Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"History suggests the entitlement era is winding down"

Michael Barone says major changes in American life have often happened at 76-year intervals. The entitlement state may be come to an end, as one of those 76-year intervals is almost up.

The original arrangements in each 76-year period became unworkable and unraveled toward its end. Eighteenth-century Americans rejected the colonial status quo and launched a revolution and established a constitutional republic.

Nineteenth-century Americans went to war over expansion of slavery. Early 20th-century Americans grappled with the collapse of the private sector economy in the Depression of the 1930s.

We are seeing something like this again today. The welfare state arrangements that once seemed solid are on the path to unsustainability.

Of course, 76 year intervals are just a rhetorical hook. The broader point is that underlying social attitudes and institutions need to adjust and shift at least every three generations or so, as the world changes.


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