A few weeks back I promised to start a series about how Russia shows the future for United States. Let me try... Just don't think of Russia in the terms of the old Soviet Union (or today's North Korea, Cuba, and Belarus) - it's a very different country now.
Paul Ryan reminded recently that this is becoming a nation of takers vs makers. Well, Russia shows what happens when takers win. It also shows how little people are content with when this little is a freebie. Think this way. If your daily earnings are 100 dollars - how much will you be ready to accept for no work? 90 per cent? Sounds reasonable, right? - you save on gas, maybe lunch. How about 80 per cent? You are free to spend more time on kids, movies, you can party late not worrying about hangover.
Russia proved that after a century most people will be satisfied by 20-30%. Soviet economy built up such attitude - a popular joke was "you pretend that you pay us - and we pretend that we work". Obviously, if you are not concerned about making money - you have plenty of free time on your hands. Intellectuals spend numerous hours arguing about the future of mankind and reading books (especially, Samizdat - which gave life some spice). And the whole country was growing vegetables at the suburban patch or simply drinking itself into oblivion.
By the time Soviet Union fell apart the sense of entitlement was set. People have to be paid because they come to the office or to the factory - regardless whether they add any value, or whether the goods they produce have any value in the market. In the last 10 years this attitude was strongly encouraged by Putin. With $100+ for a barrel of oil there was enough money to loot by "inner circle" and distribute leftovers to those who were happy with very little as long as they didn't need to do anything to get it. In the end - everybody is dependent on the government - either you get something for nothing, or - better yet - you are one of the distributors with the powers that such distribution gives you. Successful businessmen are either in service to Putin (Deripaska, Abramovich), or in jail (Khodorkovsky is just the most famous example), or emigrated (Berezovsky).
Now, compare that to United States. How many people will be happy to do nothing in exchange for sustenance? Charles Murray says that one in 8 men in Fishtown is out of the workforce. Add the characters from Alexandra Pelosi's movie - and you get the picture. But even bigger problem is those whose work is to distribute wealth. Those who work in Social Security administration and IRS; welfare office and EPA - have their job because government made it. Add public unions officials, diversity consultants and OSHA inspectors - and you get a class of parasites that will kill any innovation or industrious spirit.
It came out way longer than I planned. Obviously, I appreciate any comments that other members may have!