I wouldn’t say I’m undergoing a political conversion, but I would say my views, which have always trended toward the liberal, are evolving about government spending.
Clearly, as a nation, as a state, and as communities, we’re spending more than we’re taking in, and it doesn’t look like that balance is going to shift anytime soon. And increasingly, I think, we need to worry about another possible financial disaster looming ahead of us.
The giant credit card is coming due.
One caveat: This doesn’t mean we need less government regulation. Inadequate government regulation, mixed with a healthy dose of greed, is what got us into the financial mess of the last two years, and also into the mess in the Gulf of Mexico.
A second caveat: The Tea Partiers, who’ve made government over-spending one of their guiding principles, lose credibility because they didn’t say a thing about our rising debt until President Obama took office.
But, regardless, we can’t afford to keep spending money the way we’ve done over the last decade or two.
Of course, we all seem to agree with that principle, but then where do you start?
With the schools? Michigan teachers say you can’t do that–they spent a full day protesting the cuts earlier this week. Could we eliminate sports programs or the extra-curriculars? Nope, those are too important. Forest Park parents objected loudly to any such cuts at a meeting on Monday.
Should we let the roads and bridges go without repairs? No, can’t do that. It’s unsafe.
How about reducing the police forces? Heavens, no. Just look at what happens every time Michigan tries to close State Police posts.
Reduce prison costs by letting out some of the less dangerous inmates? No! Absolutely not.
Close libraries or museums? This might draw some support because probably only about 20 percent of us regularly use them, but what would their closure say about us as a society?
Put off Medicare and Social Security eligibility for a few years? Reduce government and teachers’ pensions? Good luck on that.
Bottom line: We all want to reduce government spending, just as long as it doesn’t affect us. It’s another version of NIMBY—Not In My Back Yard.
But we’ve got to grow up, we’ve got to make difficult choices. Our county, state and federal governments can’t do everything for us.
You want sports in schools? Pay for it. You want the extra courses, beyond the basics? Pay for them. You want city parades? Pay for them. Teachers aren’t happy that they have to pay more for their benefits? Tough. That’s the way it is in the private world. You like your Medicare benefits just the way they are? So would we all, but the times have changed.
Unfortunately, despite all the heated rhetoric out there about government overspending, there doesn’t seem to be the political will out there to do anything about it. Nobody wants to be the first to make a serious and drastic cut.
And we continue marching inexorably toward financial catastrophe.