Skip to comments.History Suggests That Entitlement Era Is Winding Down
Posted on 01/14/2013 3:25:07 AM PST by Kaslin
It's often good fun and sometimes revealing to divide American history into distinct periods of uniform length. In working on my forthcoming book on American migrations, internal and immigrant, it occurred to me that you could do this using the American-sounding interval of 76 years, just a few years more than the Biblical lifespan of three score and 10.
It was 76 years from Washington's First Inaugural in 1789 to Lincoln's Second Inaugural in 1865. It was 76 years from the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 to the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Going backward, it was 76 years from the First Inaugural in 1789 to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which settled one of the British-French colonial wars. And going 76 years back from Utrecht takes you to 1637, when the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay colonies were just getting organized.
As for our times, we are now 71 years away from Pearl Harbor. The current 76-year interval ends in December 2017.
Each of these 76-year periods can be depicted as a distinct unit. In the colonial years up to 1713, very small numbers of colonists established separate cultures that have persisted to our times.
The story is brilliantly told in David Hackett Fischer's "Albion's Seed." For a more downbeat version, read the recent "The Barbarous Years" by the nonagenarian Bernard Bailyn.
From 1713 to 1789, the colonies were peopled by much larger numbers of motley and often involuntary settlers -- slaves, indentured servants, the unruly Scots-Irish on the Appalachian frontier.
For how this society became dissatisfied with the colonial status quo, read Bailyn's "Ideological Origins of the American Revolution."
From 1789 to 1865, Americans sought their manifest destiny by expanding across the continent. They made great technological advances but were faced with the irreconcilable issue of slavery in the territories.
For dueling accounts of the period, read the pro-Andrew Jackson Democrat Sean Wilentz's "The Rise of American Democracy" and the pro-Henry Clay Whig Daniel Walker Howe's "What Hath God Wrought." Both are sparklingly written and full of offbeat insights and brilliant apercus.
The 1865-1941 period saw a vast efflorescence of market capitalism, European immigration and rising standards of living. For descriptions of how economic change reshaped the nation and its government, read Morton Keller's "Affairs of State and Regulating a New Society."
The 70-plus years since 1941 have seen a vast increase in the welfare safety net and governance by cooperation between big units -- big government, big business, big labor -- that began in the New Deal and gained steam in and after World War II. I immodestly offer my own "Our Country: The Shaping of America From Roosevelt to Reagan."
The original arrangements in each 76-year period became unworkable and unraveled toward its end. Eighteenth-century Americans rejected the colonial status quo and launched a revolution and established a constitutional republic.
Nineteenth-century Americans went to war over expansion of slavery. Early 20th-century Americans grappled with the collapse of the private sector economy in the Depression of the 1930s.
We are seeing something like this again today. The welfare state arrangements that once seemed solid are on the path to unsustainability.
Entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- are threatening to gobble up the whole government and much of the private sector, as well.
Lifetime employment by one big company represented by one big union is a thing of the past. People who counted on corporate or public sector pensions are seeing them default.
Looking back, we are as far away in time today from victory in World War II in 1945 as Americans were at the time of the Dred Scott decision from the First Inaugural.
We are as far away in time today from passage of the Social Security in 1935 as Americans then were from the launching of post-Civil War Reconstruction.
Nevertheless our current president and most politicians of his party seem determined to continue the current welfare state arrangements -- historian Walter Russell Mead calls this the blue state model -- into the indefinite future.
Some leaders of the other party are advancing ideas for adapting a system that worked reasonably well in an industrial age dominated by seemingly eternal big units into something that can prove workable in an information age experiencing continual change and upheaval wrought by innovations in the market economy.
The current 76-year period is nearing its end. What will come next?
Ironic that LBJ’s attempt to end poverty may end up being the reason for a coming level of poverty never before seen in this country.
These guys thought that sometime around 2000, the US might face some enormous crisis -- I don't know, maybe some big terrorist attack in a major US city -- and that this traumatic event would usher in a generation of heroes who would transform this country and achieve miraculous things.
But sometimes things don't go as one might hope.
