Sunday, November 14, 2010

"I'm all for sacrifice, as long as it's not me."

So the Debt Commission Report is out and already, the usual suspects have retreated behind their usual lines drawn in the sand with spin machines ready to go. Both parties are screaming bloody murder about provisions in the proposal so I think maybe, we have a winner here. My way of looking at it is if both sides are equally pissed, then it's probably something outstanding.

I started reading around on sites like and The Huffington Post, the outrage was predictable as Redstate lamented tax increases, entitlement programs, etc. Huffington and others cried about Social Security cuts and other trimming of social programs. So while we'll all probably agree that we need to eliminate the deficit, no one will be able to make any compromise on their most cherished programs. Thus, another chance to right the ship will be passed up and we'll take on more and more water.

Have you ever played one of the old Sim City games? That's a microcosm of what running a government is like. Tax the wealthy too much and they move out of your city. Deregulate industry and it'll boom but you'll end up with rampant pollution which ends up driving away your upper bracket tax base. Social programs make your people more happy, education allows your residents to get better paying jobs, yet everything has a price tag on it. You're not going to be able to please everyone, your city won't be perfect, and you'll constantly be forced to juggle the needs of competing interests. Try playing that game and not running a deficit at least 3 out of 5 years.

Everyone wants the government to do something for them, yet no one really wants to pay a penny for it. The deficit reduction plan is going to require cuts across the board and sacrifices from everyone. The problem is no one is going to want to give up their slice of the pie. The people who want to cut Social Security are not the ones who are going to rely on it when they reach retirement age and those who support tax increases are probably not the ones who are going to have to pay them. "I'm all for sacrifice, as long as it's not me."

Government has a responsibility to provide services to those who pay taxes to it but what are those responsibilities? That's what we can't seem to agree on. Personally, I reject the simplistic argument that it should only be what is in the Constitution. At the time it was ratified, the population of the US was about 1% of what it is now. The states only covered the East Coast, travel was done mostly by ship or wagon and electricity wouldn't be discovered until almost a century later. Our needs as a country have changed since then unless you somehow still believe that George Washington is still president and you take your crop of tobacco to the store by horse and wagon.

What we're going to need to do across the board is compromise and realize that unless we do this, eventually we will go the way of past empires which overextended themselves and then crumbled. Everyone is going to have to either pay more or take cuts to the services they have come to depend on, regardless of whether it is Social Security, military contracts or transportation services.


  1. Dang, you are sounding less like a nut job all along. The only way that I see forward is to cut social programs and not allowing younger people to expect them to be there for them. We must raise expectations of people, and when they choose not to participate in becoming self reliant and productive, then they must be allowed to feel the consequences. I know this sounds like it is lacking in compassion, but what if every time our kids fell off a bike we never made them get back on it? Sure we need some regulation. Sure there must be some taxes, but where do we make people have some initiative? There in deed must be some balance. I may seem like I am far to the right to some, and I may even claim it. But the truth of the matter is that I see myself as merely reacting to the current situation trying to right the ship. Just like the sailor leans way out trying to keep the wind from pulling over his sailboat. I would not feel the need to be this far out, if there would be some restoration of common sense. The political scene seems to be on a pendulum. Maybe that is not entirely bad. I doubt that it will ever settle in the middle.

  2. It is on a pendulum and it's like voters are bipolar.

  3. At the same time, I have no problem with social programs as long as we have the money to pay for them. I also think there's wasteful military spending as well.