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Monday, September 29, 2014

WHY DO THEY PROTEST OVERMUCH?

"“If it was supported by employees SEIU wouldn’t need to invest $38 million in the campaign"

I think that one of the best signs that something is unbelievably wrong with American culture is that, during one of the worst periods of unemployment in the nation, a time when a bulk of the people who can actually find work are doing part time labor, there are protests that McDonalds doesn't pay its employees enough.
Its difficult to even imagine someone being that completely out of touch with economic reality and the problems on the street, but here we are.  Now, I understand that their thinking is a bit... different than most people.  They see people in need and not getting good jobs and think "the evil corporations are to blame, they should pay more!" 
I mean, it worked in Chicago; the already well-paid teachers there ($76,000 a year plus benefits on average) went on strike during an economic crisis for the state of Illinois when they were plunging rapidly into deeper and deeper debt.  And they got a raise!  But then, they did it during a presidential campaign which involved a Democrat from Illinois, so the machine wanted that problem to be quieted down and put away.
This time, its just amazing to behold.  These people are ignorant enough of how business and economics works to not realize that nearly doubling personnel costs for a business will not cost jobs.  Or, they have a different motivation.
Looking deeper into these protests you find some very familiar faces.  The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is there every time.  They are organizing the protests, printing signs, handing out shirts, and paying people to stand in picket lines.  Originally formed to be for public sector employees (i.e. those which work in government jobs), the SEIU is branching out.
They see a huge opportunity for labor to expand its power, wealth, and influence by unionizing fast food employees.  McDonald's is a big, easy target with lots of places to picket and a high profile.  Its easy to get on the news by protesting McDonald's, especially when the news directors and editors are generally sympathetic with the cause.
SEIU hires PR firms, manpower organizations, and other companies to get their message out and so we get these irrational protests.  SEIU employees are paying dues... so that their union can pay PR firms... so that they can try to get fast food employees onto the union.  How exactly this helps the public employee that pays these dues is a question that none of them seem to be asking.  See, that's what dues are paid for: to offset the costs of helping employees, not create new markets for the union, hire publicity and protesters, and donate to politicians.  At least in theory.
So how do they hope to gain?  What is their game plan here?
Well I don't know the inside thinking but the SEIU isn't stupid.  They may be leftist ideologues, but they know that if they push labor costs to 15 bucks an hour, McDonald's is going to start automating more and eliminating employees.  They cannot stay open paying that kind of wages, even if they push the Big Mac over 8 bucks (like it would have to be raised just to stay open).  And customers of McDonald's would not pay that much for fast food.
Now, if you're a leftist, you consider this a good thing - those poor people would be forced to eat better! - but that's not how it would work.  Even assuming poor people could afford to get better food, they'll just go to a different fast food company, one that isn't unionized and can sell 99 cent burgers.
And if you're a leftist you're probably yelling about the greed and riches of franchise owners.  They make so much, they can get paid less, and pay their employees better!  Stop swimming in your vat of money, Scrooge McDuck!
Well, that's misguided as well.  The National Employment Law Project, a left-leaning think tank did a study of franchise owners across the nation and what they came up with was not what they expected or wanted to hear.
“Fast food franchisees themselves are in many cases unprofitable,” NELP said in a May report on franchising.

