The Great Society and The Great Pumpkin

Waiting For The Great Pumpkin
Waiting For The Great Pumpkin

“We have just concluded the 5th fiscal year since President Obama took office. During those five years, the federal government has spent a total $3.7 trillion on approximately 80 different means-tested poverty and welfare programs. The common feature of means-tested assistance programs is that they are graduated based on a person’s income and, in contrast to programs like Social Security or Medicare, they are a free benefit and not paid into by the recipient,” says the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee.


US Senate Budget Committee.

So what middle-aged adult in today’s America didn’t grow up watching the Peanuts Halloween Special? The one that featured The Great Pumpkin! Poor Linus, he spent all Halloween Evening waiting in his pumpkin patch for The Great Pumpkin instead of getting candy. Like Linus, our Modern intelligentsia awaits the day when all Americans will enjoy equality in outcome. They’ll be in that welfare state pumpkin-patch a long, long time before that ever happens. In fact, the entire economy will probably collapse under the weight of the American entitlement system before equality of outcome ever occurs.

The original premise behind the current bevy of American welfare state programs is reasonable and perhaps decent. They were historically described as “a hand up, not a hand out.” Those who questioned the perspicacity of allowing large groups of people to derive all or most of their continued sustenance from this “Safety Net” were derided as heartless and cruel. Proverbs 14:21 would be quoted abundantly, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 not so much. And yet it was the latter that became the motto which allowed the colony at Jamestown, VA to survive.

So what led us to corrupt our network of social support? How did we get to where more people were receiving he benefits of Proverbs 14:21 than were doing the work required under 2 Thessalonians 3:10? In America today, we have 108,592,000 people on entitlements, but only 101,716,000 in the work force. The mathematics of this grow predictably tenuous. This explains why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid talks up the virtues of higher taxation.


“The only people who feel there shouldn’t be more coming in to the federal government from the rich people are the Republicans in the Congress,” Reid said. “Everybody else, including the rich people, are willing to pay more. They want to pay more. You keep talking about Medicare and Social Security. Get something else in your brain. Stop talking about that. That is not going to happen this time. There is not going to be a grand bargain,” Reid said. “What we need to do is have Murray and her counterpart in the House, Ryan, work together to come up with something to get out of this senseless sequestration and start the budgeting process so that we can do normal appropriation bills.”

Reid said Republicans would have to agree to more tax revenue to get anywhere near a bigger deal.

“They have their mind set on doing nothing, nothing more on revenue, and until they get off that kick, there’s not going to be a grand bargain on — there’s not going to be a small bargain,” Reid said. “We’re just going to have to do something to work our way through sequestration.”

(“There’s Not Going To Be A Grand Bargain.” – Roll Call

There can’t be a Great Bargain and a Liberal Dream in synonymy. The people were promised equality of result. As long as the results remain in any way unequal, the EBT Cards must be charged. This logical disconnect leaves no possibility of compromise. The Government always has to take more, and more and more to fuel the transfer engine.


When 1.07 people get the dole for every 1.0 who go to work, the system cannot be expected to function. It eventually will not. The fact that 60% of those who do work are accumulating debt faster than savings is not an issue. They must be taxed still more. The beast must still be fed until equality of result is attained.

That equality will increasingly become Equality at The Zero. The people who try to make an honest living will be fed through the wood-chipper in pursuit of this Great Society where everyone enjoys equality of outcome regardless of personal initiative or effort. Ultimately the income transfer engine ends up hurting the very people it was intended to help.

The increased spending of funds that the government does not have has led to the permanent stagnation of wages, while prices still increase. You cannot increase the money supply or “liquidity” while failing to produce new real value and not have this happen. Each dollar bill becomes increasingly more like toilet paper as a result of valueless money creation.

We see this most directly in housing markets. Rents continue to increase while hourly wages fail to increase in real value. This results in rents becoming unaffordable for working class families.

Nationally, the average hourly wage among renters is $14.32 this year compared with the $18.79 needed to afford an apartment at a fair-market rent, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, without spending more than 30 percent of income on housing, a National Low Income Housing Coalition report found in March. The $4.47 gap this year is wider than the $4.10 differential in 2012. The report found that extremely low-income households could afford to spend no more than $495 a month on an apartment this year, while the national two-bedroom fair-market rent was $977.


Bloomberg News

Of course this means that government over-spending hurts women and the children the worst. Particularly the children.

There were 1.2 million homeless students during the 2011-12 academic year, from preschool all the way through high school. That’s up 10% from last year and 72% from the start of the recession, according to the most recent data available from the National Center for Homeless Education, which is funded by the Department of Education. Advocacy groups say continuing economic struggles are causing more students to end up homeless, meaning that they live in shelters, motels, or are staying temporarily with someone else because they have nowhere to live.

CNN Money

So as California Governor Jerry Brown would assure us,“Government can best solve the problems it first created itself.” At some point we will have to make these people stop being so gosh darn nice about things. It would be easier if the DC wealth transfer engine wasn’t spending increasingly worthless money that it doesn’t even really have to solve a growing equality problem that government itself creates. So until ratiocinations sets in we sit in our decreasingly dysfunctional pumpkin-patch awaiting the equality of results that will arrive for us about when the Great Pumpkin shows up.

*- Edgar J. Helms of Goodwill Industries originally used that formulation as a motto.



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