The Rise of the Freeloaders

We have met the zombies… and they are us!

Mr Romney was offered a chance. He could have clarified his campaign. He could have stood up for something. He could have made history.

In a private fundraising meeting he let it be known that zombies were sucking the life out of the nation. Almost half of US households don’t pay taxes, he said. He implied that they were deadbeats who had become dependent on the government.

The opinion mongers jumped all over him. Worse than a mortal sin, Mr Romney had committed a political ‘gaffe’.

But where was the gaffe? Not in what he said; it was true. But candidates are not supposed to say the truth; there was the gaffe. Doesn’t he know that zombies vote? That’s what David Brooks, in The New York Times, calls an “inept presidential campaign”.

Oh, for a candidate with a backbone! Oh, for one with a brain!

We don’t have any more information on the subject than we did last week. But we’ve had more time to think. And look. And what we see is a nation being smothered by zombies. They’re everywhere.

David Brooks again:

“In 1980, about 30% of Americans received some form of government benefits. Today, as Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute has pointed out, about 49% do.

“In 1960, government transfers to individuals totalled $24bn. By 2010, that total was 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown by more than 700% over the last 50 years. This spending surge, Eberstadt notes, has increased faster under Republican administrations than Democratic ones.”

Poor Mr Brooks is indignant. “Who are these freeloaders,” he wants to know?

“Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the Veterans’ Administration? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Security or Medicare?”

We know what he’s thinking. What kind of a fool would accuse these people of being freeloaders?

Well, we’re not sure. But they could all be zombies, living off the honest work of others. The war veteran at the VA; who pays? The student; will he pay back his loans? Did the retiree pay enough to cover his Social Security? His Medicare?

And that’s only a small part of the story. In addition, entire industries – with real workers producing real goods and services – have been taken over and corrupted by the feds.

It’s easy to point at the defence industry. It is a fat monster much more concerned with keeping the appropriations gravy train running than with actually protecting the country. The engineer working for Raytheon, for example, tries to do honest work… but his whole company has been turned into a zombie enterprise, a parasite on the rest of the economy.

And the education industry too. Teachers do an honest day’s work for an honest salary. But behind them is a zombie army of ‘educators’ – bureaucrats and bamboozlers whose real role is to suck money away from the productive economy.

The same could be said about health care. Doctors, nurses, therapists – there are thousands and thousands of genuine, hardworking health care professionals. But the industry is also chock-a-block with zombie administrators, lawyers, regulators, controllers, bureaucracies and agencies.

The cost of health care is through the roof – and now threatens to bankrupt the entire nation. But the health payoff is marginal… at best. Life expectancies in the US are about the same as in many other countries that spend only a fraction as much.

Farmers! Many of them depend on subsidies – direct and indirect. Builders! What would they do if the feds let Fannie and Freddie collapse? Bankers! Ditto.

Zombies to the left of us. Zombies to the right. And a zombie on every street corner when you’re trying to get home.

If only Mitt Romney had had the guts to say something. If only he had had the eyes to see something!

The Fed offers to print an unlimited quantity of money. The Obama administration offers to create new jobs. But the real problem is zombies. The country is going broke trying to support them all – educators, administrators, lobbyists, lawyers, regulators, controllers, meddlers, government employees… people creating government paperwork… people doing the paperwork…

… and then there is the 49% getting direct benefits from the feds.

And you can’t mention it. Any discussion of the ‘makers’ and the ‘takers’ is considered heartlessly libertarian.

And because you can’t discuss it, you can’t change it. Instead, the zombies get more of the nation’s output every year… until the whole system collapses.

That’s a zombocracy.


Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

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Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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2 Comments on "The Rise of the Freeloaders"

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Amen Brother

Every young to middle aged working or self funded Aussie should be looking closely at what is happening in the US and Europe. Are you a slave that will accept a load too big to bear for your own shoulders for the remainder of your life? Not just the Zombies, but Financial Vampires who will take as much as they can of whatever is left and keep taking until the host is dead. The host is YOU! Your children will have nothing left, your property rights will be given up in the end just like the peoples of Greece and… Read more »
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