A 2012 Franchise Business Review survey of 4,000 franchise owners found that the average franchisee earns a little more than $82,000 per year. However, that figure may be misleading. The report found that more than 50 percent of small business owners earned less than $50,000 in 2011—less than the median U.S. income on the year—while one in three owners earned $25,000 or less.
Some are getting rich, but many are not and some aren't making money at all.  In fact, you don't have to be fabulously wealthy to start up a franchise.  With loans and working with the company you can do it for less than you'd think.  According to HowStuffWorks, McDonalds has this kind of structure:
Your total costs to open the restaurant, however, will be anywhere from $685,750 to $1,504,000, which goes to paying for the building, equipment, etc. Forty percent of this cost has to be from your own (non-borrowed) funds. You'll pay an initial franchise fee of $45,000 directly to McDonald's.
You can borrow 60% of what it takes to start up your franchise, and it can cost less than a million dollars.  That's certainly a lot of money, but these days, its not exactly super rich.  And making an average of around 80 grand a year might sound a lot to someone living in Scio, Oregon, but its barely enough to get by in Manhattan.  Certainly someone who owns and runs the company, putting their own cash on the line and facing the entire business success by their own efforts deserves at least that much.
So its not like these guys have huge sacks of cash they light cigars with, money they can easily spare to help pay employees more.  Fifteen bucks an hour is around a 50% increase in pay, and that doesn't include the matching taxes that employees must pay, plus other related expenses (insurance, etc).  Taxes and fees such as Social Security alone cost an employer about an additional 10% extra.  The average personnel cost for a McDonald's is about 35% of its annual income.  Employees are the number one cost for a restaurant - and almost every business.
Multiply that times the number of hours the average employee works, times the number of average employees working at McDonald's and that more than eliminates the entire franchise earnings the average McDonald's owner makes in a year.  In other words: the owner literally cannot give that much up.
This is why analyses such as one at Huffington Post which claimed a Big Mac would only go up about 68 cents are such trash.  They are written by people who have virtually no clue how the business world works and miss all the personnel costs a company has to carry.  The real cost is unknown but it could be as much as $5, and that's even if some employees are replaced by machines and expenses are slashed.
So what on earth is the SEIU thinking, I ask again?  Well I suspect they are using high pressure tactics.  They are shooting high, knowing that will never happen.  What they intend to do is make it so unbearable for McDonald's that the company has to sit down at the table and start negotiating with employees.  But the employees can't all sit at the table, so they will need representatives - the SEIU - who will make deals.
Their goal is to get a small raise, unionize the entire McDonald's staff, and get a huge influx of dues from the million or so employees in the US alone.  Will that raise be more than the dues?  Doubtful, but hey, who cares, the SEIU isn't about the employees any more than another union.  Imagine what they could do with all that money from all those fast food employees!  Why, its another vacation house for the union bosses and more money to pour into Democrat political election funds and groups such as Planned Parenthood's coffers.
Because that's not all they have in mind.  The left is faced with two choices: admit their economic policies suck, or distract people from how bad they are and try harder to make them work.  Instead of changing to policies to encourage creation of better-paying jobs, their scheme is to force jobs that exist under their policies to pay more!
And as has been abundantly demonstrated, private sector unions are dying.  Steven Greenhouse writes at the New York Times:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the total number of union members fell by 400,000 last year, to 14.3 million, even though the nation’s overall employment rose by 2.4 million. The percentage of workers in unions fell to 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the bureau found in its annual report on union membership. That brought unionization to its lowest level since 1916, when it was 11.2 percent, according to a study by two Rutgers economists, Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin.
People are coming to the conclusion that paying dues to corrupt fat cats to misuse while gaining no benefits is a stupid waste.  Why unionize?  All they do is take your money and give you no benefits.  The SEIU is in the only booming union sector in America: government employees.  And they want to expand, baby.
So this is what you get: pressure that will result in loss of jobs for an expansion of power, to try to get failed and idiotic policies to somehow work, while giving unions more money.  Those people standing in the picket lines, at least the ones not paid under minimum wage by the SEIU to stand around with signs and chant, are suckers.  They are only thinking "I want more money" and they're just very useful idiots for the ones behind the scenes.
But by all means, blame the corporations.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

ALL THAT STUFF

"Does he still stand for truth, justice, all that stuff?"
-Perry White, Superman Returns

