I don’t claim to be perfect. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I know where my weaknesses are. There have been more than a few times where my actions have been in stark, vivid contrast to what I said I believed. However, over the last few years, I have been working on this and now make the self-conscious effort to operate under the principle that I should live in conformity to my stated philosophy, worldview, and creed. There are still times I slip, but they are fewer, farther apart, and easier to recover from.
Any American who can read the signs knows that this country is in some serious doo-doo. It would be easy to start listing the reasons why, but I really don’t have the time or space to hit every one. Besides, it’s a lot easier to hit a far-distant target with a rifle than it is with a shotgun. Therefore, I’m going to focus on one target and fire one bullet.
Can anyone say Republicans?
Before you start attacking me for being un-American, charging me with treason, or questioning my salvation, let me say that I don’t have any love for the Democrat Party. Or the Libertarian, Green, Communist, Nazi, and People’s. All of them are full of people who espouse one set of beliefs, but act another way when it’s convenient. And beneficial to them, I might add. For the record, my political views are most closely aligned with the libertarian viewpoint, but even within this so-called bastion of liberty and freedom, there is what I can honestly call rot. But that’s for another time.
Let’s get back to the Republicans. We are told over and over again that Republicans are the party of fiscal conservatism. They are the ones who are most concerned about government spending, the deficit, American debt, etc. We hear that they will restore the country to financial sanity if we just vote them into office and give them the power to work it out. Election cycle after election cycle, ad infinitum, until it makes us sick to hear about it one more time.
Right! And pigs fly too!!
There was a time where the acronym NIMBY (not in my back yard) was used frequently, most commonly with reference to building nuclear power plants. We don’t hear it much anymore, but the spirit of NIMBY is alive and well. This fits in well with the dominant attitude so prevalent in America today. Cut! Cut the deficit! Cut government spending! Don’t, however, even think about cutting my own special interest. Go ahead and cut somewhere else, but not in my back yard. You can protest as loudly as you want, but with respect to this topic, the Republicans are as bad as the Democrats.
Consider Chris Christie, for instance. Governor of New Jersey. Conservative. Republican. Sweet Darling of the Right. Presumed shoo-in for the Republican Party presidential nominee in 2016, 2020, or beyond if he should decide to run. Yet, how fiscally conservative is he anyway? Think about what he said and the way he acted because John Boehner (another fiscally conservative Republican) failed to expropriate sixty billion dollars to bailout all of the “victims” of Hurricane Sandy. You can read his comments here.
Let’s think about this for a moment. This country is in the worst financial position that most of us have ever seen, up to our eyeballs in debt with no end in sight. The deficit grows larger every minute. So does government spending. Economically speaking, any sane person would say that we really need to call a halt to it before it destroys us. Supposedly, the Republicans represent sanity, but that’s not what is being manifested. We have a “fiscal cliff” to avoid, yet one of the leaders of the Party of Fiscal Prudence and Budget Restraint screams bloody murder when his ox is gored. Surely, Mr. Christie, you can see the light here, can’t you? Or are you listening to your constituents who scream bloody murder because their ox has been gored. Perhaps Christie is looking ahead to the next election where he can “honestly” say that he brought home the pork, $60, 000, 000, 000 worth, to be exact. Perhaps the voters of New Jersey will be so grateful they will put him back into office for another term. Perhaps the country will be so enamored of his generosity that he will be compelled to run for President next time and save us all from our own disasters.
Perhaps it really won’t make any difference. After all, with budgets running four trillion dollars plus and growing, deficits in the range of sixteen trillion plus and growing, long-term entitlement commitments (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) estimated to range from $100- 200 trillion dollars, 60 billion is a drop in the bucket. The question is, however, where will it end and who (or what) will put an end to it? Certainly, if Chris Christie has anything to say about it, the end won’t come on his watch.
This reminds me of King Hezekiah. You can get the full story in Second Kings 20, but for our topic, the following quote is sufficient.
“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord. The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
“The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”
Ah, yes, now we’re getting somewhere. Peace and security in my lifetime. Prosperity too. Who really cares what will happen when I’m dead. What difference does it make if my grandchildren have to pay through their noses so long as I get what I want? Life is too short to be painful. After all, as John Maynard Keynes so famously put it, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” For those who aren’t familiar with Keynes, he’s the fellow who convinced governments everywhere to start deficit spending. Today, he’s dead, but his legacy lives on, like the Hydra which can’t be killed and we’re all paying for it. Unfortunately, not all of us are going to die before the Babylonians roll into town.
I’m realistic enough to know that I’m not going to change Gov. Christie’s mind. I won’t be able to convince John Boehner to stand firm and refuse to write any more bad checks. I can’t persuade Paul Ryan to start producing budgets which actually work. But I can change how I think about the way I live and I can stand on my own feet without expecting that the taxpayers and citizens of this country will bail me out as soon as it gets uncomfortable. Furthermore, if I pull back my outstretched hand and convince enough others to do the same, it might be sufficient to make a difference. In the long run. In the short run, we’ve already gone off the “fiscal cliff.” That little blip of a show the other day was simply an outcrop we smashed into on the way down.
Whether we want to or not, we’re going to learn what it’s like to be taken off the teat. It’s past time to be weaned. It’s time to grow up.