In light of the fact that President Obama is set to deliver a State of the Union Address tonight that most believe will focus on continuing the progressive narrative and 2012 re-election slogan that “rich people don’t pay their fair share of taxes”; I thought it was a wonderful moment to share a few words about a book I’ve just finished reading that explores this “have-nots versus haves” mindset from a rather unique perspective.
In A Nation of Moochers: America’s Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing (St. Martin’s Press), author Charles J. Sykes asks the threshold question “Have we reached the tipping point where more Americans depend on the efforts of others than on their own? Are we becoming a nation of moochers?”
To answer that question, Sykes explores the current political and cultural environment – everything from Wall Street bailouts and entitlement programs to government-run health care and corporate tax exemptions. The book, while an urgent plea for a return to personal responsibility and self-determination, is anything but a work that completely dismisses the need for “compassion” and a safety net for those less fortunate. It simply suggests that any effort to address those concerns should be based on “needs” rather than “wants.” The author aptly states that “some” may very well find themselves in “need” of assistance; but things like government-paid-for electric vehicles are anything but “needs.”
The highlight of the book for me was a very simply stated but absolutely brilliant “Abbreviated History of Mooching.” Therein, the author describes the devolution of personal property that has resulted and continues to be threatened at the hands of government and those who aim to take from the haves and redistribute to the have-nots. Using the story of the “farmer” who harvests his crop to feed his family and sells the excess at market – thereby further contributing to society through commerce, the author explains how the strategies of moochers have evolved over time – ever increasing their grip on a share of the farmer’s property. Detailing the encroachments of the “early moocher”, the “feudal moocher”, and the “modern moocher”, the author charts a sobering path to a day when the “farmer” simply disappears and gives up on his labor; rather than watching the fruit of said labor be taken away and distributed between his neighbors and the government that purports to serve him.
As most of you probably know, I don’t endorse or even review very many books. There is just so little time and usually by the time I get around to reading them, a review is anything but timely or appropriate. A Nation of Moochers finds itself in that rare class for a number of reasons but none more influential than the fact that it was written in both an academic and comfortingly conversational tone. Accordingly, it is a fantastic read for the political scholar in search of a new perspective on the age-old problem of socio-economic leveling; or the causal reader frustrated with the entitlement culture in this country and fed up with working to earn an honest living while “moochers” sit idly by and collect government handouts on their dime – or dollar.
About the author: Charles J. Sykes is a radio talk show host at WTMJ radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; a columnist who has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today and the CNI Newspaper chain; and a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. He is the author of five previous books: A Nation of Victims, Dumbing Down Our Kids, Profscam, The End of Privacy, and 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.
His two latest posts…
A Nation of Moochers: America’s Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing can be purchased here… or here…