The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.
What is the American dream? Does it focus on money, taxes, deficits, debt and government? Or does it focus on people?
Today’s oh-so-chic belief among debt hawks, mainstream economists, some Democrats, most Republicans, all Tea Partyers, the public and the media is: The federal government and the federal debt are too big. The government should get off our backs and allow our John Wayne, American, can-do spirit to take over. We don’t need big government; we would rather roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves. The main problems with big government are: It requires big taxes and it inefficiently does what we-the-people can do better.
Wrong on all counts. You who understand monetary sovereignty already are aware there is no relationship between federal spending and federal taxing. The government can spend endlessly, without taxes. You also understand that federal debt = money, which is necessary to grow our economy. And while big government can be massively inefficient (as can business, for that matter), there are several things big government can give us, that business cannot give us as well or at all.
In another post on this blog, I list some of the government funtions the right wing would like to eliminate. See: Debt hawk proposals.
I believe the American dream should include:
Universal health care: There is no reason every man, woman and child in America, citizen and non-citizen, ever should lack health care – and not just any health care, but the world’s best health care. Medicare not only should be expanded to pay more and for more procedures, but it should cover everyone. It should cover doctors, hospitals, drugs, home care and hospice. There simply is no reason why anyone should suffer health problems for lack of money.
Universal education opportunity: In other posts on this blog, I have made the case for paying students a salary for attending school.
Freedom from poverty: Poverty has many causes. The debt hawks act as though poverty always were the fault of the poor, and are reluctant to provide assistance, “lest it encourage laziness.” There are many reasons for poverty, and laziness is one of them, but surely not a primary one. Most poverty is thrust upon people who either cannot work or cannot find work. No one in America should go hungry. No one in America should be forced into homelessness.
The problem with the high rise, slum housing projects like notorious Cabrini Green in Chicago, was not the concept. The problems were crime and maintenance. Had these buildings been treated like condos, with plenty of police protection and 24-hour maintenance, they could have been as suitable as an upscale, high rise condo. However, the government built them, then walked away from them, and the criminals took over, while the buildings fell apart.
Retirement: It simply is a fact of life that few people are able to amass enough money during their working years, to support themselves during retirement, without a significant loss of life style. Social Security is a good, though inadequate, support system for our senior citizens, and now there is talk about raising the retirement age and reducing benefits in other ways.
FICA should be eliminated and Social Security benefits should be increased. Only big government can do this.
Security: Police and the army: Obviously the responsibility of big government, unless you believe in the vigilante system of justice or wish to fight the enemy with your own hands.
Safety in food, drugs, investments, environment: Another responsibility of big government, unless you prefer eating unsafe food, taking unsafe drugs, having unsafe banks and watching our environment degrade. If anything, more government help is needed, not less, as this most recent recession has demonstrated.
Transportation: Yet another responsibility of big government, unless you and your neighbors plan to take pick and shovel in hand, to build roads, airports, and public (oops, private) transportation.
There are many other irreplaceable functions of big government, and the point is, people who decry big government simply do not know what they are asking for. If anything, the government needs to get bigger, to take care of our unmet people needs. I agree with not wanting federal taxes. The government neither needs nor uses them. But the notion that government should “get off our backs” is misguided at best and suicidal at worst.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
No nation can tax itself into prosperity