Sunday, June 3, 2012

The European and North American bubble

Mark Steyn writes:

[T]he unsustainable "bubble" is not student debt or subprime mortgages or anything else. The bubble is us, and the assumptions of entitlement. Too many citizens of advanced Western democracies live a life they have not earned, and are not willing to earn. Indeed, much of our present fiscal woe derives from two phases of human existence that are entirely the invention of the modern world. Once upon a time, you were a kid till you were 13 or so; then you worked; then you died. That bit between childhood and death has been chewed away at both ends. We invented something called "adolescence" that now extends not merely through the teenage years but through a desultory half-decade of Whatever Studies at Complacency U up till you're 26 and no longer eligible for coverage on your parents' health insurance policy. At the other end of the spectrum, we introduced something called "retirement" that, in the space of two generations, has led to the presumption that able-bodied citizens are entitled to spend the last couple of decades, or one third of their adult lives, as a long holiday weekend.

Any functioning society is like an orchestra. When the parts don't fit together, it's always the other fellow who's out of tune. So the Greeks will blame the Germans, and vice-versa. But the developed world is all playing the same recessional. In the world after Western prosperity, we will work till we're older, and we will start younger – and we will despise those who thought they could defy not just the rules of economic gravity but the basic human life cycle.