Let me start out by saying I am all for us going over the fiscal cliff, but only if we do so like Wile E. Coyote. Just keep walking until we realize the ground is gone, then fall in time with a slowly fading whistle until we hit the ground and leave a USA-shaped hole in the ground. Maybe there will be a trampoline at the bottom that we can burst through instead of bounce on. That’d be awesome.
Now, there is certainly something to be said of those who want compromise. They have their hearts in the right place, and frankly, we should be able to come to agreements in governments, because history shows us that not everything is black and white when it comes to policy. Reagan reduced taxes and a recession came. Clinton raised taxes and the economy bounced. Those two historical examples would indicate to some where the Republicans should go next, but in reality, they were freak accidents.
Traditional economics tells us that in an economic downturn, you don’t raise taxes. Life experience tells us you don’t spend more than you have. But our country does just this, and looks to do it again before January 1. It is odd, isn’t it, that we have people yelling at the Republicans to compromise, as though they were the only ones at the table who could give away something in exchange for another. Last I checked, the Democrats did not hold all the cards.
But, House Republicans are surrounded on all sides. On one side, a Democratic White House and to the other side, a Democratic Senate. However, this does not mean they are defeated. The House is required to pass the aversion to the fiscal cliff we are staring at.
It’s a tad ironic, don’t you think, that the same president who is driving us toward a fiscal cliff is the same one who told us we needed to put the “car” in D, not R. Now, he wishes to find a way to change directions without putting it in R. His choices? Left or Right. To the Left, more of the same policies that have brought us to the cliff. Rampant spending and incredibly creative methods of taxing Americans. To the Right, cutting the spending and changing the tax code. But the president and the Democrats advocate the Center… Which keeps the car in D, or just parks it, perhaps. Nothing will change. Or, worse, he is content with us sailing over the cliff, like some deranged Duke of Hazzard screaming at the top of his lungs that the rich should pay their fair share.
There are three major talking points in this discussion. The first is the military cuts, or sequestration. The second is taxes going up. The third is government spending.
We can afford, as a nation, to reduce the size of our military without affecting the scope of its power. There are plenty of people smarter than me who acknowledge this. The idea of the traditional military is something that has to evolve, given the evolution of most of the enemies we as a nation fight. Non-State Actors are the primary concern, and guerrilla groups include not only them but government-controlled groups, as well. However, it should be noted that the method of funding should not be changed, and by that I mean a budget should be constructed around the military’s needs. The military should not be built around a budget.
The second talking point, tax hikes, is something else we need to realize won’t kill us. Yes, it will hurt the economy, even if it is just hikes on the rich. It is still considered an economic sin to do that. If you were do let all the tax cuts expire, we’ll then you’ve really messed up, haven’t you? Well, again, this is something g America can survive, in all honesty. We’re still the biggest economic engine and China, despite their economic growth, will not overtake us all that soon. It’s not ideal, but we can survive this, too.
The third talking point, however, is incredibly unsustainable. Government spending has grown tremendously and continues to do so, with or without a deal on the fiscal cliff. For the country to spend what it does without even considering how far into debt we’ve sunk is absurd.
A lot of the talk centers around what we commonly refer to as “entitlements,” social programs that give money to those who need it. Medical coverage, money for those who no longer have jobs, money to simply tide you over until you can get back on your feet. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with these programs. It is the abuse by a growing number of those who do not need, but still receive these benefits that constantly drain the government coffers. Our initial reaction is to simply increase the amount of money going into the government coffers, but that brings us to a big problem: what makes the average American citizen responsible for those who have grown addicted to being taken care of by the government?
“It’s the right thing to do,” is the response we most often get. There are many out there, too, who truly do not believe that a portion of society is content with the government taking care of them. They accuse those of us who make that claim to not care about the poor, or worse. I usually counter this with a very, very sad story a teacher friend told me once. Teaching in a low income area, this teacher deals with some very talented students nonetheless. During some downtime, the students began talking about college, when one of them said that being a full-time student in college meant you lost food stamps. Another student immediately chimed in, saying if that were the case, they wouldn’t go to college.
A child is fully willing to give up on a possible future just for someone else to take care of him/her. That is what we ultimately have to treat in this country, though this is probably another topic of conversation for a later date.
You will never hear me say we need to cut off these benefits completely. It cannot and will not be done. What we can do, however, is adjust our formulas. Find a sliding scale for social security that determines the age you can receive those benefits based on life expectancy, etc. Create programs that provide incentive to go out and work, not keep drawing benefits. Find a way for people to receive medical care that doesn’t break the bank of the insurance companies and the taxpayers. It cannot be that hard to do. It shouldn’t be, either.