A scorching line in the lede of the new George F. Will column:
Connoisseurs of democratic decadence can savor a variety of contemporary dystopias. Because familiarity breeds banality, Greece has become a boring horror. Japan, however, in its second generation of stagnation is fascinating. Once, Japan bestrode the world, jauntily buying Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach. Now Japanese buy more adult diapers than those for infants.
Will is really writing about our democratic decadence. More:
Such promising economic indicators, however, mask the country’s democratic decadence, as explained by the Hudson Institute’s Christopher DeMuth in the Dec. 24 Weekly Standard:
Deficit spending once was largely for investments — building infrastructure, winning wars — which benefited future generations, so government borrowing appropriately shared the burden with those generations. Now, however, continuous borrowing burdens future generations in order to finance current consumption. Today’s policy, says DeMuth, erases “the distinction between investing for the future and borrowing from the future.”
It is now as clear as it is unsurprising that most Americans will be spared the educational experience of “fiscal cliff”-related tax increases and spending cuts, which would have been a small but instructive taste of the real costs of the entitlement state.
Somebody — was it Wendell Berry? — once said that a good definition of corruption is when you know what the right thing to do is, but you lack the strength of will to do it.