I don't know why I do it. Every Sunday morning I wake up and start my day by watching the various Sunday morning political talk shows. Actually, I usually start by watching CBS Sunday Morning, which is good for the soul. It's information of an inconsequential but interesting nature that doesn't stress me out. It even ends with a brief serene nature scene, which puts a particularly nice cap on the program.
I then go and undo all of this serenity by voluntarily watching Meet The Press or one of those other shows, and get all agitated. I do this under the premise of staying informed, and I suppose that's a good thing, but jeez Louise, watching these shows always gets my dander up.
The big thing of late has of course been the debt ceiling negotiations, which has been just about the most repulsive bit of political theater I can recall. The upside is—or at least I hope this is true—that the insanity and inanity of those we've elected to represent us has been made abundantly clear.
This country has been in massive hock for a long time. We are swimming in debt, debt that will sooner than you think spell the end of our primacy in world affairs. It is absolutely imperative that we stop spending more than we take in in revenue. Unfortunately, that would have been a lot easier five or ten years ago than it will be now that we are already dealing with an economy in recession. However, because the people we elect are self interested noodle-spines, they didn't do it then. Though it's not just their fault, I'm looking at you, Republicans: You had both houses of Congress and the White House at the same time in the early years of this century, and you so-called fiscal conservatives spent worse than drunken sailors.
A reasoned approach would have raised taxes via a rate hike, loophole closures, or some other method, combined with real cuts (not fake Washington, D.C. Cuts, where a reduction in an increase is a cut) in government expenditures. This would by necessity include entitlement cuts as well as trimming the budget of America's newest Welfare Queens, the US Military. We'd need to raise the retirement age for Social Security for people like me who are decades away from retirement. Frankly, I'm not counting on the government to provide for me in retirement anyway, and neither should my peers. I've known since I was in my 20's that the Social Security trust fund was going to run dry right about the time I'd hit retirement age anyway, so I have no real expectation of it being there. Oh, well.
Everything I mentioned in that last paragraph is completely reasonable. I don't want to hear any whining from anywhere about “I'm taxed enough already,” or “Don't cut government programs that I like!” We're broke, so you're going to have to pay more to help gut us back into the black. And uh, we're broke, so you're going to have to suck it up and pay your own way for more things. Grow up, and get over it.
We've become such a bunch of bratty children in this country, where we stomp our feet if we don't get our way. Those cranky-pants types in the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party were particularly good at this during the debt ceiling negotiations, so good that one of the major bond rating agencies has lowered the United States credit rating. Well done! That'll help! Pay no mind to the fact that most of those “cuts” you held out so hard for are going to have to happen down the road, when a new bunch of shysters will be in office and take a look at your cuts and throw them out the window. The Dems are no better of course, refusing to face the reality that there are not enough revenues coming in to pay for their bloated federal transfer payment programs, so maybe—and I'm just spitballin' ideas here—we shouldn't have so many federal transfer payment programs.
The problem is not just with those people we send to Washington to represent us, though somehow we sure manage to pick some doozies for those jobs. The problem is more with ourselves. All of us, collectively ask—nay, beg—to be lied to. If two politicians are running against each other, and one tells you what I just told you (taxes must be raised and programs cut), while the other one says “This is Amurca, and I love the country enough to not want to raise your taxes or cut your favorite programs and if you love this country you would too so don't vote for that hater of free enterprise and/or babies and old people,” we'd all dash to the polls and make it the biggest rout in American political history.
That, however, is why I fear our demise is preordained. We don't want to take our medicine, we don't want to go to bed early, and we don't want to do our homework. Well, heck, I don't like the idea of paying higher taxes, and I'm sure I'd just as soon not see the government programs that I like cut. But “want” has nothing to do with it. We as a society have been following our wants for an awfully long time.
It's time for people to get on board with the idea of shared sacrifice. We'll get killed in the arena of telling people what they want to hear, but maybe, just maybe if enough people get on board we can make the painful choices that will ensure that liberty endures. This era of believing that we can get anywhere listening to the slick lies of slick liars has got to end. I won't be betting on it, though, because it's just so much easier to pretend we live in a fairyland where the consequences of being broke don't exist.