“LIVING WITHIN YOUR MEANS” is a familiar concept and easy to get behind, but does it mean that in our private lives we should never borrow in order to recover from illness, or start a business, or to fix damages to our home?
The new republicans, particularly the tea party type, argue for drastic cuts, without accounting for the impacts on the middle class and the poor, or the risks to our economic recovery.
“Enough is enough,” they say … we will borrow no more to advance our future, nor will we ever consider asking the wealthy to make sacrifices in order to pay for our wars, or to undo the harm from the recent financial industry meltdown.
Regarding maintaining the tax cuts to the wealthy, they argue: It is THEIR money and we are not giving the wealthy anything they haven’t earned and deserve.
But have the wealthy truly earned their wealth independent of our infrastructure or American laborers?
Government programs can’t be trusted and are socialistic, they say … these are just ways to give our hard-earned money away to the poor, and restrict the growth of private businesses with excessive regulations.
By excessive regulations, do they mean child labor laws, or that our country is best served by not restricting a paper or power company from polluting a river?
Not stated in public by elected republicans, but evident in the right-wing talk show rhetoric: the underlying theme is that Goverment is evil … and that it’s agenda is give our tax dollars away to the lazy, undeserving …
(Be aware that zealots can provide cherry-picked webcams examples of government workers behaving badly, … but they will not mention how may stings they had to do to get ONE example (3, 6, 12, 100?) … aware that the mainstream media will never ask this common sense question, or mention that any group could be deamonized with such methods, including doctors, police, politicians, nuns, … corporate executives)
Citizens, let’s not forget the government programs have built this nation – and continue to provide vital services to protect our health and safety, but also to protect consumers from unethical business practices (credit card abuses most recently), and to provide infrastructure essential for private-sector economic activities:
The Interstate highway system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, the FDA, the Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal, public school teachers, the US Postal system, and so on.
Yes, while not solvent, it controls costs better than the private insurance sector (without excluding or pricing out the sick or the elderly as the private insurance industry is free to do); further, it has administative costs equal to 2% of total program costs; Most private insurers are around 20%. Source: http://bit.ly/erkmWY
Why do you suppose the health insurance industry so vigorously opposed a pubic option? Answer: It was aware it could not compete with it on a level playing field.
For politicians cynical about government programs, we might remind our dear elected representatives (who have guaranteed tax-payer provided health care for life) that they are also government workers, as are our soldiers in Afghanistan and our teachers in the public school system.
So the responsible way to address the growing deficit crisis is to make sure the government programs are chosen wisely and are operating efficiently (we are getting our money’s worth) – that they serve the intended purpose, and that the purpose still sustains and protects the public interest.
We might ask the following questions of ourselves and our leaders:
What “self-made” entrepreneur could succeed today without an electric grid, a clean water supply, an effective transportation system, or a literate and skilled work force?
What patient could surive if not for the independent review of drugs to make sure that drugs infused into our blood are safe and effective? Should we just let the companies market foods and drugs if they safe or not .. and tobacco?
How could any of us expect to receive adequate fire, police, and childhood education services without government programs and workers?
What citizen or business could thrive in chaos - without a strong defence provided by our service men and women?
So yes, we really must always strive to live within our means, and we will need to cut unwise and non-essential spending to head off future economic problems.
But citizens, we need to consider also the vital role of government programs and that it’s simplistic to believe that wielding a machete in anger is wise policy for this or future generations.
Citizens, please also consider the significance of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy – which DWARFS other causes for the rising deficit as shown here in an independent CBO-data-based chart: http://bit.ly/hapSnh .
So we watch in astonishment while the present republican leadership promotes its Agenda of Anger without dicussion or consideration of the LARGER FACTORS driving the deficit shown above, or the consequences of those machete cuts on our ability to build our future, which requires for example, clean air and water – and opportunity for all children to reach their full potential.
Conspiciously absent from the tea party’s Agenda of Anger is a mention of the vital role of goverment programs in our history, or how to make the public systems work more efficiently.
In summary: 1) To characterize all government spending as wasteful and unproductive requires that we forget our history. 2) There is no justification for extending the tax cuts to the wealthy in the present economic circumstance. 3) Even Ronald Reagan’s vision of America did not call for lowering our expectations about how Americans must live in order to spur business growth – an economic growth that increasingly leaves behind American workers.
For more on this issue, see “Wealth and an American Paradox” http://bit.ly/ec24nO