Charles Sykes is a longtime Milwaukee talk-radio host and the prolific author of a number of books that helped to shape my personal political worldview, including 1988’s eye-opening “Profscam,” and 1993’s “A Nation of Victims,’ two works as timely today as they were decades ago.
“A Nation of Moochers: America’s Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing” (St. Martin’s Press) was just released, and the fact that I’m writing this at the very moment President Barack Obama is announcing yet another government plan (his fourth, I think) to “bail out” those “victims” who bought homes they couldn’t afford, makes this informative and engaging page-turner feel about as urgent and timely as any author could hope for.
What you need to know up front is that “Moochers” isn’t an attack on the poor or needy or, for that matter, a specific political party. In fact, from beginning to end, Sykes makes clear that as a country we have an obligation to feed the hungry and offer shelter to the homeless. Moreover, he isn’t even targeting a particular group, which would be impossible without a sawed-off shotgun anyway, because America’s moochers come from every level of our society.
What Sykes is targeting is a mentality, a dangerous and un-American mentality that infects almost every aspect of our culture, and one that is currently being bred into our children by those on both the left and right who are empowered by fomenting and excusing the dependence, greed, and selfishness of others. From corporate welfare to school lunches for the well-to-do to Wall Street bailouts to paying millionaires not to grow crops to tax breaks for Hollywood gajillionires to unending unemployment benefits to disaster relief for those who haven’t suffered disasters to TARP, and finally, to the shameless who walk away from mortgages they can afford to pay — what Sykes is exposing is that we are on the march to becoming Greece. Not just a European welfare state, but the kind of welfare state where the populace has been engineered by a nanny state to riot at the very thought of not being able to mooch the life to which they have become accustomed.
A large part of the problem is that thanks to those who control the levers of our media and culture, the only thing we’re taught to be ashamed of anymore is the act of attempting to shame someone. As a result, those who “want” instead of “need,” are openly and proudly grabbing all the goodies they can get their shameless hands on, and doing so at the expense of others. Worse still, those others have even been born yet.
Sykes’ examples are not only legion, they’re also dispiriting. There have always been moochers, grifters, and leeches willing to live off of the productive, but they used to creep in the shadows knowing that if their behavior was exposed they would be shunned and shamed. Today, those who live off the productive have no reason to hide. Self-respect isn’t something you earn anymore. It’s all about self-esteem now. Everyone gets a trophy, so why not brag about how you’re getting something for nothing. It’s not a sin, it’s an accomplishment!
Today, public schools in upper-middle-class neighborhoods openly push to increase their free breakfast and lunch programs; graduate students take food stamps to Whole Foods; 25 year-old boys no longer want to be men and choose instead to live with their parents for as long as they can; and then there’s those truly awful public employees who somehow think it’s a virtue to make public spectacles of themselves when faced with the prospect of having to share a standard of living closer to those of us who pay for their exorbitant pensions and benefits.
Sykes also points out that what’s happening is just the opposite of compassion, that there’s nothing moral or virtuous about creating spoiled, dependant crybabies with no self-respect. It’s bad enough Republicans and Democrats alike are bankrupting the country with addictive drugs labeled tax loopholes, subsidies, and freebies — but as a nation we’re losing that all-American pride that used to make the very thought of accepting a handout unbearable — even if we truly needed it. There will always be awful politicians trying to buy votes. But what Sykes sees (and meticulously documents) is a growing market of those willing to be purchased, and that’s something a country simply cannot survive.
Included in this must-read are some common sense solutions that include Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap.” It’s also going to take politicians from both parties who care more about their country than their personal power and parents willing to lead by example.
But the very best place to start at curing this cancer, is by educating yourself with Skyes’ excellent primer on the subject.