–What is the American dream?

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

10 thoughts on “–What is the American dream?

  1. I believe we need to stop looking at government to solve our problems and we need to look to each other – for solutions.

    Stimulus funding has only delayed and deferred our problems. We must save ourselves.

    Check out this group in San Francisco http://www.2020b.com they are relying on innovation to create jobs and renew America. It makes sense.

    I agree there are things that government should and must do, but individuals that seek solutions are the only ones that will create jobs. Government can only buy/finance jobs – they cannot “create” any. Only demand can do that. Demand comes from innovation that makes an industry more efficient or a product more attractive. We need to rekindle that American spirit by getting off our (now) fat asses and figure out solutions.


  2. Andrew W.,

    I agree that self sufficiency is a good thing. But, what about the people who need Social Security and Medicare, protection by the U.S. army and the police, affordable education, food inspection, drug inspection, the federal courts, bank deposit insurance, the FAA, roads and bridges?

    Do you feel you can handle those things for yourself, without federal assistance? Macho bluster may get you points with the ladies, but it doesn’t help much when the dam gives way.

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


  3. Gee whiz Rodger,

    I didn’t say anything about “self sufficiency” or the role of government to help those less fortunate or challenged. I simply said Americans were lazy and they we can’t simply look to government to save us.

    We have 15 million (or more) people out of work. Your solution is to simply print money and buy jobs. That only delays the inevitable.

    Perhaps you can use your powers of reason and logic and focus on the problem – which is not the tired argument of Liberal versus Conservative or more spending versus tax cuts, but rather an honest, objective effort to restart our economy. We can’t do that by simply borrowing money and ignoring problems. We have to innovate ourselves out of trouble by solving problems like livable cities, new schools and clean, renewable energy. Government has spent many decades and trillions of dollars on those problems and yet they have created NO solutions. Cities, schools and our dependence on oil and coal have not been solved.

    You want to increase deficits and I want to increase innovation and actually solve problems financed by demand. You’ve picked the easy one. Congratulations.


  4. Andrew,

    You said, “We have to innovate ourselves out of trouble by solving problems . . . I want to increase innovation and actually solve problems financed by demand.”

    Great thoughts. What’s your plan, specifically?

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


  5. I don’t have a specific plan. I referenced that group in SF – 2020b.com because they apparently do. They are solving three big problems – livable cities (affordable for young people), new schools to replace our sub-standard schools throughout America and clean, renewable electricity on a large scale.

    I think we’ve lost our focus on innovation and invention. We are spending $1 trillion on a stimulus package and that money isn’t going to innovation. I would offer prize money for people who create solutions. For instance, I think it’s in the best interest of all of us to shut down coal burning power plants in America. They contribute one-third of all harmful gases, including co2. Perhaps our government should offer a $100 million prize to whoever solves that dilemma. The reason it’s a challenge is that coal is cheap and can be converted to cheap electricity, but the cost to the environment is too high.

    There are numerous problems that we need to “try” to solve. I suggest that if someone has a reasonable concept, supported by science, we should give them grants to demonstrate their innovations. Even if only one-in-ten actually works, we could find the next Michael Dell and create jobs.

    I think jobs come from demand for better products or more efficient processes or services. So we need to focus as many people as we can on making things better. When we’re really good at it, we create new products that can be exported – something that rarely happens today.

    So, I want more incentive and less subsidy.

    On a side note, we have more than 1 million members of the military that don’t have anything to do. I would put them to work on a big government project like the proposed new supergrid for electric power. It’s a waste of money to have a million people “waiting.” I don’t think they would mind serving their country in another capacity.


  6. Andrew, I had looked at that “2020b” video, and didn’t mention it out of courtesy. It’s just an overblown, hyper-ventilating advertisement for a company hawking alternative energy, as though this were something the world had not yet thought of.

    Anyone can announce we should “innovate,” but that’s not a plan. The government spreads the money far and wide. Some of it has immediate economic benefits (build a road); some has unknown future benefits (research), some has intangible benefits (pay off debt). But all stimulus money has some benefit, the value of which no one can measure.

    My personal opinion is the best stimulus was the original mailing of money to taxpayers. It was too little and too late, but it put money in people’s hands, allowing the innovators to innovate, the debtors to pay debt, the builders to build, the students to be educated and the scientists to discover.

    I have serious doubts about the ability of politicians and bureaucrats to determine the best short-term and long-term uses for money. I prefer to give it to the people, and let the people make that decision.

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


  7. Rodger,

    I guess you didn’t pay attention to that video. Of course alot of people have talked about “alternative energy” but we all know it is cost prohibitive. That groups claims to be less than coal or natural gas – that would be called a BREAKTHROUGH for investors like myself.

    They also have a plan to replace half the schools in America – paid for by their energy savings, not government subsidies. Everyone knows our schools are sub-standard and government HASN’T solved that – they are suggesting they can do and, again that would be a BREAKTHROUGH.

    They also claim to be able to develop high-rise living for half price and in half the time – another BREAKTHROUGH.

    Are you that cynical about private enterprise that you can’t see how valuable those three things are. In the meantime you simply want the government to keep borrowing from our children to make-believe everything is just fine.

    Again, you take the easy way out. Do your Grandchildren know you’re spending their future? Do they know you have little confidence in your fellow man? Do they know you every American now owes more than $41,000?

    I can’t vouch for 2020b, but I recognize that ambitious, inventive people are going to turn our economy around. These people appear to be the opposite of you. They’re actually doing something, not simply expecting government spending to solve our challenges. They’re trying, while you’re crying. Big difference.


  8. If they can accomplish all the BREAKTHROUGHs they claim, they will have no difficulty attracting billions of dollars. So what’s stopping them?

    As for spending my grandchildren’s future, you must be new to this site. Read: Monetary Sovereignty . You’ll be relieved to learn your grandchildren don’t owe $41,000 — not even one cent. So quite crying and start trying (to read).

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


  9. AndrewW posts a link to that video on scores of websites across the internet. It’s classic in the ways its done: “we have the answer and its cheaper than what is done now”. Your response is also classic: if it is so great, they will have no problem attracting funding.

    The video is perfect to sucker in the dumb.


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