The French Revolution
Wisconsin Is the New France: Entitlement Derangement Syndrome
While watching this public employee temper tantrum (complete with school closings so that teachers can attend the protests), I'm reminded of last October's French riots. For days, chaos gripped France as protestors surged into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. The fury was palpable as protestors blocked roads, battled with police, and waved their red union flags. The reason for their rage? The government's proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 (one of the world's lowest) to 62.
Welcome to the world of Entitlement Derangement Syndrome. In this world, the battle isn't about overthrowing tyranny or confronting the threat of hunger, poverty, or invasion. Instead, the battle is about comfort. It's about leisure. We will even stop doing our jobs—stop educating children—until our health insurance premiums are safe. We will follow politicians to their homes and pound our drums until we secure our generous pensions.
We want our pensions, dammit, and we want them now. We want what is ours, even if that means forcing others to pay for it.
There is a fundamental and negative cultural shift when individuals move from thinking they should keep the fruits of their own labor to believing they're entitled to the fruits of others' labor. Shutting down government for the sake of benefits you didn't pay for, and health insurance you didn't purchase, represents an entitlement mentality run amok.
Here's a sobering thought: Entitlement Derangement Syndrome is in its infancy. Wisconsin is paralyzed because of one reform impacting a small minority of its citizens. What happens when the axe falls—as, sooner or later, it must—on Social Security? On Medicare? If the unions can mobilize tens of thousands in Madison, can the entitlement culture muster millions in Washington?
I have a novel suggestion for Wisconsin's teachers: If the governor's reforms are so bad, if they burden you so much, quit your job and go find different employment. That's the kind of decision we face in the private sector. If enough of you quit, so that Wisconsin can't recruit enough teachers, you know what would happen? Wisconsin would raise teacher pay and benefits to compete. That's called the market, and it's a force the rest of us live with every day.
David French is a lawyer, writer, soldier, and veteran of the Iraq war. He is Senior Counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice. Follow him on Facebook.