By Dan Kervick
During last year’s presidential election, Dr. Willard M. Romney diagnosed a previously unrecognized epidemic illness that is eating away at the moral foundations of our country. Romney was the first medical scientist to grasp that 47% of our citizens have been transformed into an army of zombie parasites now known to the experts as “moochers.” The moochers have been infected with DES, Degenerative Entitlement Syndrome, a 21st century plague whose victims live lives solely devoted to sucking funds from the bank accounts of decent people. Not one to sit idly by while an invasive undead horde saps and impurifies our precious bodily fluids, Dr. Romney attempted to sound the national alarm about the moocher scourge. But alas, he was ahead of his time. The country was not yet ready to hear his bracing but prescient DES warning.
Moochers might appear normal, but don’t be fooled by appearances! While these bloodsuckers are seemingly busy changing bedpans, waxing the floor at your office, serving up stacks of pancakes at Denny’s and standing in long lines to beg abjectly for “jobs’, they are all the while draining our hard-won and well-merited wealth. A tell-tale symptom of DES is that while moochers pay all kinds of sales taxes, payroll taxes and government fees just like the rest of us, they don’t pay any income taxes. Imagine! No income taxes! The DES sufferer will tell you that the absence of income tax obligations is somehow related to the moocher’s extreme deficiency in actual income. A likely story!
Moochery is the new leprosy. Its victims cannot be cured, but only isolated from the rest of us by being cut off from access to lobbyists, fund-raising dinners, Justice Department cronies, voting booths, think tank idea moguls, astroturfing consultants, and all the other instruments by means of which normal, healthy people influence the direction of government and society. They must even be cut off from access to regular, remunerative employment. Economists are now helping the cause by gradually redefining the natural rate of unemployment upward to take the profusion of unemployable moochers into account. It is expected that by 2021, the country will have become quite comfortable with workforce participation rates of 50% or less.
But what hope is there for the rest of us? If Degenerative Entitlement Syndrome can’t be cured, can it at least be prevented? Scientists now know the answer is – yes! And the urgently needed prophylaxis has lain within our grasp all along. A common, widely-sold product that is available to almost all worthy and non-mooching people with a respectable amount of money in the bank can keep DES at bay indefinitely.
What is this marvelous treatment? You might have noticed that there is an increasingly massive industry in our country that sells something called “financial products”. This industry now comprises close to 40% of our economy. What is a financial product, you ask? It is the most amazing, miracle invention known to humankind! You can buy one of these financial products and then just wait – go on a vacation, do your nails, play golf – while doing absolutely nothing productive. And when you come back you find that your financial product has disgorged free money! You don’t even have to water it!
Where does the money come from? Hardly anyone really knows! The person who sold the financial product probably doesn’t know; and certainly the person who bought the financial product doesn’t know. (A hysterical rumor has been spread that some of these financial products derive their cash flows from the work of some of the moochers themselves; but economists have now proven this manifestly ridiculous theory to be unambiguously false.) What we do know is that the money is 100% deserved. And that makes financial products the perfect barrier to fend off the DES virus and the onset of acute moochitis.
But what are financial products made of, you ask? What hidden quintessence produces these glorious emanations of lucre? So far as scientists have been able to discern, financial products are mostly derivative products that come from other financial products! And the best thing about these money-engendering financial products is that to buy most of them you are required to have a lot of money already. So the more money you have the more money you are able to get. Just buy a financial product, sit back and enjoy the spontaneous money ejaculations!
Financial products have been shown to have all sorts of salubrious psychological effects. Doctors have shown that the mere ownership of financial products causes their owners to develop extremely high levels of self-esteem and unshakable convictions of personal merit. Even though the owners of financial products might do nothing productive, they become resolutely convinced that the effort they put into deciding which financial products to buy is in itself a form of meritorious personal industry. The ability to buy and sell lucrative financial products with a rapidity exceeding the perceptual thresholds of naked eye vision is viewed by their owners as the most exalted of all human occupations. Also, staring into one’s financial products sometimes induces the same kinds of transcendent experiences and levels of higher consciousness others have attained from close concentration on mandalas and lava lamps.
The owners of financial products also develop contempt for the meaner and more productive occupations in life, which is no doubt good for their health as it makes them avoid all kinds of physical hazards, toxic industrial environments, and muscular stresses and strains (unrelated to golfing). Indeed, the shrewd owner of financial products acquires the belief that the very fact that their discernment is more keen than others, to the degree that they are able to bathe in fountains of money without expending the kinds of labor others must undertake to enjoy much smaller trickles, is proof positive of their ordained desert. The fact that others demonstrably lack those rare combinations of personal qualities that make a person a discerning purchaser of financial products, and so must work for a living instead, only convinces the owner of financial products that work is a barbarous vestigial habit of the undeserving undermasses.
But isn’t the psychological conviction that one deserves flows of money that are not derived in any measurable way from one’s own productive contribution to society, and that seem to come from magically reproducing money alone, a sense of entitlement? The effects of financial product ownership seem disturbingly similar to the moochachondriacal symptoms of DES, do they not? If I own some financial products and feel entitled to their monetary discharges, how do I know that I am not suffering from DES myself?
The effects may look similar on the surface, but don’t be fooled by these false positives in self-administered DES tests! Just as in the case of cholesterol, scientists have learned to distinguish “good” entitlement from “bad” entitlement. The technical names are “1-alpha entitlement” and “86-zeta entitlement”, but let us not be sidetracked by jargon. Bad entitlement is the kind of entitlement one feels when one thinks one is entitled to a decent life in exchange for a willingness to work to the best of one’s abilities, given the natural gifts one possesses, however meager, and given the opportunities for work that one’s society has offered. Bad entitlement is the entitlement of the DES-afflicted moocher. Good entitlement is that kind of entitlement one experiences from the assurance of one’s own cleverness in the buying and idle owning of financial products. (1-alpha entitlement is closely related to the other members of the alpha family of entitlement experiences, such as 800-alpha entitlement: the entitlement feelings that flow from having high SAT scores; and 10-alpha entitlement: the sense of entitlement that derives from being totally hot.)
As Martin Luther King said, “The course of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice!” If King was right, then there is no doubt that Willard Romney will eventually receive his just due from the world: a Noble Prize in medicine for his studies in the identification and treatment of Degenerative Entitlement Syndrome. He has already been nominated for other prizes, including the Eric Holder memorial Too Big to Bother lifetime prosecution exemption award from the US Justice Department. And yet, what if King was wrong? Well, Romney is already an accomplished virtuoso in the buying and ownership of financial products, so his real reward will remain the quiet, inward assurance of his own awesomeness, and the enjoyment of his 100% merited 1-alpha entitlement. Dr. King, on the other hand, is not known to have possessed any noteworthy skills in the acquisition and holding of financial products. So really, who cares what he thought?