Thursday, February 19, 2009

Washington Post editorial writer George F. Will spoke at Cameron University tonight in conjunction with their centennial celebration. Will said that America is in danger of subsidizing failure with the current attitude in Washington of bailing out private industry. Will pointed out that most Americans have an "entitlement" mentality. "When the government begins to think they can distort the genius of the free market, we are going to see a dependence agenda," Will said.

Will pointed out that in the last decade Americans rate of savings is now negative. He pointed out the average credit card holder has nine cards and the average credit card debt in America is $12,000 per household. Will said both liberals and conservatives want to return the the 1950s, but for different reasons. "Conservatives want to return to the life style of the '50s, and liberals want to work like it was the 1950s," Will said. "Liberals want to return to the days of Big Labor," but those days are behind us," Will said.

"We have a crisis in the welfare system in this country for two reasons. The population is aging and by the year 2030, the average age in America will be greater than the average age in Florida now," Will said to a laughing crowd. He pointed out that the increased life expectancy and increased amount of money spent on health care are the two reasons the welfare system is strained. "We spent just six percent of the our GNP on health care in 1960, but that is now 17%," Will said. "Twenty three percent of Medicare patients have one or more chronic illness and 46 out of every 100 dollars spent on health care in our country is government money," Will said.

Turning to the IRS, Will pointed out the top five percent of America taxpayers pay 60% of the nation's taxes. "The bottom 50% pay only 3% of the taxes," Will said. Quoting Oklahoma's favorite son, Will Rogers who once said about the correlation between death and taxes, "Death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."

Contrasting the difference between what constituted wealth, Will said 200 years ago, that was land. "A century ago, wealth was defined by industry- steel, railroads, manufacturing," Will said. "Now it's human capital-education has become the wealth of our current society," Will said.

Defending capitalism and free markets, Will said that after WWII, a great example was conducted on the European continent with the division of Germany. "We had one section advocating Collectivism and the other Capitalism." "We survived and they didn't, Will said. "Capitalism does not just make us better off, it's makes us better," Will concluded.

Will answered several questions and when asked about his recent "dinner meeting" with President Obama, he declined to reveal what was discussed. "I facilitated the meeting with President Obama and several conservatives to promote civility in Washington. I believe to divulge what was discussed would be counterproductive to what the objective was," Will said cagedly.

Will was engaging, gracious and funny. A huge fan of baseball, he included in the lecture a couple of stories about Major League managers. When asked if he wanted to be the next MLB Commissioner, Will answered, "My good friend Faye Vincent is the current commissioner and he can stay as long as he likes."

I purchased Will's new book, One Man's America, and he inscribed it. I also got a fuzzy picture with the writer. It was a great evening and the one hour lecture was informative and educational. I commend Cameron for bringing George Will to Lawton and to the McCasland Foundation of Duncan for sponsoring the event.

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