The Communists in Russia must be gnashing their teeth in frustration and dismay.  If only they'd held out a little bit longer, they must be thinking.  Their ideological efforts and continuous work to undermine the west finally took fruit, mere decades after the humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European bloc.
It has to be amazing for them to see how quickly and completely their efforts have taken root in the United States.  Things that were completely rejected and even mocked have become common knowledge and are stated by the highest politicians in the land.  Things once understood to be absolute truth are not showered with contempt and taught as lies by the education system.
But there's also a chance that the collapse of the Soviet Union as an enemy allowed their ideas to flourish where they would have before been blocked because of their origins.  It has long been a source of annoyance to me that while Nazism is rightly condemned as a horrific ideology of monsters, Communism is treated as historically flawed but noble and positive. 
At their roots, both worked out extremely similar in economic and social effect, as I've written before.  Nazism was heavily socialist and Communism never was implemented, only tyrannical socialism as a "precursor" to the inevitable change over that never took place.
Its bizarre to see in my lifetime how swiftly the transformation of culture took place.  In just under a decade, the reversal is almost complete.  You can see it take place by watching long run TV series back to back on services like Netflix.  The first seasons of shows like Law and Order were strongly American and had a basic Judeo-Christian foundation, unashamedly showing portrayals of faith not only without criticism but usually as positive.  Today, they openly mock and attack both concepts.  You can see in shows such as Criminal Minds the shift in ideology that took place between 2004 and 2006, where suddenly America was bad and everything that ever went wrong originated in Republicans and the religious right.  Its almost like there was a deliberate, agreed upon switch in worldview.
There are some basic leftist concepts that people often agree to now without even being aware of their origins.  All of these came from hard core Communist/Marxist/Maoist thinkers.  All of them were openly and undebatedly Communist in origin and used to be immediately identified as such.  All of them are becoming cultural norms today (many taken from this site, courtesy American Digest):
  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
  • Religion should be only internal and have no impact on culture or others 
  • The purpose of education is to shape politically useful citizens
These aren't even debated any more in many places.  Merely questioning them is treated with a shower of contempt and rage by some people, particularly in academia.  They form such a foundational worldview for many people that they aren't even questioned, where as just a few decades ago they were the doctrine of the enemy.
All of these can easily be traced back to revolutionary Marxist thinkers such as Gramsci and the Communist Party in USSR, which - according to KGB documents and testimony - were being pushed in the US by paid agents of the Soviet Union. Their theory was that if you were able to undermine basic American ideology, the strength of the nation - its "can do" attitude, its rugged individualism, its praise of ambition and achievement, and its rejection of authority undermining liberty could all be rotted from inside and eliminated, leaving only an open door for Communism to flourish.
Communists figured out early that they were going to get no foothold in America until that basic American Way was demolished so badly even Superman comics would be ashamed to mention it.  Until that core of Americanism was gone, they came to understand that Communism would never, ever get a foothold and that inevitable "revolution of the working class" would never happen.
Now, an objective observer might have said "well guys, it looks like they found another way and it certainly seems to be working" but for these Communist thinkers, it was religious zeal, not logic that ran their thought processes.  If another way was found, then it was a bad way by definition for being different than Communism.
So this was the effort, and the bits listed above (among others) were the tools to bring this about.  They didn't even have to be true or believed, they just had to be effective at undermining Americanism as a worldview.  All those trappings of Judeo Christian heritage, all that objective, absolute thinking, all that individualism and can-do attitude had to be cleared away for subjectivism, subservience to the state, and dependence.
There aren't many people who are even aware of that history or the purpose.  There never were.  There were many "useful idiots" who went along because it felt right, or was more comfortable for them personally - daunted by independence and ambition.  And for many, it was simply a way to get along with their colleagues, who were glassy eyed in their zealotry.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

MEALS AT HOME

"Good food, good meat, good God, lets eat"

