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Politicians are turning the United States into a nation of chumps. It won't end well.

In progressive circles, “justice” doesn't mean fairness or evenhandedness; it describes a world in which every problem is the fault of some entrenched power group. Therefore, every solution should involve both special aid for the victims and some sort of punishment for those who created the problem.
James B. Meigs

What happens when folks are rewarded for not playing by the rules or following the social norms that keep society functioning?

It turns the rest of us into chumps.

What happens when it happens too often?

Well, people get really angry. More people start cheating the system.

People just come to the conclusion that the system isn't fair and it isn't worth participating.

Those are things pointed out in this splendid essay at City Journal: “The Chump Effect.”

The one effect that it doesn't address, though, is the possibility that a society could suddenly tilt from a law-abiding one where it's the norm to pay your taxes and fees, to one where only a chump pays his taxes and fees.

That side of the Chump Effect was touched upon in this Econtalk podcast episode: “Michael Munger on Crony Capitalism," in the context of Chile and Argentina.

“If you don't pay your taxes in Chile, other people think, 'Well, you're a terrible person.' And if you do pay your taxes in Argentina, people think, 'Well, you're an idiot. You're a chump. Nobody does that.'

Argentina hired soccer players and actresses to go on TV and do ads about how you should pay your taxes. They had to pull the ads within two weeks, because all of the actors had not paid their taxes.

"There's two different equilibria. One is, everybody does the right thing, and if you don't do the right thing you are a bad person. The second equilibrium is: Nobody does the right thing, and if you do the right thing, you are an idiot. I worry that the second one is the one that we're tending towards."

“Equilibria.” That's a crucial concept. It implies, properly, that once you tilt to one side, it's very hard to tilt back to the other.

In the world of outrageous political proposals and actions described in the City Journal piece–from allowing riots and turnstile jumping, to forgiving student loans and other debts, to bailing out Wall Street firms–I fear the United States is quickly veering to the Argentina equilibrium.

When that happens, we will have a very, very different culture and economic system.

One that may look like Argentina and produces men with the world outlook of Pope Francis.

We don't need that.