Remember Julia? She was the Obama campaign's Web advertisement creation of a woman with an unfortunately Orwell-evoking name who finds true fulfillment through living a life enhanced by government programs? Conservatives charged that single mom Julia seemed married to the state, but whether or not the then and current incumbent's creation ever took the big step, she certainly lived a life of government dependency. But, according to some belated but still relevant number-crunching by American Thinker's Randy Fardal, a nation of Julia's would not only be unsustainable net consumers of government services, they would end up worse off than if they'd taken responsibility for their own lives.
Fardal writes up a lifetime cashflow for Julia in a 27-page study that gives similar treatment to an equally ambitious and upper-middle-class counterpart named "Freda," as well as an ambitious illegal immigrant with fewer educational opportunities named "Ileana," and an everywoman with less get-up-and-go named "Ankara" who started life as a so-called anchor baby. Freda, Ileana and Ankara all make a hypothetically available choice to opt out of government programs and get things done on their own without the blessings bestowed on Julia,
As Fardal writes:
A financial spreadsheet was constructed to model Julia's entire adult life, from ages 19-85. As would be expected, fictional Julia lives the comfortable existence that the president promised in his comic book. Unfortunately though, her federal, state, and local governments continue to pile up more debt and pension and healthcare liabilities in order to support her comfy lifestyle. In other words, upper middle class Julia not only contributes nothing to the president's social safety net; she actually consumes all of the money -- and more -- that she supposedly provides to fund it.
Fardal anticipates that Freda will do better, since he bestows his anti-Julia with all of the personal advantages of Julia. You would expect her to be a net contibutor since she's eschewing government programs. She also ends up with far more net worth at the end of her life: $3.8 million as opposed to $698 thousand.
The real contrast, though, comes with the proud everywoman Ankara, when set against the ambitious but dependent Julia.
I modeled Ankara to be an everyday clock-puncher that is not particularly creative, ambitious, or perseverant. She does not go to college, starts her career at minimum wage, and does not leave her employer to form her own firm. Her salary stagnates when she reaches her early forties. She's a female "Joe Six-Pack" stuck in a dead-end job. And like Freda and Ileana, she lives in a nation that allows her to opt out of all taxpayer funding for and benefits from entitlement and education.
Uh-oh. Even Ankara is better off without socialism than Julia is with it. Ankara was born into poverty, pays her own way for virtually everything, gets better service, contributes nothing to the national debt, and retires in the middle class. Her private-school educated son has a future much brighter than that of Julia's son. Ankara's son is likely to spend his adult life comfortably in the middle class and her grandson probably will do even better. That's real social justice.
Ankara ends her life with a legacy of $712 thousand.
It's certainly possible to take issue with some of Fardal's assumptions, including the various choices his creations could make over the course of their lives that result in specific costs and savings. But, he points out that if some people need a "social safety net," Julia, as a consumer of government services, is in a terrible position to fund such a backstop, while the others, as net contributors, could at least make it possible.
It's an interesting intellectual exercise, at least.
(H/T Lord Humungus)