A few days ago I wrote about an article in Slate that bemoaned having to make your own means, and reflected on an attitude that seems to be growing in popularity in America, at least.  That idea is that being required to do basic work to have the things you need is some kind of cruel imposition, or even an immoral cruelty.  I have to work to eat?  How dare you!
And in the Slate article, Amanda Marcotte rejected the value and importance of the home-cooked meal eaten together as a family.  She noted a study that suggested its so stressful to cook at home that you lose any potential heath benefits over eating out.  She claimed that the idea of the home meal is "romanticized."
This is nonsense.  I agree that cooking a meal can be stressful and frustrating - the hardest part for me is coming up with the menu, since I tend to put it off until the last possible moment, focusing on other things.  If I plan ahead, its just smooth sailing.
But the stress is more than offset by sitting down at a table and eating good food.  There is something special and healing about sitting down with loved ones to share time and a meal together, especially with a loving family that shares their concerns and days.  The regularity, stability, and predictability of this time together can be incredibly soothing.  Just being surrounded by people who care and love you for a few minutes is relaxing, even if things get troubled.
The TV show Blue Bloods has a regular feature each episode of the Sunday family dinner.  There are conflicts and confusion and problems, but that coming together is a binding aspect for the family and is a rich tradition that is very good for all the people involved.  You can sense the togetherness even when its a rough dinner.
I don't have any lab studies or sociology degrees, I don't have any psychological test cases or books.  I only have my personal experience growing up and eating dinners with family, I only have the wisdom of the ages, and the other families I know that had this blessing, and I know that the food nutrition is only a small portion of the benefits cooking a home meal and eating it together brings.
But that original article was more than simply a complaint about effort to gain reward or the misery of cooking a meal.  Amanda Marcotte, well worth a giggle much of the time, actually brought up some legitimate concerns.
WEARY MOM
First off she pointed out that working moms don't have a lot of time or energy when they get home to deal with kids and cooking a meal.  So bringing home something or ordering out, or throwing a can of goop in the microwave is all they have left to offer.
And this is a genuine, legitimate problem.  Ideally, one parent (usually mom is best) staying home to care for home, children, and deal with things like meals is the way it should be.  That means that parent is able to give proper attention and focus to everything that needs doing and won't be too exhausted to get a meal ready.  But that isn't always the way it can be.
These days many parents are alone, whether divorced or never married.  Many parents work, because the expenses of life are so high they feel that they should.  Now as I've argued (and shown data) in the past, this isn't necessarily the case - often it is not necessary for both parents to work - it can be, and I would not be so arrogant to declare that any specific family shouldn't have both parents working.  You know your situation, I don't.
There are some solutions to this, though.  If at all possible, the other parent should be home around the same time to help be with the kids and help out otherwise.  The kids can help out, by doing some prep work in the kitchen such as setting the table, organizing ingredients, and if old enough chopping and measuring.  Children should be considered resources for the house, not simply customers.  If you teach them how to cook from youth, they'll be better able to survive on their own later.
Kids can start getting things ready while mom or dad changes and deals with the little ones, takes a shower, etc.  There are usually steps that can be taken before the actual tough part (or dangerous part such as using the stove) needs to be done, and youngsters can pitch in for that.  Yes, at first they'll be bugging you constantly with questions and need supervision, but they'll learn and grow in that, too.
Having everything ready and organized helps a lot too.  A clean kitchen workspace and everything put away in the right spot each time makes a very significant difference.  As I noted above, a menu prepared in advance means you don't have to figure it out as you cook; that's a major stress reducer right there.

COST
This is where things get a bit... weird in the article.  Ms Marcotte claims, based on a report, that low income houses can't afford to cook at home.  Now I can understand that seeming so if you shop at Whole Foods or the local boutique market in upper east side Manhattan.  Those microgreens and specialty cheeses don't come cheap.
But the truth is, its always cheaper to buy raw ingredients and cook them yourself than to buy prepared and especially restaurant food.  You're providing the labor, rather than paying for it.  And there are shops that are significantly cheaper with quality food which are readily available.  I know, Ms Marcotte would sooner vote Republican than shop at Wal*Mart, but their groceries are actually quite good and quite cheap.  Other shops can be even cheaper without sacrificing quality.
Buying raw materials such as beans, rice, flour, eggs, and so on to make your own food, from "scratch" is always significantly cheaper than buying a can of the same food.  Rendering your own stock from bones and scraps left over from meals is much cheaper (and better) than buying stock in bottles or boxes.
Yes, the trade off is time and effort, but if you're poor, then that's the trade you have to make.  That is part of why being poor sucks: you can't pay for shortcuts.  You have to do it yourself.  And in the end, it is better for you anyway.  Even fatty foods cooked at home are healthier than processed, prepared foods packed with chemicals and colorings and stripped of nutrients, sugared, and thrown in a microwave.  Yes, that little microwavable cup of soup is easy and fast, but costs like ten times as much as making the same soup yourself - with the kicker of being worse for your health.
And while she has a minor point about cooking supplies such as cups, bowls, etc... that's not a very valid concern.  Relatives and friends will likely have extras, and you can go to a thrift store or shop like Dollar Tree and pick up what you need dirt cheap.  It won't be the finest stuff available, and you'll long for the wonderful supplies Alton Brown suggests on Good Eats, but again: poor.  You make do.
COMPLAINTS
Now here it just gets ridiculous.  The moan is "someone always complains."  Well guess what bucko, those someones complain when you get the meal at Applebee's too.  That's just a fact of life, if you raised kids that complain.  Its one thing to say "wow you oversalted this" but kids that whine about food need to be taught to be respectful of the effort involved, thankful for the food prepared for them, and keep their whining to themselves.
Yes, that's a process, and it takes time.  Yes, its frustrating as a cook to put all that work into things then get a complaint.  That's life, people have a right to voice their concerns, and maybe if you listen closely you'll learn something and do it better next time.  They need to learn to complain less, and you need to swallow your pride more, but while you can't change them you can change you.
There is a class of complaint that is a bit tougher to deal with, and I wrote about that a while back in my Depression Era Survival Kit series.
However, you'll find out that what you make tastes... different than what you're used to paying for. That Campbell's Condensed Soup tastes different than your version. And that's a good thing, it tastes better, but for some people that difference is odd. For a child raised on prepared foods and fast food, cooking from scratch won't be quite right.

