Four Minutes to Explain All That Is Wrong With America

September 22, 2011 - 5:32 AM
Very often, I am asked to sum up for politics-minded colleagues just what I think is so terribly wrong with the American economy. It's always difficult to encapsulate all of America's fiscal problems in a few sentences -- everything from devastating crime to rising poverty levels, from inflated real estate values to bank bailouts, comes into play. Barrels of ink have been spilled on this topic, and barrels more will follow them.

In short, it's almost impossible to sum up what's wrong with America's economy while standing on one leg.

Unless your name is Mr. EBT. EBT, for those who are too ignorant to know how their tax dollars are spent, stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer. Essentially, state governments distribute welfare payments via a credit card (EBT). Most major food outlets take EBT as a form of cash. States cannot charge sales tax on any items bought with an EBT.

Just who is Mr. EBT, though? He's a self-titled rapper who just came out with a new YouTube sensation titled "My EBT." Yes, he wears the traditional rapper get-up of a straight-brimmed hat and baggy pants. But look beyond the clothing and see something deeper -- the sort of leech who is bankrupting our society.

In a three minute, 51-second song, Mr. EBT champions his eponymous card -- or rather, his sister's EBT card. (Yes, that's fraud.) Because, as we all know, government dependency is a family value.

As he wanders aimlessly through the aisles of corner stores, he chants, "Sandwiches, chips, Snickers, Twix ... I'm eating good. Potato chips ... a big box of Oreos ... cereal, Kix ... my EBT, my EBT...walking down the ave', there's food I got a hunger for." He doesn't have a hunger for grammar, but he has hunger for taxpayer cash. "It's the EBT, it's not food stamps," he says. "If I don't have my card, I use someone else's!"

Welcome to Obama's America, where shame is no longer allowed. If you steal my money so that you can make videos about stealing my money, at the very least, hide the video in your basement. Don't post it on YouTube. But the majority of those who live off the taxpayer dole don't merely champion their sucking from the taxpayer teat, they see it as their God-given right.

This culture of entitlement doesn't start at the bottom; it starts at the top. It doesn't have to do with race, or with class. It has to do with a basic human tendency to accept what we are given and assume that we deserve it. There is a reason that the heads of Solyndra still do not see what they did wrong in blowing nearly half-a-billion dollars. After all, they were entitled to it. For the same reason, those who receive EBT cards and "swipe! swipe!" away do not see a problem.

The EBT mentality has destroyed the American economy. People who can't afford mortgages thought they were entitled to mortgages simply by virtue of living in America. People who gave them those mortgages thought they were entitled to bailouts, simply because the federal government had always bailed them out.

Presenting human beings with EBTs of any form -- be it loopholes, benefits or bailouts -- perverts the human spirit of individualism. It changes the nature of aspirations by changing the baseline. If, at baseline, we have only our own skills and resources to work with, we aspire to maximize those skills and resources in order to benefit in every possible way. If, at baseline, we are given money from other sources, we aspire to maximize that money and then benefit from it. Dependency is a cycle, and America is deep in its throes.

We will not exit that cycle until those like Mr. EBT -- assuming he is not the world's most clever satirist -- are held to account. Track him down, take away his EBT card and tell him to get a job.

If he's clever enough to put up a YouTube video that garners him 150,000 views, he's clever enough to flip a burger rather than living off the rest of us. The same holds true of Solyndra. If they're clever enough to grab $500 million of public money, they should be clever enough to run a business without that $500 million.

It's time to end the EBT mentality and restore the mentality of individualism and liberty. Otherwise, we'll all end up on the EBT in the near term, and the country will end up bankrupt in the long term.