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Monday, February 20, 2012

Are Moochers Also Fearing Economic Doomsday?

The talk about fear of a coming economic catastrophe usually comes from the highly-educated and wealthy sectors of our economy, people generally in a position to know.  These people have access to many other people, whose wealth, positions and connections make them important barometers of society's true economic health.  Their actions, their fear, can and does move the markets.

The fear of economic collapse has been chronicled in the last four years by many polls of the working classes, the middle class, the so-called professional class -- this means just about all lawyers, doctors and medical professionals, anyone not owning a business and making a salary or a draw on a partnership -- who are afraid of the bottom dropping out.

But what about that large segment of the society that is on the public government payroll, the ones who are subsidized by the taxpayers?  What about those who simply get subsidized by the government for not working -- a permanent "moochers" class, if you will?  What if they are just as fearful?

In a true economic collapse, wouldn't the "moochers" fare worst of all?  After all, they are dependent on others, either by necessity and circumstance (e.g., the single mother with several children and no extended family for support) or through habit and sloth. Whatever the reason, they have the least self-sufficiency, the least independence, the least readiness to respond adequately to a crisis to help themselves or their loved ones.  

The public employees, that class of people whose members are often derided for their relative lack of industriousness (plain English translation: they're often damn lazy) and inversely proportionate (and perverse) sense of entitlement and arrogance, depend and count on their union pensions for their future.  Except that many municipalities are near bankrupt and many states and cities are grossly underfunding their employees' defined benefit plans (which shortfall may be made up by taxpayers).  What if those pensions are broke when these employees retire?

What if there is no one left tomorrow to tax?

Perhaps, just perhaps, the "moocher" class is grabbing all it can today, all the freebies and bennies (Jersey shore slang for "benefits") it can take now, because instinct tells it that there will be none tomorrow.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this sickening demand for free things -- like free contraceptives that are free for the users but expensive for everyone else -- is a sign of economic rationality.  Just like the over-the-hill (allegedly) 36-year-old woman who tried to extort money from alleged lover, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman; that could also be said to have been economic rationality if not criminal extortion.  

The hoarding and selfishness are rational behaviors. The question for the rest of us who actually work to survive and provide for our loved ones is what our response will be, as the world moves towards economic war.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who is developing a book on crony justice.  Mr. Dixon is also on the Board of Directors of the Financial Policy Council.

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