For one thing, its not as sweet: fast food joints especially adds sugar to their food. For another, the food lacks preservatives, flavor enhancers, coloring, and other things that palates have become comfortable and familiar with. That burger you cooked on the grill looks different than a McPatty. That chicken Kiev you made isn't a perfect, neat little bun. And that can throw people, particularly young people.

It will take a while for you to get used to the stronger seasoning, more complex and subtle flavors, and distinct texture of food prepared right. That's worth learning. Some people - most perhaps - take to it instantly. Some long for their Totino's Pizza. But once you get used to the good stuff... its really hard to go back.
So its a bit of an uphill climb if you've been bringing home Subway for years and then start building food on your own.  Young people who have been raised on Chef Boyardee will think real pasta is awful; they aren't used to the complex flavors, more delicate layers of seasoning, and lack of corn syrup.
They will, though.  It just takes time.  And its important to remember that the younger (or very older) someone is, the less their palate can take strong flavors.  They have to be given something a bit less bold and flavorful.
Also, your family will find it likes or doesn't like some kinds of food.  My mom used to get brussels sprouts for a vegetable until she learned that not a one of us liked the things, even herself.  If nobody likes liver and onions, well then why make it?  And we have to make sacrifices; make food you don't like sometimes, and do without stuff you love, if your family genuinely doesn't care for it, after trying it out a while.
Ultimately, home cooked meals are ideal; they are the best way to eat and its cheaper than buying your food prepared or cooked for you.  And you have to make decisions for your life of priorities and what matters most. That bag of salad costs you as much as the raw materials to make ten salads, is a few minutes of chopping that much of a horrific burden?
Almost always, people who complain that things take too long don't actually mean that the duration is excessive.  They aren't making an objective statement of effort vs reward.  What they mean is "this takes time away from what I would rather be doing."  And you have to again consider your priorities; does playing Gears of War or getting on Facebook really trump a good home cooked meal?
Because I kind of doubt it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

EFFORT AS SIN

"We rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn’t complain about the food they were served"

