We are going over a cliff. Higher taxes, uncontrollable debt and budget cuts are all in the near future for the American public. After the election, NPR noted that the fiscal cliff has become the top issue for lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Millions of Americans will be affected by the long economic recovery. In most cases, politics are not only unfit to help, but are the main culprit in leading America down its treacherous economic road.
Today’s fiscal cliff culminates in decades of government promises that are impossible to keep and uncontrollable spending meant to keep everyone happy. Though politicians share a majority of the blame, it is lobby groups, special interests and voters that ultimately decide who enjoys the authority and power that create fiscal cliffs.
When John Adams said, “Happiness of a society is the end of government,” he expressed his faith in a government dedicated to happiness. In 1854, Abraham Lincoln said that “The legitimate object of government is to do for people what needs to be done” — a government that solves issues and keeps society moving. In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson set forth his ideal country or “great society,” one that demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time — a government committed to end social problems.
As different administrations, Supreme Court justices and congressmen placed their own definitions and objectives for government, they began to build the present institution as well as the relationship it currently has with society. Today, we are left with the remains or consequences of those past rules: Trillions spent on war, one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and, of course, massive spending and debt.
Our current system of government does not have anything to give, but it does take plenty of liberties away from citizens
Entitlement spending is not only putting us in financial catastrophe, but it also reinforces the authority that government has to take and give to us, from each other. The most expensive programs are Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, all of them bankrupt and growing. If some were to say that they have the right to a home, food, transportation, or education, it would mean that government is obligated to provide it for them.
Unlike businesses that have to change or die when they are unsuccessful, government programs keep getting funding regardless of their success. This is the philosophy from which our current fiscal issues flow.
Small measures and kicking the can down the road only make the cliff taller.
Politicians need to enormously cut the budget and make it balance in order to evade even larger downturns. Before this can happen, a philosophical change must occur on the proper role of government.
Carlos Alfaro is an executive board member for Students For Liberty.
Reach the columnist at email@example.com or follow him at @AlfaroAmericano
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.