If I were young, smart and propeller-headed, I’d invent a software program called “Cause & Effect Tracker.” It’d be foolproof and objective. It would trace any given effect to its actual rather than politically correct cause. There would be no wiggle room for denying culpability. The guilty would be exposed.

In the current fiscal fiasco, problems abound, but no one caused them. They just happened. They are causeless effects. No one is culpable – they just came upon us out of the blue. All attempts to get at the actual causes have been thwarted. The jackasses say they’re Bush’s fault. The elephants blame goings on in the Carter Administration. The reality is we’ve got a major mess on our hands; nobody admits blame for it; and nobody knows how to solve it.

Worse, we the people are hurt most by it. The incompetent, self-seeking, heads of troubled companies are being rewarded for their incompetence with taxpayer money. The politicians who helped create the problem are getting reelected, despite rock bottom congressional approval levels. Our silver-tongued President is promising the moon while delivering a little moldy Swiss cheese.

One thing is certain: the causes that are now being implemented are unlikely to have the desired effects. Congressional earmarks don’t generally stimulate the economy – but they do help ensure that incumbents will be reelected. Creating incomprehensibly vast budget deficits will not ensure prosperity. Rather they ensure a weak economy and the indebtedness of future generations. Socialism has never produced an economic utopia. Limiting solutions to ideologically correct paradigms shuts the door to better alternatives.

America and much of the world it affects are in deep financial doo-doo. When America rolls over in bed, the result is often the “crib death” of those who are dependent upon her. The US is the world’s biggest market. If we don’t buy, manufacturing nations are in trouble. The only reason Mexico and Colombia are in deadly turmoil these days is that this country is a vast market for drugs. If the demand dried up, so would the supply.

My wife and I have learned an interesting cause & effect lesson from a small bird feeder we have hanging from the corner of the garage roof. It’s intended to attract finches by means of certain seeds. Sure enough, finches gather. But so do larger birds like doves, blue jays and even an occasional pigeon. We don’t mind that so long as everyone gets his fill. Problem is, by creating a food supply for finches, we inadvertently created one for mini predators like cats and hawks. Cats love doves and doves tend to forage on the ground where cats can pounce. One day, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a hawk swoop down and carry away a dove or finch. In addition, our bird feeder also attracts rats, mice and squirrels. The squirrels prefer a diverse diet so they also help themselves to our avocados and apricots.

 

The lesson: the bird feeder, full of seeds, is the cause of the gathering of all kinds of creatures who follow their food supply. Provide food and they will come. Not only that, there are unintended consequences: the presence of other creatures you didn’t invite.

Our little bird feeder is analogous to the African water hole that attracts all the creatures that need to drink, including man. They meet to drink, but some of them kill, others escape and some go without. With our bird feeder, the doves supplant the finches and the sparrows, the jays supplant the doves, and the cats scatter everyone.

Socialism, with its nanny state mentality, is like our bird feeder. It attracts all kinds of people who are already well-fed. They are made to feel entitled. Once entitled, they feed voraciously off the government teat. Over time, they become dependent upon it. A diminishing number of overtaxed taxpayers shell out for a growing number of dependents. The dependents demand a full range of entitlements – food, clothing, healthcare, housing etc. etc. Bureaucracies burgeon. Incentive to succeed on one’s own dries up. The government becomes God, providing all things on the backs of the wealthy.

At some point, the wealthy begin to resent coercively providing for the indigent, the lazy, the rapacious and the greedy. They look for ways to protect their dwindling disposable income from predatory government. Swiss bank accounts and offshore havens become increasingly attractive. An underground economy develops, including a record-free barter system. Those who are most burdened by government seek to avoid its ever-expanding clutches. As they do so, governments, determined that no one should keep the lion’s share of the money they made, crack down, seeking to capture “lost” revenue.

Remember, governments have no money of their own. What they have must be extracted from us taxpayers. When governments practice social engineering and the redistribution of our wealth, they are exceeding their Constitutional mandate. Government in this country was never meant to function as God. The more dependent we citizens are upon government, the weaker we are as individuals. Whatever government funds from our money, it controls. The more control it has, the less we have.

If the finches that fly to our bird feeder were to become dependent upon that source of food, and if they lost the ability to forage for seeds in nature, they would die if we withdrew our supply of seeds. To the degree that we the people are dependent upon government for anything, we are weakened. How many of us oldsters could survive without Social Security and Medicare? Could we afford to retire? How many of us could pay for our own drugs apart from Part D? If you needed a heart transplant, could you pay for it out of your own money? I heard recently that up to one third of all bankruptcies in this country are due to medical costs. If true, this is scandalous.

Financing our own life cycle can be a fiscal labor of Hercules. So much conspires against it. Reaching retirement age in good financial shape eludes most of us. For the most part, we didn’t live well-planned lives. We reacted, improvised, invented, rolled with the punches, and generally tried to land on our feet. Jobs we thought might last a lifetime vaporized in a moment.  Most of us were in no position to fund our retirement out of our own accumulated wealth. We were corralled into an embarrassing dependence upon government. Then, in one last rapacious, insulting, immoral act, the government hits us with a “death tax.” They don’t want us to pass on wealth to our children – they want it to feed and fund endlessly growing government.

For every effect, there is a real cause – or causes. Getting at them is difficult at best. If we could correctly identify and correct them, we wouldn’t have to live in dependence upon government for things it is not mandated to do. In Proverbs we read, “Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest,” (Proverbs 26:2). We reap what we sow.  The crisis we now find ourselves in is the result of concrete, identifiable, cause & effect factors. We got here incrementally. There are no causeless effects. If we want to reverse the situation, we could do it. It would take time, patience, intellectual honesty, and bi-partisanship, a willingness to put the good of the nation ahead of self- or party interest and an irreversible commitment to the founding ideals of this great nation. Is it likely to happen? Not really – but it’s a wonderful dream.