By Menckenís Ghost
July 22, 2012
American household has a net worth of $77,300, including home equity. And the
average American worker has an annual income of $45,800.
Each month I take about $4,000 from the
trust account of my 91-year-old Mother to pay the costs associated with her
care in a semi-private room in the dementia nursing center of a large nonprofit
retirement facility. That comes to
approximately $48,000 per annum, or about 62 percent of the average Americanís
In other words, average Americans would
be broke in less than two years if they were to end up in a situation like my
Momís. Actually, they would have been broke on the first day that they entered
a retirement facility similar to the one where my Mom resides. Thatís because the entrance fee was $90,000 in 2005,
when my Mom moved to the facility and began living in an independent living
apartment. The fee is much higher
today, due to the increased demand for such arrangements from retiring
guaranteed that my Momís monthly rent would always stay at the rate for an
independent living apartment, even if she would later need to progress, as she
did, to an assisted living apartment and then to the nursing center.
I hope that my Mom outlives her money,
but given the size of her assets, that probably wonít happen.
So why does my Mom have a lot more money
than the average American?
Is it because she and my Dad were
upper-class? No, my Mom worked as a clerk, and my Dad worked as a tile setter
and then a warehouse worker. Contrary to the conventional bull crap about low
wages of today, the wages in their days were a lot lower than now (in constant
Is it because she and my Dad came from
wealthy families? No, my Mom was orphaned in infancy, adopted by her immigrant
aunt and uncle, lived with them in a walk-up rental flat in St. Louis, and went to Catholic grade and
high school on her uncleís pay as a waiter. My Dadís parents were also
immigrants, and my Dadís Dad worked as a coal miner in southern Illinois and then as a barkeep in St. Louis. Somehow, my Dadís parents were
able to afford to buy a two-flat for cash and to send my Dad and his two
siblings to Catholic schools. (Hint: Back then, taxes were a third of todayís
Is it because, as Elizabeth Warren and
Barack Obama and other Ivy League nincompoops believe, the government provided
my Mom with certain public goods and public utilities? No, that belief is
intellectual excrement that is served in university classrooms and faculty
lounges. It doesnít take an Ivy League genius to see the fatuousness of the
thinking. If my Mom has money and others from the same socioeconomic
background donít have money, does that mean that the others didnít have access
to public goods and public utilities? Of course not.
answer is simple: My Mom and Dad lived below their modest means, saved money,
and invested wisely. The others
didnít because of The Great Moral
Like all moral hazards, The Great Moral Hazard has encouraged people to do
morally questionable things and engage in risky behavior that they wouldnít
have otherwise done in the absence of the Hazard. The
difference between run-of-the-mill moral hazards and The
Great Moral Hazard is that the latter is so widespread that it has bankrupted
the country fiscally and morally.
was created by the unholy alliance between academia, media and government. The alliance brainwashed Americans into believing
that they didnít have to save money because when they ran out of money, they
could take other peopleís money under the guise of social justice and
fairness. (Actually, no political or moral philosophy justifies this,
including the philosophies of Marx, Rawls, Rousseau and Hegel.)
If someone canít afford nursing care in
old age because of spending money frivolously on smartphones, big TVís, big ATVís,
$4 frappuchinos, $7 margaritas, lottery tickets, cigarettes, tattoos, expensive
cars, big houses, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, trips to
Vegas and Disneyworld, loose women, loose men, and thousands of other ways that
money can be wasted--then the person can get free care in a Medicaid nursing
home and be subsidized by those who saved money, including people like my Mom
and Dad, who didnít buy a new car until the floorboards rusted through on the
old one, and who invested 60 years of sweat equity in fixing up the dilapidated
1,000 sq. ft. house they bought in their youth.
In a similar vein, the same alliance led
Americans into believing that the government would bail them out with Social
Security, SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, earned income tax credits,
tuition loans, housing subsidies, and one hundred other social-welfare programs
and entitlements. They are going to
be surprised and angry when the U.S.
declares bankruptcy and throws them out of the government nest.
In the meantime, justice will be served
when those who succumbed to The
Great Moral Hazard end up in a depressing, dirty Medicaid nursing home in
soiled underwear with tubes up their nose instead of in a nice, caring place
like the one where my Mom resides.
Menckenís Ghost is the nom de plume of an
writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.