Ever since Adam and Eve craved a bite of the forbidden apple, humans with free will have experienced the emotion of desiring something they do not have.
Survival living, personal safety, a mate, a family — all are wants that are satisfied by personal or collective action. The more sophisticated the society, the more complex the wants or needs, and the more complex the methods to satisfy the needs.
At any given point in time, there are desires that cannot be satisfied with existing solutions, and a gap develops between a want and the can-do process to provide a solution that satisfies the want. Sounds simple, but it involves a highly complex set of interrelationships that involves use of resources in a marginally efficient process that provides a solution.
There is a simple modern example. It was President John F. Kennedy’s national commitment to put a man on the moon during the following 10 years. President Kennedy, in a speech before the United States Congress, proposed on May 25, 1961, the ambitious national goal. He stated a program that “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
Times were different; the economy was expanding; national pride was a motivator; there was domestic production capacity; the Soviet Union appeared to be a military threat; and Kennedy was a popular young chief executive.
Without national opposition among the citizenry, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was authorized and funded by Congress. The best and the brightest among the scientific and engineering communities rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
The project was named Apollo. The first steps by humans on the moon were taken by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11 ended the space race and fulfilled President Kennedy’s goal. A national want produced the can-do to realize a goal.
During the 1960s, the output of American business responded to worldwide growth with solid output that translated into remarkable expansion. Figures for 1961 report GDP of $2.98 trillion and for 1969 of $4.26 trillion. Those who wanted to work could find well-paying employment, and the gap between wants and can-do narrowed significantly as Americans filled their new homes with consumer goods.
Nothing lasts forever, and social unrest, an unpopular war, restless, bored youth and a less rigid family structure impacted the United States. The next 40 years of events will be studied, restudied and put under a “what if” microscope by those who enjoy such exercise.
A polarized yet brilliant cast of historians will retreat to their favorite economic or sociological impulses to explain the dramatic change of life in the United States. I will leave that discussion to others since I won’t change any minds with one short column. Besides, I want to wait to see if my own thinking has merit.
Recently, The New York Sun stated: “Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and prior to that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States.” Sadly, many people do not understand, and worse still, they just don’t care.
The expanded wants of the population are outstripping the can-do of wealth creation. The opium of wealth redistribution ignores the fact that you must create wealth before you can redistribute it to nonproducers. It is a given that all government generates no real wealth and merely adds to the collective overhead of the system. For years, the producers of wealth could absorb the cost of overhead and were able to pass the expense on to its customers and still make a profit. No longer.
Successive waves of government oversight, legal requirements, audit needs and regulatory licensing have required business to absorb more and more costs that must be passed along to customers. Masses of consumer advocates have painted business leadership as “greedy” and “crooked.” That, in turn, specifically penalizes medium sized and often privately held companies. This is an atmosphere of despair and potential failure.
I believe that we may be at a crossroads with blind-deaf people driving the car. CNS News reported recently that Americans who were recipients of means-tested government benefits in 2011 outnumbered year-round full-time workers.
The story reported there were 108,592,000 people in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2011 who were recipients of one or more means-tested government benefit programs. It continued that there were 101,716,000 full-time workers in 2011, including both private-sector and government workers.
This is not Republican or Democratic, progressive or conservative — this is abject failure.