Why is it more moral for a federal bureaucrat in a state-supplied SUV to shut down an offshore oil rig on grounds that it is too dangerous for the environment than for a private individual to risk his own capital to find some sort of new fuel to power his government’s SUV fleet? All affluent societies believe that they are just too rich not to be able to afford another regulation, just one more moralizing indulgence, yet again an added entitlement. But as we see now in postmodern America, idle 250,000 acres of farmland for a tiny fish, shut down an entire oilfield, put off a new natural gas find in worry over possible environmental alteration, add a cent to the sales tax, mandate yet another prescription drug entitlement not funded, or offer yet another in-state tuition discount to an illegal alien — and the costs finally equate to an implosion as we see in Greece or California. And as we know from past collapses, a new entitlement in a matter of minutes becomes an institutionalized right whose withdrawal causes far more anguish than its prior nonexistence. Justinian learned that when he sought to cut the civil service and almost lost his throne.
Victor Davis Hanson’s article, Why Does the Good Life End, published in Pajamas Media 9/25/11.
Each addition to our collection of friction costs that impedes growth and progress is justified in isolation, but the accumulation grinds the economy to a halt. “Every snowflake pleads innocent, but it is still an avalanche.” (paraphrased from the quote by Polish writer Stanislaw J. Lec)
Europe is collapsing from the accumulation of policies over decades, just as our progressives have the long sought opportunity to emulate them.