Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Surprise For My Readers!

It will come as a surprise to most of my readers that I am not inherently opposed to having the government provide "affordable" health care, housing, higher education or generous subsidies to spur a "green revolution." And I am even willing to accept multi-billion dollar corporate bailouts and our role as the great "nation builder" in the middle east. My opposition to these programs is one of accounting, not ideology. To put it simply, our efforts to simultaneously pursue all of these goals is leading us towards national bankruptcy.

One of the first lessons of economics is that resources are scarce, thus we must prioritize and make painful choices that involve difficult trade offs. This lesson is obvious to individuals and families that must pay their bills every month and strive for financial security, but apparently not for most politicians. Because, unlike the federal government, you and I do not have the capacity to print money and borrow endlessly from foreign governments. And with few exceptions, politicians are more generous and reckless in spending your money on themselves and their constituents than you would be.

One major factor, among many, are the costly adventures in warfare and nation building, largely initiated by G.W. Bush and his neoconservative cohorts. Yet, overall I am more skeptical of the capacity of progressives and liberals to make painful choices and compromises that are necessary in re-establishing a sound fiscal path. This is not because they lack intelligence or good will. This stems from several interrelated facts. First, as worthy as they may be, most of the social and economic initiatives that they deem necessary are extremely costly. Second, the majority of progressive individuals support the simultaneous pursuit of their entire platform, rather than prioritize in the face of fiscal limitations. For example, in a relatively brief period of time, the majority of politicians who pursued costly health care reform, also backed the stimulus plan and cap-and-trade. Compounding this tendency is the fact that progressives tend to form "coalitions of yes," special interests, that are held together by the understanding that they will simultaneously support each other's pet programs and policies, irregardless of the fiscal ramifications. Before you choose who to vote for, ask yourself which candidate will help your community and nation live within its means or push us closer to financial insolvency; everything else is just details.

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