The latest demand by some groups is that women get not just birth control but feminine products like tampons for free.  Essentially, their argument is that women are unfairly burdened with needing these things since men don't need them, so men should pay to give them what they require.
This is one more in a long line of demands for free things that we've been flooded with, each only "free" in the sense that individuals feel no cost upon receiving them, but pay in advance in taxes.  Each new demand stretches the definition of "necessary" and "rights" until its become almost self-parodying.  You can barely come up with a satirical version of events fast enough to be ahead of the actual demands.
There was an article written recently by a somewhat obscure feminist writer at Slate named Amanda Marcotte.  She's managed to get attention occasionally by writing ridiculous, self-important diatribes such as how no man is worthy of her and are all scared off by her wonderfulness.  This recent piece was rebelling against the idea of cooking:
The home-cooked meal has long been romanticized, from ’50s-era sitcoms to the work of star food writer Michael Pollan, who once wrote, “far from oppressing them, the work of cooking approached in the proper spirit offered a kind of fulfillment and deserved an intelligent woman’s attention.” In recent years, the home-cooked meal has increasingly been offered up as the solution to our country's burgeoning nutrition-related health problems of heart disease and diabetes. But while home-cooked meals are typically healthier than restaurant food, sociologists Sarah Bowen, Sinikka Elliott, and Joslyn Brenton from North Carolina State University argue that the stress that cooking puts on people, particularly women, may not be worth the trade-off.
Now, its one thing to say "man I just don't like to cook" or "I feel that I don't have time or energy to cook a meal" but no, her position is that home cooking is a terrible burden.  She is not opposed to cooking a meal, she's opposed to home cooked meals as a concept.  Its not just a burden but wrong to home cook.
She's not completely wrong in the article; it is true that often modern kids are whiny and complaining, and that its tough to cook a meal if you work all day.  And it is true that its tough to get your cooking done if you can't get adequate raw materials together.
However, her example "cook everything with one device and wash the dishes in the sink" is hilariously first-world problemy.  Oh the horror of having to hand-wash your dishes!  Inconceivable, where is Guadalupe to load the dishwasher for me!  How can I face the day knowing that I must cook my food in a single unit instead of having eighteen different devices on the counter to choose from??
Not having pots and pans is a matter of being ill prepared for the role you've taken on.  Its like complaining that now you are a baseball player, you don't have a bat or glove.  Maybe you should have gotten that stuff together before you took on that role.  But even if somehow a home and child came upon you by surprise, cheap stuff is available at thrift and Salvation Army type stores, and usually older family members will have extra supplies to offer.  You can get basic supplies at the Dollar Tree for a buck each.  Get them slowly over time.
But the idea that its cheaper to buy takeout or delivery every meal than supplies and raw materials is utterly and shockingly ignorant to the point of rank stupidity.  I get that Ms Marcotte probably shops at Manhattan boutiques for her microgreens and Kobe beef, and her idea of a grocery trip is being driven to Whole Foods but surely she must be aware that other, less expensive options exist
And ultimately it seems to come down to this philosophy: that effort, that personal difficulty is not simply something we may resent, but actually wrong.  That it is bad to strive or work, that having to do something to get what you want is morally incorrect.
More and more this seems to be the attitude.  For many of the people involved in the idiotic, repulsive "Occupy" movement, paying your school loans was thought of as an evil thing.  How dare you expect me to pay for my schooling!  Mommy gave me everything for free!
The attitude that if something is difficult and stressful it should not be is becoming more and more a cultural presumption.  Not something people wistfully think of, but something that people presuppose - its a basic assumption of life, something unquestioned and certain before each situation even arises.  You expect me to work for my home, my car, my clothes, my vacation?  How dare you, sir!
This goes beyond childish, where kids just assume things show up for free, and have no concept of the interplay between personal effort and reward.  It is the attitude of generational aristocracy, its the kind of thinking of Marie Antoinette.  People are acting like they are all lords in a feudal system, and that their mere birth demands they be attended to and given what they desire.
Yes, much of life sucks.  Yes, many times you work hard for little reward.  Yes, most of what you get in life requires a lot of trouble and sorrow.  If this was a game, people would rightly complain that the risk and difficulty of the quests does not gain an adequate reward.
That is how life is.  Wishing that away or demanding government fix it will not make that go away.  It is not possible to demand away reality, no matter how much you close your eyes and stamp your feet.  Every once in an extremely rare while, someone gets a lot for little.  But this presumption that not only we should get rich quick and easy, but that it is morally wrong to not do so... what on earth kind of life are you living?
It is, I fear, an inevitable consequence of how more than one generation of young people has been raised, however.  Each time you try to raise children away from difficulty, failure, disappointment, or realizing their limitations, you raise a generation unable to comprehend the basic truths of life and reality. 
And when faced with those truths, they throw a tantrum, camping in the streets, tearing up parks, demanding more and more and more.  And those who want to seem like they care, those driven by emotion and concern more than reason and fact will stand beside them and call for Something To Be Done (especially if it means more money and power under their control).
And crass politicians, knowing they can rely on votes from these perpetual toddlers, will side with them as well and come up with program after program spending other people's money to make it seem like it comes true.