I read recently that all the great democratic societies of history (surprisingly including the Ancient Greeks and Rome - though their idea of 'democracy' was rather different from the modern one) eventually commit financial suicide within 200 - 250 years of their establishment. The reason? Someone eventually begins to promise the electorate that voting for them will mean getting something 'free' from the State. There is only one way a 'State' can hand out money or goods, they must first take it from the citizenry.
The electorate may not be stupid, but offer someone a share of someone else's wealth and they'll take it. This is where the suicide comes in, because the handouts, be they cash or goods, eventually exceed the ability of those being taxed, to pay for it ...
Margaret Thatcher is credited with remarking: "The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." She was absolutely right. While we may not all agree with everything she stood for or did, we have to acknowledge that she had an extremely sharp grasp of where the money was coming from - and why it couldn't continue.
The American Statesman, Thomas Jefferson, is credited with the observation that; "Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work, and give to those who would not." That, perhaps sums up a large part of the problem. I think everyone will agree that there needs to be a safety net in any civilised society for those who cannot work, the sick, the disabled, the aged and those temporarily out of work. The trouble is that this has, in every society, very quickly become a "right' to be demanded and paid to everyone who doesn't have the slightest intention of ever working.
Allowing that situation to continue for far too long has led us to the brink of the precipice. Interestingly, the UK has really only been a real deomcracy since 1836. What passed for 'democracy' prior to that was a strictly limited system - one 'borough' only had one voter, but returned a Member of Parliament - with only the rich landowning class actually having a vote. By my reckoning that makes it about due for committing financial suicide. The US is now 'democratically' close to the 250 year mark, as is France ...
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