Republicans better start addressing our nation’s economic insanity

Columnist Robert Samuelson wrote a piece today titled “California’s Reckoning and Ours” – that has “national implications”:

“California has reached a tipping point. Its government made more promises than its economy can easily support. For years, state leaders papered over the contradiction with loans and modest changes. By overwhelming these expedients, the recession triggered an inevitable reckoning.”

So far so good. But then he writes (emphasis added):

“Here’s the national lesson. There’s a collision between high and rising demands for government services and the capacity of the economy to produce the income and tax revenues to pay for those demands.”

The only “high and rising demands for government services” that exists are the ones being trumped up by proponents of bigger government. When the states extend Medicaid to cover the middle class, and the feds expand an already bankrupt Medicare – these are self inflicted wounds.

There will always be people clamoring for “free stuff” – which has to be paid for by current and future taxpayers. The job of any public official is to act responsibly – and mortgaging our future is highly irresponsible and nothing more.

A good deal of what constitutes growth in government is actually just government paying itself more. That’s right – government employees do better on average than private sector employees. Government employees have much more generous pension and benefit plans than their private sector counterparts.

The national scandal that is government employee pensions is regularly being reported on by websites like Pension Watch.

Robert Samuelson also writes:

“[California’s] wrenching experience suggests that, as a nation, we should begin to pare back government’s future commitments to avoid a similar fate.”

Ya think?

The Wall Street Journal yesterday had a couple of funny lines regarding the “cash for clunkers” program:

“Let’s have a $4,500 subsidy for everything.”


“What the clunker policy really proves is that Americans aren’t stupid and will let some other taxpayer buy them a free lunch if given the chance.”

In a country that is economically insane, it’s reassuring to know that some sanity still exists. The Journal editorial included this:

“[T]his is crackpot economics. The subsidy won’t add to net national wealth, since it merely transfers money to one taxpayer’s pocket from someone else’s, and merely pays that taxpayer to destroy a perfectly serviceable asset in return for something he might have bought anyway. By this logic, everyone should burn the sofa and dining room set and refurnish the homestead every couple of years.”

And thank God for Mark Steyn (the Thomas Paine of our times), who again is connecting the dots. In an article for National Review titled “A Liberty Issue,” the subtitle says it perfectly:

“Government health care would be wrong even if it ‘controlled costs.'”

Steyn writes that “health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture.”

“That’s its attraction for an ambitious president: It redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in a way that hands all the advantages to statists – to those who believe government has a legitimate right to regulate human affairs in every particular.”

I’ve noted what I see as Steyn’s brilliance previously (here and here). The West – and Americans in particular – have a decision to make much like those who lived during the founding era. Do we want to be free or not? Are we willing to fight for that freedom or not?

Steyn writes:

“How did the health-care debate decay to the point where we think it entirely natural for the central government to fix a collective figure for what 300 million freeborn citizens ought to be spending on something as basic to individual liberty as their own bodies?”

And this:

“Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks – drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high.”

©2009 John Biver