It’s been said that if the U.S. government was a business it would have gone bankrupt long ago. But unlike regular business the government can print money any time it wishes which results in issuing more debt. When a business needs credit it must apply for it and get approved. It must also have a plan to repay the debt borrowed. When the government needs more credit it simply raises the debt ceiling and prints more money. The last several years of QE2 show that this approach simply doesn’t work. The economy has been stagnant…growing yes…but at a very anemic rate.
The U.S. government was born “for the people and by the people” yet operates like none of the people – at least law-abiding citizens – that live here? Our citizens have rules and laws we must live by yet the government seems to operate without boundaries. So how do we get back on track?
We need to get back to the basics of what this country was founded on…principle. I’ve written a fair amount on this topic in the past but a review of our Constitution is really something that should happen immediately to get back on track. Factually there is only one thing our Constitution provides for citizens of the United States…”a common defence”, and no that’s not a misspelling. All other aspects of the Preamble are stated as “establishing”, “promoting”, or “securing” the item referenced.
While Franklin Roosevelt is widely regarded as one of the great Presidents of the United States, the programs he developed and ultimately implemented as a result of his New Deal created permanent provisions for citizens that are now viewed as entitlements. Born out of crisis, and mostly with good intentions, programs were developed to provide American’s with a safety net, but were not intended to become lifestyle arrangements. Our generation’s crisis – The Great Recession of 2008 and ’09 – led to dramatic actions taken to expand that safety net. Today, in some states like Nevada, unemployment benefits can last up to 77 weeks, and are currently being reviewed to extend beyond that. Healthcare reform – or Obamacare – will add more than $6 trillion dollars to our national debt, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and that number is likely to increase given the lower than expected enrollment numbers and the forecasted savings not panning out.
So where do we go from here? What should our government actually be doing?
Instead of focusing on solving for specific needs Congress should take a macro approach to governing. Meaning, ensuring we have a strong country (defence), knowing that only a strong country can grow and produce jobs. Jobs produce income and income drives economic growth. Without jobs our country is in a scary predicament. We will have to continue to rely on countries like China to purchase our debt. Why does that matter? Because we no longer own our country. If you take out a mortgage on a home or a car loan who is the real owner? You? Not until it’s paid off. Until then you simply operate it…but don’t own it. And when true disaster strikes like The Great Recession, those overburdened or highly leveraged lost their houses and cars. Could that happen with our country? I pray not.
The next area the government should focus on is education. Growing strong minds is as important as having a strong country. In fact, I’d argue that the military alone can not secure or deliver a strong country. Smart, educated people who are capable of solving problems, innovating, inventing, and leading are critical ingredients to making a strong country. Let our people solve our most pressing problems. Let our capitalistic structure work as it was intended to work and refocus the governments time and resources on its specific responsibilities as referenced in our Constitution. Then we can get back on track to fulfilling the American dream.