace an
existing population. Greece's birth rate has been below
zero population growth for three decades.

Result: In Year 2000, Greece had just under 11 million
people and a median age of 38. In 2050, Greece is project-
ed to have just under 11 million people, but the median
age will be 50.

Were Greece a company, the solution would be bankruptcy.

But Greece is a country. And a bailout of $141 billion is
being put together by the European Union and International
Monetary Fund.

Why? Because, should Greece decide not to take a chain saw
to her welfare state, but walk away from her debts and
default, she would blow a hole in the balance sheets of
the biggest banks in Europe.

Then the banks would have to be bailed out.

Seeing Greece's bondholders being burned, terrified holders
of Portuguese and Spanish debt would start dumping their
bonds, forcing Madrid and Lisbon to pay a higher interest
rate both to sell new bonds and roll over the old ones
coming due. Rather than savage their welfare state
programs, and risk riots in the streets and a massacre at
the polls, Madrid and Lisbon, too, might look agreeably at

Chancellor Angela Merkel, though exasperated with the
Greeks, is urging Germans to back the $141 billion
bailout: "Nothing less than the future of Europe... is
at stake."

Merkel believes there is no alternative. But there is an
alternative -- a restructuring of Greece's debt or a
default where the holders of Greek bonds suffer the fate
of the holders of bonds from Lehman Brothers and General

Inevitably, this is what is going to happen.

For how long will Greeks work longer, retire later and
live on smaller pensions, so holders of Greek bonds can
get their interest payments right on time?

The EU and IMF may, with the bailout of Greece, kick this
can up the road. But the crisis will return. For the
nations of Europe have made commitments beyond their
capacity to keep, given their growing debts and aging

And America is not all that far behind.

While the federal deficit is not 14 percent of GDP, it
was 10 percent in 2009 and may reach 11 percent in 2010.
Trillion-dollar deficits are projected through the
decade, bringing the public debt -- held by citizens,
companies, foreign governments and sovereign wealth
funds -- close to 100 percent of GDP.

And the unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare
and federal pensions rival those of Western Europe.

States like California and New York, larger than Greece,
look a lot like Greece. Were it not for the scores of
billions dished out to them by Obama's stimulus, some of
these states would have come close to the brink New York
City went over in 1975.

Many of these states are today laying off teachers, letting
felons out of prison, and looking hard at the salaries and
pensions of civil servants. While the temptation is great
for Washington to bail them out again, the United States
government itself has now begun to attract the concerned
notice of holders of U.S. debt.

That we are witnessing Oswald Spengler's "Decline of the
West" seems undeniable.

La Dolce Vita is coming to an end. The ever-expanding
European and American welfare states of the 20th century
will contract in the 21st. Some have already begun to
shrink. A time of austerity is at hand.

Indeed, what is about to be tested is democracy itself.

Can democracies that attracted universal applause in the
golden years of rising expectations impose upon their
citizens the enduring and painful sacrifices necessary in
a time of retrenchment?

We are about to find out.

END OF Conservative Review

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