Some time ago I posted a musing on whether or not it was time to think about the word “sacrifice” again. In the interim, I have not only become more certain that it is, I have noted the incredible dearth of the political types being willing to address the issue.
A few weeks ago millions of people turned out to vote for one thing – an end to the tyranny of debt. I know many of you will say I am either being simplistic in my assessment or downright ignorant of the real forces. You might even correctly point out that I have been decrying Citizens United V. FEC since August of 2009 so why the weak reading of the election? I agree, but allow me this little indulgence. I stand by my first comment based upon what people tell themselves regarding their votes, and I doubt you will find many who will tell you they just don’t want to see a black family in the White House.
So if the national debt is the reason for the ouster of many a Democrat and the installation of increasingly myopic Republicans I think it is fair to ask “How will we trim the debt?” Really, how do we get the debt to go down, how do we lighten the tax burden on the overtaxed, how do we encourage productivity and what happens if we don’t do these things?
Let’s take a 30,000 foot view of where we are.
As you can see it takes but a few short moments for the counter to move by a million dollars. Perhaps not much, you say, in this age of trillion dollar debts (that’s a million million if you’re keeping score), but in my family accounts, it is substantial. This little counter has to stop before we can hope to reverse it. And reverse it we must, because as they say in DC, a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon its real money we’re talking about.
So even though the vote has been taken (I actually started this post late November) and the decision has been set in stone, the issue hasn’t changed. We need to stop spending money we don’t have at levels we can’t support over the (not so very) long run. We need to put more money in the government coffers and get the government to spend less of what we put there. How do we do this?
First, increase receipts by the government. This must include more than just personal income taxes, although that’s a given. Sorry folks, but the “tax cut” ~ really just a continuation of a temporary tax holiday ~ has to end. I know that won’t happen for two years yet, but start thinking about it now. And before some right winger comments here (yeah right like I ever get read by those types!) know that my income as a business owner is generally high enough that I pay into the top brackets. But an even better way to speedily increase receipts would be to end or at least modify the disasterous “free trade” policies which only benefit the investing class. And please don’t tell me we all benefit by cheaper prices at Wal-Mart. If you still drink that kool-aid there ain’t nothin’ I can do for you. Do you realize that from the birth of this nation all the way through the start of WWII the majority of the cost of government was paid for by tariffs? Make trade fair and not free and the combination of these two things will go a long way towards getting the monkey off our grandchildren’s backs.
Next, there has to be a cut in spending. Everything, and I mean everything has to be on the table. Here is where sacrifice becomes the watchword of the day. We do have to cut entitlements. There is no choice here, because we spent this money for our benefit (or at least for people who are currently alives benefit). I don’t want to see a lessening in Medicare or Social Security but the sooner we face up to the fact that we are seriously tattooed drunken sailors the sooner we will dry out and get back to the business of sailing the ship of state. We have to make real cuts in current and future benefits.
Most importantly, we must rethink Empire. We must pull back from military bases in 200 countries around the world. If we think that threatens our security we need to rethink security. A generation of killing Palestinians has not made the Israelis less hated. But a generation of the Marshall plan made a much more prosperous world where being American in a foreign country only meant you were mocked for the way you dressed. Aid in the form of food and technology is much more effective at turning hearts in a positive direction than drones blasting wedding parties.
I will post more on this subject in the coming months. I am only hoping to start a debate now and perhaps hear a few fresh ideas. This is really a post from 30,000 feet. As we zoom in we will find ourselves facing the “blue tarp blues” but we will also see opportunities that one can’t see this far up. But if you think just taxes or just spending cuts or just technology will make a better country for your grandchildren please don’t bother to comment. I won’t delete you if you do, but you’ll just be telling everyone how little effort you are willing to make to solve the one crisis around which all other crises of our day revolve.