“America is the only country ever founded on an idea. The only country that is not founded on race or even common history. It’s founded on an idea and the idea is liberty. That is probably the rarest phenomena in the political history of the world; this has never happened before. And not only has it happened, but it’s worked. We are the most flourishing, the most powerful, most influential country on Earth with this system, invented by the greatest political geniuses probably in human history.” — Charles Krauthammer
Krauthammer may be right about the US, even twenty five years ago. But the US has now gone further than any other Western country in encouraging free-riders. It has allowed the very wealthy to opt out of the obligations of citizenship altogether. Income from capital is now taxed more lightly than income from labour, the rich now pay a lower rate of tax than school teachers. Massive multinational operate from small islands with low tax rates, rather than in the western countries in which they operate. Moreover, the rich effectively dictate to their own political party with massive funding (involving inevitable quid pro quo’s) and are deaf to the dangers facing the country: global climate change, a chronically expensive healthcare system with the worst health outcomes in the world, the rise of China, and a failure to balance the budget when the economy was operating at capacity before the corona virus appeared.
This is glaringly obvious to anyone who keeps up with the news. Yet huge swathes of the voting population seem unaware that they are being ripped off – politically, financially and morally, and seem content with it, still living in the past.
Were Epicurus among us now, I suspect he would consider moving to a country with a less toxic political system. Peace of mind was, after all, his principal objective.