Fiscal irresponsibility shackles families and future generations
By Richard Nelson
When I was growing up, my parents often told me that money doesn’t grow on trees. It was the usual response to my impulse for a toy, or some other non-essential item, while shopping with them. My parents, after all, were on a budget, so they prioritized and spent only what they could afford. It was a lesson that sank in as I grew older.
Unfortunately, it’s a lesson that’s been lost on a generation of politicians.
Within the past 90 days, the federal government has been spending money like its growing on Washington’s back forty: $1.5 trillion to “stimulate” the economy, a $410 billion “omnibus” spending bill and a proposed $3.5 trillion budget (1/2 trillion more than last year). Altogether, we’re nearing $11 trillion in national debt.
It’s enough to make your head spin and my calculator explode, which, by the way, only computes up to the tens of millions.
Too many of our leaders have discovered that deficit spending, while bad for future economic health, works well for their re-election chances. This is the grown-up version of the spoiled kid in the store who gets what he wants no matter what the cost. It doesn’t do much good for the relationship, but it sure does keep the kid quiet; at least until the next visit to the mall.
Throw in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and total future U.S. obligations are huge, unthinkably huge—especially in light of millions of baby boomers on the verge of retiring.
So who’s going to pay for all this? Our third president Thomas Jefferson once said, “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” And this is today’s swindle: politicos weaseling into public office by delivering benefits and contracts to special interests and charging it to generations not yet born.
When CEOs do business this way, they go to jail. When politicians run our government this way, they somehow get re-elected. It’s like Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme cloaked in respectability.
More and more citizens are waking up, as evidenced by the Tea Parties held across the nation last week, and are seeing through the political diversion. American families, the most important shareholders in the government, are tired of seeing bridges built to nowhere. They’re fed up with pork and earmarks that patronize narrow special interests at the cost of the national interest.
Washington’s promise to solve every problem is getting old, and tolerance is growing thin for irresponsible politicians who are masters at shifting blame, while at the same time fully responsible for shackling future generations with insurmountable debt. And the criticism is bipartisan. (It was President Bush who popularized federal intervention in failing companies with a $700 billion bailout just before he left office.)
There are some in Congress who really believe they can spend their way out of the recession. This is like a shopaholic trying to spend themselves into prosperity with the help of a MasterCard. The only thing that prolonged deficit spending has ever done for a nation is to destabilize the economy and bring on inflation for working families and their children.
America’s families deserve a chance at freedom, and the next generation has a right to pursue happiness without paying for the excesses of this one. Somebody needs to tell Congress that the game is up. They should stick to expanding freedom and liberty and stop jeopardizing our economic future on the altar of their political ambitions.
Even first-graders know that money doesn’t grow on trees, and you can’t always get whatever you want.