Will voices some hope for America, none for the Cubs

By Christy Mullins
331-4266 | cmullins@heraldt.com
April 27, 2012

George Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist on politics and national best-selling author on baseball, would not predict Thursday who will be the next president of the United States.

But he did say this: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was his top choice.

At Thursday night’s annual fundraising dinner for Ivy Tech Community College’s O’Bannon Institute for Community Service, guest speaker Will said he was disappointed when the Republican governor called him last May and said he wouldn’t run for office.

“Since then, I haven’t had a dog in this fight,” Will said.

About 400 people attended the dinner at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center. A large handful clapped in agreement.

Will spewed voting statistics, minority percentages and political trivia throughout his hour-and-a-half-long speech.

His message, overall, was grave.

Every 10 seconds, the United States government goes more than $500,000 into debt, he said. To put that into perspective, Bill Gates could write a check worth his entire network of assets, and “he still couldn’t even pay two months’ interest on the national debt.”

Will said that’s because American families have adopted the spending habits of the American government. Spend, and see what happens.

Home equity loans, too many credit cards, and overspending have put the American economy in a lost era, Will said. “Americans can’t separate the pleasure of purchasing something from the pain of paying for it.”

Will said Americans have become too dependent on government, especially Social Security and Medicaid. He used Ida May Fuller, the first American to receive a monthly benefit Social Security check, as an example.

Fuller had worked just long enough and had paid a total $22 into the Social Security program.

“Then, in an act of recklessness, she lived to be 100,” Will said. The woman collected more than $24,000 in Social Security benefits before she died.

“Social Security was never designed for a world like this,” where people live longer and the money doesn’t last, Will said.

He also decried the nation’s tax code, calling it “codified envy.”

“Envy is not fun,” Will said. “It’s the only one of the Seven Deadly Sins that doesn’t give the sinner even momentary pleasure.”

Still, Will said, “Things, I think, are going to get better. We are not Bangladesh. We can get better by choosing to get better. We can get better by choosing to make better choices.”

In a question-and-answer portion, one Ivy Tech student asked Will if an associate’s degree is enough to get a job in the current economy.

Will suggested staying in school.

“Two hundred years ago, the source of wealth was land. We essentially gave it away,” he said. “Today, it’s human capital … education. Get some loans and stay in school.”

Another audience member asked Will if he would ever run for political office.

“No, never,” he replied. “A, it would cut into my baseball. B, I’m too old. C, I live in Maryland. Only three other Republicans live there.”

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan asked whether the Cubs would ever win the World Series.

“The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 — that’s two years before Tolstoy died,” Will said. “No, no, it’s hopeless.”

Ivy Tech’s O’Bannon Institute for Community Service kicked off Wednesday with an awards program and continued into Thursday with a volunteer day for students, faculty and staff.

Today, the community college will host panel discussions with political analyst Cokie Roberts in the Ivy Tech Bloomington Student Commons.

Judy O’Bannon, left, and Ivy Tech Chancellor John Whikehart, center, listen as George Will talks about the books he has on his cellphone. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.