Here is what I see—I am not an economist, but I can balance a checkbook—and I have often had to say “No” to a good purchase (that would be ‘nice to have’) or investment opportunity (i.e., risk involved) because spending the money would drive me (and my family) too close to my “debt ceiling” leaving me no room for some emergency or truly essential unexpected expense. Parents are accountable for their fiscal management of family resources.
I just heard and interview on television about how to discuss family finances with everyone in the family. One statement really stood out: when children (teenagers) ask for money, “Children have to understand that ‘money’ is a limited resource.” Wonder if we can send that message to Congress?
There are, however, no real hard consequences to members of Congress when the Government fails to pay its bills. Hard working civil servants and even members of the military are laid off or not paid. National parks are closed. Representatives still draw their salaries, get their benefits, and go home on time. Some even travel home on Government-furnished aircraft. Most of them do not even get voted out at the next election—they simply blame the other party, and they all go to the club.
We Have to Pay!
We, the taxpayers will have to repay the debt. Perhaps our debt load would not be so great if we made a deliberate effort to identify and then elect fiscally responsible state and federal representatives. Personally, I think the Government is funding too many “nice to have” programs.
This country was founded on people, not on Government. A sound republican (note that is a small “r”) form of government requires the participation/involvement of its populace. The populace is made up of individuals—all of us citizens. The premise is a populace-selected representative form of government established for the common good. It also requires that each individual contribute to the maintenance and operation of the government. In effect, the Government is a service—serving the people. It is not intended to be a means and method for distributing wealth.
Here is what I fear: I fear we are precariously close to Federal government bankruptcy. And I believe it will take very deliberate and thoughtful action on the part of some very intelligent, politically courageous representatives in government to pull us back from the brink of collapse.
People (I think) do not want handouts, they want to live in an environment that allows them to work, grow, and build a life for themselves and their families. (Okay, so there are a few ne’er-do-wells, but we need not be creating more!)
I believe that our Federal fiscal picture is so skewed toward social support programs, that it would be almost impossible to balance the budget without causing severe hardship to some members of our population. Too many people currently depend on Government programs for financial support. We are going to have to elect a House of Representatives composed of individuals that are smart enough to devise a plan that will facilitate people working, earning money and contributing to our gross domestic product. We are going to have to convert federally assisted populations into self-supporting populations. We are going to have to turn this country around, fiscally, but in a carefully managed and guided manner (see “Ship of State” below).
So, another premise of our government should be the strong encouragement of individual initiative, allowing each person to work to achieve whatever level of success—financially, professionally, artistically, etc.—that each person is capable of achieving. The intent of government programs should not be to ensure that each person be able to achieve the same level of accomplishment, have everything that everyone else has, but rather that a combination of factors—physical capability, intellect, intelligence, creativity, initiative, responsibility, desire, even luck—help determine what each of us accomplishes in life. There will be individuals who will become famous or wealthy or powerful or successful—that is the goal of free enterprise. There will be others who, through no fault of their own, will struggle in life. The majority of us should be able to work for and live a reasonably comfortable middle-class life.
No one is entitled to a middle class life style simply because he or she lives in the United States. But they deserve to have the opportunity to work for any lifestyle they can achieve—that is why so many individuals try to get into the United States to work.
The Ship of State
Imagine a ship in rough seas so laden, in this case with debt, that it is running with its gunwales (the tops of the sides of the hull) only inches above the water, with more water is able to splash over the sides into the ship. (There are probably some leaks in the hull, too!) Proceeding straight ahead, it will gradually take on more debt and ride lower and lower in the water until it sinks. It needs to turn around toward calmer seas, but a sharp turn might very well cause the vessel to list so that it founders and has to sacrifice many passengers to even survive (I am reminded of the recent South Korean ferry tragedy—an overloaded, unstable vessel improperly maneuvered). A deliberate, controlled turn is needed that will allow the necessary direction change to be accomplished safely, and once turned, be able to begin to pump the debt overboard and stop the leaks.
We need leaders—a ship captain and crew—who are prepared to make the necessary, hard decisions to accomplish this maneuver, and set us on a safe and sane course.
Will it happen? I don’t know. Can we convert apathetic, entitled passengers into active crew members, prepared to help bail out the ship of state, through individual, personal effort?
I don’t know how much freeboard we have-—but I think no one knows any more than I do in this regard. And the magnitude of the catastrophe, if we scuttle this ship of state, will dwarf the decline of any other civilization in history.
Whether I am right or not, the people of the United States need to become alert and take charge of our government. And the best way to manage our government is to be an informed and conscientious voter. Keep in mind that the easy, least painful options may not be the best for the nation.
Study your history. Nero may be dressed in Congressional suits. (And if you know who Nero was, thank a teacher; if not, thank a meddling education bureaucracy more concerned with “standardization” than a functional education).
Call to Action!
Government is really our collective responsibility; it’s failure our fault! Start bailing and caulking!