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There’s a story that circulated the Internet in 2008 about a third-grade class that held a mock presidential election to teach the children about the real election. Two kids – Jamie and Olivia – were selected to be candidates.

Jamie’s speech was a thoughtful analysis of how he could make the classroom a better place if he were elected. He received enthusiastic applause.

Olivia’s speech was more concise. “If you vote for me, I will give you ice cream.”

Needless to say, the class went wild. Upon further questioning, Olivia could not explain who would pay for the ice cream. The class didn’t care. They were 9 years old, after all. They just wanted free ice cream.

Apparently Olivia didn’t care who would pay for the ice cream, either. All she cared about was getting elected. She expertly manipulated her classmates, dancing them like puppets on strings. She knew she could make empty promises, give no accountancy of how those promises would be kept, and win. She was right.

Does this sound familiar?

One year into his administration, Obama has become an expert at manipulating his childish classmates … er, supporters. He promises an endless stream of ice cream with no accountancy of who will pay for it beyond a vague “tax the rich” mantra.

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I believe an ice cream mentality is a sign of immaturity. We expect third-graders to vote for free ice cream because 9-year-olds don’t understand economics. But mature people know that someone must pay for the ice cream. This is known as TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As a Free Lunch. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s you and I – the hardworking citizens of this country who are desperately clinging to whatever employment we can find – who will be paying for the ice cream, along with generations of our descendants. And, I might add, receiving very little of it ourselves.

John Stossel’s column “Hurtling down the road to serfdom” explains the obvious: “If government relieves us of the responsibility of living by bailing us out, character will atrophy. The welfare state, however good its intentions of creating material equality, can’t help but make us dependent.” This, Stossel adds, shouldn’t be controversial. Or as I’m fond of saying, it ain’t rocket science (except perhaps to liberals).

I know someone with an ice-cream mentality. “Charlie” has been unemployed for the better part of a year, entirely from lack of trying. His “ice-cream benefits” (unemployment) kept getting extended and extended and extended. We’ve tried hinting that Real Men don’t take government money if they can help it; they get whatever job is available. But he’s immune to the digs and is only now starting to look for work because his benefits are about to expire.

The sad part is that ice-cream benefits are often superior to the benefits of working. Charlie knows he makes more from unemployment extensions than he does from just about anything else, so he is not motivated to seek out a job that might pay less, especially with the pickings so slim. Besides, with free ice cream he also has unlimited free time to go fishing. What a deal!

Robert Ringer writes, “The fact is that when people say they can’t find a job, what they often mean is they can’t find the job they want, at the wage they want, under the working conditions they want – which means that high unemployment is, to a great extent, a result of workers simply refusing to accept low-paying jobs, preferring instead to live off of government largesse.” He adds, “The free market really does work. It’s just not the way progressives would like it to work.”

According to the Tax Foundation, 60 percent of the population now gets more in government benefits than it pays in taxes. In other words, 40 percent of us are paying for the other 60 percent to go fishing. Does this sound like what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created a nation for independent, self-responsible people? (To give a hint to ice-cream recipients, the answer is NO!!!!)

Obama was elected on his promises of endless ice-cream benefits. If we all agreed to whatever “changes” he promised, we could eat all the ice cream we wanted for free.

But the rest of us know the ice cream must be paid for. We know there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Someone has to produce the raw ingredients, manufacture it, package it and deliver it to stores. It’s all these behind-the-scenes invisible hardworking people, working quietly and without fanfare, who ensure that everyone else gets the fruits of their labor. For “free.”

But there will come a day when the demand for free ice cream will supersede the ability of those invisible workers to provide it. And when that day comes, there will be a severe shortage, and people are going to start screaming in protest. “I want ice cream! You promised me ice cream!” They’ll start jumping up and down, stamping their feet in a temper tantrum: “I want ice cream, I want ice cream!” There will be riots in the streets as people swarm around demanding that someone give them ice cream because, hey, they’re entitled to it. They were promised it. It’s a right.

And here’s the thing: They were promised ice cream. Little children that they are, they don’t understand economics enough to know that ice cream isn’t free. It’s significant that the states in the worst financial condition are also the most liberal, largely because of massive public programs. In other words, these states provide lots of free ice cream.

I fear a day of reckoning is coming when it won’t just be the availability of ice cream that dries up. It will be a whole lot more. Our benevolent and generous government will be so deeply in debt that we will implode under the cheerful, happy – but entirely immature and unrealistic – promises of free ice cream for all.

God help us when that day comes.

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