December 11, 2029, New San Franbaha, CA — Entitlement caused the thing.
Back in 2012, before the Cliff, entitlement was only a campaign whipping boy of the Reds. The trouble was that entitlement was also the state of mind among the wealthy; it was almost a uniform belief among the rich that they must hoard their hard-earned wealth at all cost — even at the cost of the Republic.
When we went over the Cliff, austerity measures came into effect dumping the middle class into a depression worse than the first one. Unemployment shot up to 85 percent. Banks foreclosed on homes. People were living on the street. Starvation was the norm everywhere except in farm areas. China sold off its investments in America, flooding the market with near worthless government bonds driving interest rates sky high. Businesses folded right and left. Rioting led quickly to disaster. At first, the military supported the failing government attempting to enforce the foreclosures and maintain order.
The government was soon useless and remained in gridlock. Taxpayers, those with enough entrenched wealth to pay taxes, refused to pay. With interest rates at 24 percent, there was not enough revenue to pay interest on the national debt. Currency collapsed. There was none left to pay the military. Our cities were smoldering ruins.
The Second Civil War lasted 12 years. It would have gone on, too, but for the farm states. The rest is history.
Midwest and Northern States formed a new political party, the United Nationals. Their platform of egality, fraternity, term limits and a balanced budget swept aside the polarized major parties and ended the guerrilla warfare in the streets.
Only now, as we recover from the American Holocaust, historians struggle with the root causes of the disaster.
Arguably, entitlement was the fundamental cause, entitlement of the rich to pump money out of the middle class — by way of China — unfettered by post depression rules against monopoly. Legislators repealed laws from the 1930s restricting: trusts, cartels, mergers, foreign outsourcing and banking regulations. Entitlement of our youth grew into disobedience, rudeness, vulgarity, drugs and the legalization of Cannabis. A significant population felt entitled to indolent free-loading, undisciplined and unemployable. Self-entitled corporations lead to the privatization of critical infrastructure — extorting wealth from the middle class. Students stopped going to college because of the cost.
The Supreme Court entitled the legal use of money to bribe legislators. Teachers were entitled not to teach, students not to study and workers not to work. Most of all it was the creeping entitlement of industry to globalize under the newly distorted economic views of Adam Smith insisting that greed was the driving force to prosperity. Lastly, banks were entitled to merge with investment houses, insurance companies and with one another.
Government and citizens alike have a sacred duty to work for the common good. Entitlement was greed.
Clancy Hughes, who lives in Homer, is a retired physician and air taxi operator, science writer and
part-time assistant professor.