Another great one from Krugman. The real kicker, really, is the second-to-last sentence:
“But when they say ‘we,’ they mean ‘you.’”
If I were asked to give the main reason behind America’s current stagnation (where by current I mean the last few decades), I would cite this attitude. We are all becoming reform freeloaders. We call for change, but we want that change to be from others. While this is true in the tax reform discussion or the “balanced budget” discussion as a whole, this attitude also permeates every other level of our society:
The rich American who wants a balanced budget, yet won’t pay a percentage point more on their highest income.
The sick American who wants better health care benefits, yet won’t get off the couch or eat healthier.
The green-conscious American who demands environmental protection, yet is unwilling to reduce their own energy consumption in a meaningful manner.
The jobless American who wants faster employment growth, yet balks at the idea of reeducation, training, or a slightly less-dignified manner of work.
The poor American who wants better protection from loan sharks, yet is outraged when they are denied a loan under tighter credit regulations.
I could go on and on, but it comes down to this: we want to have our cake, and eat it too. It is time that we realized that “we” means “we.” I am reminded of a different quote:
“If every man would sweep his own doorstep, the city would soon be clean.”