The Great American Sell-Out

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U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol (Photo credit: afagen)

Both political parties are selling out the American people, and many Americans are quite happy with that. The budget deal included some tax increases, but those are not as much of a concern as a refusal to cut spending. The same massive deficit spending characteristic of the Bush 2 administration and accelerated beyond anything the country has seen under Mr. Obama will sink the children and grandchildren of Americans. The Republican Party does not have the courage to support massive spending cuts because they are more concerned with staying in power than doing the right thing.

Their fear may be justified. Americans showed that they would support someone who kept bringing in the “benefit” dollars–it is the typical attitude of most (and I mean to say “most”) contemporary Americans: “What’s in it for me?” As if that attitude is not bad enough, most Americans have the view that “I want from the government what helps me and to hell with my children and grandchildren.” Massive deficit spending cannot be sustained long-term–that is basic economics which anyone but an academic can understand. The problem is not as much political ideology as it is old fashioned selfishness. As Americans retreat into their individual worlds, the fate of their children (if they have them) becomes immaterial to their own lust for “free stuff.” Of course there is no “free stuff” that the government gives the people–that money comes from taxes. The United States sells treasury bonds to China and Japan (its main customers) which are only as good as long as the United States can pay up. So far it has, and billions of taxpayer dollars have paid the interest in the national debt. Printing more money to pay off higher deficits will only lessen the dollar’s value.

Apocalyptic books are popular these days, as is speculation about apocalyptic scenarios in real life. Although I am not one of those who store barrels of grain in my house, I understand the concern. Congress and the president will not stop massive federal spending, and when the day of reckoning comes (through China calling us on our debt, a massive loss of value of the dollar, or some other deficit-related catastrophe), it will not be pretty. The 2007 recession (which continues today despite what the mainstream media with its Obama-worship says) will look like child’s play. Now ideological liberals may think that’s a good thing since income distribution will be leveled out. To a liberal ideologue, it would not matter if the United States becomes a third world country. I do not believe most people in Congress want that, but their refusal to discipline themselves is going to damn the country to economic disaster. No money can be spent without the House of Representative’s approval. People in the House need to take their fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards seriously. Conservatives need to vote people into Congress who mean it when they call for federal spending cuts. Those in Congress who refuse to accept fiscal responsibility should be voted out.

I am doubtful that will happen–it seems that most Americans’ characters have been corrupted regarding fiscal responsibility by their own greed and selfishness, by their wanting something for nothing. The American people are being sold out, and only a few voices “crying in the wilderness” speak against the sellout. Ultimately, republics tend to disintegrate by their own hands. The hands of most Americans are wrapped around the fiscal throat of the United States, and they refuse to let go. Sadly, amputation via economic collapse may be the only way to teach them hard lessons about economic reality.

The Nanny State and Big Government

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Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to four term...

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Many Americans (not all, thank God) are spoiled. They don’t mind selling their children and grandchildren to a world of financial ruin as long as they are comfortable. They desire benefits from government without understanding the cost. So the nation is in debt to a degree that would have been unimaginable even under the free-spending George W. Bush administration. How did the country get into this mess? How did the traditionally hard working American people turn into a group of soft, spoiled brats who believe the government is there to give them things?

The problem started with the Great Depression. Instead of allowing the private sector to correct the economic downturn, as President Harding did in 1919, first President Hoover, and to a much greater degree President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tried to end the Depression with massive federal intervention. Despite the claim by liberals that the New Deal helped to end the Depression, unemployment was high up until the boom due to World War II. Artificially inflating wages led companies to lay off more workers, which led to less spending, which led to more of an economic downturn–it was a vicious cycle. The jobs programs, to give them credit, resulted in fine roads and beautiful buildings, but did little to lessen unemployment. But as permanent federal benefits were put in place (even though there were state benefits such as old age pensions so that older people were not left destitute), Americans increasingly saw the government’s function to give them things–at first jobs, later money, health care coverage, and other benefits.

Even after Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy continued Roosevelt’s federal benefits, federal spending after World War II was generally under control. Eisenhower balanced the budget three times. But the largest expansion of the federal government in history took place with Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.” Medicare, Medicaid, federal housing programs, and huge expenditures on welfare only made worse the public attitude that the government was a “nanny state” whose function is to take care of people’s physical needs. Programs that would have done more good at the local level were in the hands of distant bureaucrats, and a permanent underclass dependent on welfare payments was created.

But the government has also been guilty of corporate welfare. The unholy alliance between business and government began with the Whigs’ strong support of the new industries springing up with the Industrial Revolution and continued with the Republican Party’s alliance between the federal government, the railroads, and the banks. It was mainly the tension between the industrial North and its alliance of government and industry and the agricultural South that led to the War between the States (slavery, which was supported by the majority of the public in both the North and South, was not the primary issue over which the war was fought). Industrialism triumphed, and the unholy alliance led to numerous scandals beginning in the Grant administration. Today people vote for the presidential candidate and congressional candidates whom they believe will improve the economy. This is also a position that the government can give the people things–this time, a sound economy. Although some government regulation of business is required because people are not saints, the revolving door between big business and government officials only makes matters worse. Overall the economy tends to move in cycles that are only predictable in part due to their nature as dynamic, chaotic systems. The government can do a lot to help wreck the economy, but generally what it does best beyond essential regulation is to stay out of business. But people believe that one of the chief roles of government is to guarantee a good economy–and voters become prostitutes. It is just as bad for voters on the right to “vote their pocketbooks” as it is for voters on the left to vote due to their desire for more government benefits. But between the two, I prefer the right–at least they recognize that government does more harm than good to business.

Americans need to realize that concentrations of power and money tend to corrupt and tend to bankrupt. There are only so many resource available for people to share, and the government cannot keep spending at the rate it does on benefits and job programs (and defense!) without the Chinese eventually calling the United States in on its debt. When that happens, God help us. Perhaps then families will realize that they must work for themselves and for the good of their local communities instead of receiving handouts from a nanny government. They may have no choice. The sad thing is that such a scenario may be a good thing–it may be the only way to restore virtue to those in the United States who have been spoiled by a sense of entitlement.