A great piece from Martin Eiermann in the Huffington Post last month about the assumption (“myth”) that the welfare state (public spending, entitlements, etc.) is blamed for fiscal crisis at all levels of government. The same narrative prevails in U.S. politics, especially as we teeter over the “fiscal cliff.”
Five years have passed since the advent of the current crisis, and while the beast has since morphed from a financial crisis into a confidence and debt crisis, some mantras have become so deeply engrained into our collective psyche after loud proclamations and endless repetitions that they feature is almost any discussion about the future of the economy or, for that matter, the future role of the state. They have assumed the status of self-evident truths and have reduced public discourse to the squabble over fitting solutions. The mantra itself is taken for granted.
The argument is always the same: In light of heavy public debt, such welfare expenditures have allegedly become unsustainable. For too long, the people have apparently lived above their pay grade and have relied on the state to provide for them (cue in Romney’s “47 percent” comment here) without considering whether the benefits are financially sustainable. The welfare state entrenched promises and entitlements that it cannot guarantee any longer. The cuts, we hear, are no vicious payback campaign against the working class but simply a reminder of harsh realities.