In his foreword to his book, A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America, Bruce Cannon Gibney states:
“This book’s explanation is straightforward: America suffers from its present predicament because a large group of small-minded people chose the leaders and actions that led to our present degraded state. Combing over the data, a picture emerges, one of bad behaviors and unchecked self-interest, occurring at the individual level and recapitulated, via the voting booth, by the state.”
“If the Boomers’ status as sociopaths is of great, if abstract, interest, the effects of their sociopathy are matters of undeniable and tangible consequence. The more power Boomers accumulated, the more self-serving and destructive their policies became. For purely selfish reasons, the Boomers unraveled the social fabric woven by previous generations. We can match the sociopathic checklist to Boomer behaviors, Boomer behaviors to social policies, and social policies to the nation’s present difficulties, tracing causation.”
“In the end, the country broke Boomerish and Boomers broke the country, yet again.”
Basically, the Boomers scorned and broke the social contract. The commons and the related social contract is what defines a country. The Boomer motto was and is: Greed is good. Consumerism has ruled in the United States for a very long time … at least since WWII. Prosperity enabled it and it fueled selfish and short-term behaviors. I am a consumer and I find it hard to break the habit. However, I don’t believe that I should stock-pile all that I can while others, often many others, do without. I also don’t believe that having a conscience means that I’ll do all the work while everyone else plays. The wealthy need to pay their share. Incomes above a certain level should be taxed at higher rates, especially than the rates paid by the middle and lower class.
Warren Buffett says the super-rich pay lower tax rates than others and the Truth Squad at PolitiFacts.com agrees that a secretary can pay higher taxes than a millionaire. Often payroll taxes (FICA, Medicare, etc.) make the difference.
Social Security was never intended to the primary retirement fund for every American. it was supposed to be a safety net. As such, qualified retirees who earn more than a set amount in other income (of any kind) need to forfeit Social Security payments. I think $150,000 a year is a reasonable number for an individual’s or a couple’s income.
Taxing the wealthy and removing tax exemptions and subsidies for businesses would make all these programs healthy again. Moreover, “Medicare for All” would largely eliminate the biggest cause of catastrophic expense/debt – medical treatment.
I dream about being wealthy just as nearly everyone does. However, I don’t think that once I have my needs met in a luxurious manner that I need to just keep tallying up the dollars. Philanthropy is nice, but it isn’t predictable or enforceable. We need to ensure a healthy standard of living for the majority of Americans and the wealthy can contribute. Also, businesses and investments are still profitable and worthy when “growth” is flat. Earning the same rate of profit or return on investment would tell me that the business is meeting the needs of both its employees/investors and the market.
Self-interest and selfishness are not the same thing. Self-interest is normal, but altruism is not a bad word.