Nonagenarian. The man is 90 years old, quit calling him names.
We’ve already run out of other people’s money. Now they are simply printing up new money. Next, we’ll have a monetary collapse. I’m not really seeing an upside here.
The heroes are arising,but they are either generally met by disdain or worse by the powers that be.Look at what they did to Sarah Palin, Allen West Herman Cain, or the tea Party in general.
Demos has had its chance.
And this is the only thinig which will "wind down" the entitlement state. Until then the government will continue to spend more and more of the imaginary capital it creates by sheer fiat.
That's because they came from separate cultures in different parts of England, as described more fully in the later-referenced Albion's Seed.
I believe many elected Republicans are worse than RINO's - they are actually Democrats a la Bloomberg. We've been duped.
Perhaps...but those good folks and others like them are still around. The time will come. I am willing, and I aim to be part of it. Sometimes you can’t fix stupid...until stupid has run out of all other options.
For me, I will also be plugging in to the Heritage Foundation. My hope is that Jim DeMint and others like him can develop effective strategy for taking on the Left. Currently, we play whack a mole with these people..many on the “R” side. That has to change.
I don’t understand the reasoning here. The entitlement state will wind down after monetary collapse? Why? Wasn’t the Cloward-Piven strategy to do just that in order to expand the Welfare State? Won’t capitalism be blamed, as always? Didn’t Germany go Nazi and Russia remain in bondage after hyperinflation and the idiotic deliberate attempt to destroy currency, respectively?
Why should I expect less government following collapse? What, there has to be an economy to feed on for there to be Leviathan? We have no concept of how much there is for the state to eat. There were governments in the previous century which literally murdered the productive classes and slithered on for decades.
“I dont understand the reasoning here. The entitlement state will wind down after monetary collapse? Why? Wasnt the Cloward-Piven strategy to do just that in order to expand the Welfare State?”
“Why should I expect less government following collapse?”
Maybe terminology is the issue. As you stated, history has shown that once their strategy succeeds, the welfare state will consume its own, until just enough useful idiots are left to provide for not government, but a dictator.
Well. That’s a buzzkill.
I do agree with your reasoning. As long as they have a collaborating mainstream propaganda machine, the zombies will continue to vote these career politicians into power.
The Cloward-Piven strategy is not full proof. It is a gamble for the communists who believe once the system completely breaks down a communist regime will “naturally” follow. That might not happen....
It will collaspe, expect it.
Communism tried that, and lasted all of a year. South Africa, btw, something like 90+ percent of all the productive land and interest-bearing economy is still possessed by white people.
It simply, cannot, be done.
Beat me to it.
Secula, a period of about 80 years amounting to a long lifetime within which there is a High, an Awakening, an Unraveling and then a Crisis. Usually the Crisis is preceded by an Economic Crisis. Each of the four turnings last about 20 years and come in the order listed. There are usually only distinct boundaries at the culmination of the Crisis stage when war is declared and ended.
And so it has been through the history of this nation and its forebear’s since the 1400’s.
Wars go on through the Secula but not all wars are Crisis. WWI was not a crisis to the U.S. it had gone on a long time before we gave it our 20 months, Korea, Vietnam etc. were punctuation marks in the Awakening and ushered the Unraveling.
There are generational changes corresponding to the Turnings. Prophet, Nomad, Hero and Artist. Artists are being born now. Boomers are Prophets. Each generation has consistent characteristics that are linked to those who raised them and the time they were raised of course.
Because the Secula is equal to a long life most of us will live to see all four parts of the cycle but from different perspectives of course.
You need not buy into all this book has to say but it is very thought provoking. For an intro the authors maintain a web site.
Nothing happens by chance. There is a pattern.
I was going to point out here that some Freeper had pointed me to "The Fourth Turning" in response to my own little "70 year itch" theory that every 70 years (give or take) something big happens that changes the direction. Perhaps it was you. Anyway, I read it. Interesting stuff, they say 80 years. If you look at their website forums though you'll find that most of the posters there are dreaming of the day a communist dictator finally rises and sets this country on the right footing, so they are probably quite pleased with the way things are going.