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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ethics, Honor, and Diminishing Returns

Ethics

Everyone understands that supply is limited. There's only so much to go around, while what people want is seemingly infinite. Give a person the proverbial three magic wishes and the first thing he'll ask for is for more wishes. To prove that people's wants are indeed truly infinite, nothing could more accurately and elegantly depict this fact than the recent EBT-card debacle.

Some food-stamp recipients become aware of the fact that their EBT cards had an unlimited balance. They could buy as much food as they wanted. These few quickly alerted their friends and relatives to this bizarre glitch in the EBT card system. Within minutes the EBT-card using "poor" converged on local stores and area Wal-Mart shopping centers. They had to know that this was a mistake in the system. They had to know that what they were doing was wrong, immoral, dishonest, by any standard of rule and law that you'd care to apply. Shoppers and their accomplices filled four, five, ten, twelve shopping carts of food up each. Can you imagine the chaos as a pushing shoving crowd of greedy immoral thieves each pushed or pulled five or ten carts of food up to the register? It was madness! When the price of the supply is free, then demand becomes infinite.
[Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd] explained the cards weren’t showing limits and they called corporate Wal-Mart, whose spokesman said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700.00 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Wal-Mart said they wouldn’t press charges if she left the food.

Lynd says at 9 p.m., when the cards came back online and it was announced over the loud speaker, people just left their carts full of food in the aisles and left.

“Just about everything is gone, I’ve never seen it in that condition,” said Mansfield Wal-Mart customer Anthony Fuller.

Honor

Commandment number five of the Ten Commandments is to "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." As we grow older we require more care. We expect our children to provide that care. We expect our nation to repay us for our years of sacrifice and hard work by making our golden years happy, peaceful, and worry free. We expect to retire by age 65 and then live another three decades or more loving on our grandchildren and completing bucket lists, tending gardens, playing bingo, and going for walks in the park. It sounds great. It sounds kind of like a metaphorical return to Eden if you will. No work, no worries, everyone respectful of us, honoring those who are their father or their mother...so-to-speak. We want to live forever, or at least for as long as life is still fun. Life wants to live.

Unfortunately there is a problem: while the demand for life is infinite, the supply has until recently been limited to three-score and ten or thereabouts. We are all lucky to exist at a time when science and medicine have coalesced into this incredible emerging force that almost promises immortality. Who can know how long we'll live when scientists are now able to print a working kidney?
Who can know how long we'll live? How can we plan for a retirement that never ends? As we get older it costs more and more to keep us alive. The medical treatments grow ever more expensive, the prescriptions more costly, the prognosis more grim. A point is reached—a breaking point—where nothing more is possible. It's always been that way, except that this breaking point is reached ever-later as man's knowledge of science and medicine grows ever more extensive, and ever more costly.

Diminishing Returns

Diminishing return, is the single most important economic factor that seems to have been completely ignored throughout all these Obama-care, government shutdown, debt ceiling, deficit reduction, quantitative easing, and government stimulus debates. America's single biggest unfunded liability is Medicare at 87.5 trillion dollars, followed by prescription drugs as 22 trillion, finally Social Security as 16.6 trillion. That's 126 trillion dollars we owe right now to people who are retired or who are alive now and will be retiring under current law. I got my numbers from U.S. National Debt Clock.org. Everyone always worries about the national debt at 17 trillion, but the fact is that tens of millions of people are going to be retiring soon, and that means the price of running these three programs is going to soar well past our ability to pay for them. There is going to come a breaking point for the country, where nothing more is possible. The prognosis is looking grimmer with every passing day. Unless some kind of Deus ex machina comes along to save the day, to save us from ourselves, this will not end well.

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