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Government Spending: Poverty or Posperity?
By: Wayne Brown
We, the taxpayers and citizens of America, stand by and watch as our government spends its way into oblivion and mortgages our future in the process. The individual share of the government debt is growing steadily and government officials only seem to be able to come up with more ways to spend money and point to an increase in taxes as a way to relieve the debt burden. God forbid that truly cutting the spending process would be a consideration.
For the most part, the public is looking toward government to stop the spending cycle and initiate more conservative measures in terms of government expansion. Under the Obama Administration, the federal government has grown by a factor of almost 20%. This means the payroll has grown in the same proportion or possibly greater depending on the average compensation involved. Since government is not a business and does not produce a profit by virtue of its existence, this growth and expansion of government and the overhead associated with it should be of great concern to the citizens of the country. Those who would expand government so rapidly certainly are employing some reckless fiscal practices in running the government.
The story we hear from Washington now is that the government is too burdened with entitlements and military costs to find any effective manner by which to reduce spending. We continually hear that the government can no longer afford to pay out what people have paid in most all the adult years of their life. The government has taken money from every working citizen for much of their working life in the name of Social Security yet no longer has the money which we entrusted to it. If the government were a bank, I fear that some of our citizenry would be standing out in front of it right now watching it burn. If the government were a bank, it would be clear that our funds that we worked hard to get and had no choice in paying were squandered, mismanaged, and stolen.
Those in government explain away the problem by citing the fact that a post-baby boomer shrinking work force equals a shrinking cash flow in terms of Social Security taxes therefore there is more money going out than the government is taking in for entitlements. They fail to point out or remember all the years which the baby boomer generation has been paying into these funds; all the years that the government was taking in more money than it was paying out in terms of entitlement; all the years that the surplus money was thrown into the general fund and spent on pork-barreling and other forms of theft then never replaced. Plainly, clearly, undeniably, the citizens of America have been and are still being duped out of their money by an out-of-control government sector.
It is no wonder that we do not have enough money to cover the expenses of government. The Obama Administration just tossed over $800 billion dollars down the drain in the name of stimulus spending to create jobs and prod the economy along. The plan has failed miserably and more than half the money is gone. The remaining $300 billion languishes in the coffers with a yet undefined purpose but new deficit spending continues almost unchecked and will certainly worsen after the mid-term elections if significant changes in current officeholders are not made.
A recent news report indicates that the Obama Administration is now admitting that approximately $162 billion dollars of funds designated for TARP cannot be accounted for on the books. In terms of government spending, many of our elected officials would just shrug their shoulders at this figure and write it off as “chump-change”. Many countries around the world could probably operate off of the money that is “lost” in the accounting of America each year. Yet, we the taxpayers, seem to stand idly by and let it continue to go on. We continue to accept the excuses and the asinine reasoning offered for the loss or mismanagement of the funds. We, the taxpayers, do not seem to have a sense of accountability for our own government. We have forgotten that it is ‘our’ government and these people work for us.
Our national debt is approaching very near to a one to one ratio with our national output or gross domestic product (GDP). In business terms, that is essentially saying that for every dollar we take in, we already owe that dollar to someone else. Businesses that attempt to operate under such a ratio are doomed to failure and the same can be said for our government. In the process, countries such as China are buying up our debt in the public markets. Essentially, China is loaning the USA money on a regular basis to stay in operation with the downstream promise of repayment along with some healthy interest. Much like a major stockholder in a large corporation, China’s interest in the economics of our country may have already reached an unhealthy level. This should be of grave concern to our elected officials in Washington yet they keep spending money that our government does not have and China keeps buying up the debt. One day, those loans will come due.
For years now, the ignorance of the American taxpayer has allowed those in Washington to use double-speak and creative terms to satisfy the public concerns. Those who would cut spending never seem to accomplish it. At times, there have been efforts to cut the “rate of spending” and that term is tossed about as if we are actually saving money. The truth of the matter is our elected officials have only slowed the rate at which it is going out of the coffers, but it is still going out.
We are overdue to impose some of the same language regulations on the government which are imposed on the financial institutions and others in America. The government has the audacity to require the private sector to clearly explain in layman level terms all the conditions associated with mortgage, credit, and consumer loans. This is cited as a good thing for the consumer yet it apparently is not a good thing for the government to embrace. Those in government continue to employ the tired old double-speak and evasive terms which hide what is really going on with budgets, cash flow, and efforts to reduce spending.
Obviously, it would not be prudent to significantly reduce our military and its capability in light of the current terrorist threats throughout the world coupled with the behavior of countries like North Korea and Iran. At the same time, placing some restraint on military spending might make good sense. The question must be asked as to whether we are using sound fiscal practices in our current approach to military-related spending.
Then, of course, there is “entitlement spending” that makes up another large piece of the pie. I despise the term “entitlement” as the label has been assigned by our government officials. Hell yes, we are entitled to it. After all, it was our money we paid in specifically for the purpose of it being there when we no longer were part of the active workforce of America. We had no choice under the law. At the same time, there were not stipulations which stated that along the way a person must refrain from being successful in their working career. Rich or poor, if we paid the money in for the purpose of Social Security, then we are entitled to receive the payment when we qualify. It is time those in government came to that same conclusion and quit trying to make Americans feel that they are stealing from the taxpayers when they apply for their Social Security. This is yet again another example of the double-talk coming out of Washington.
So, where is the answer? First and foremost, the answer depends greatly on putting some honest and dedicated people in high places in our legislative and budget process. We have to get rid of those who are willing to knowingly attach pork-barrel spending to bills that make good sense. We have to have people serving in office who have a reasonable business head, who understand budgets, cash flow, cash reserves, and spending ratios. We must have transparency that utilizes explanations and phrases that can be easily understood and interpreted by the taxpayer. We have to stop complicating things that are really not complicated. We have to have people in office who work to remove complication yet manage our money with accountability and purpose. Then, we might have a start; we might have a chance to be what we can be instead a country that is starting to be swallowed totally in debt as those who serve us continue their spending sprees.
The November mid-term elections offer the taxpayers of America a “first-step” in this process to rid the government of career politicians and those who would line their pockets with taxpayer funds. We have an opportunity to clean house and make a new start. As we make that new start, we also have the opportunity to establish a message of “accountability”. We have the opportunity to clearly send the message, “mismanage our money and get fired or maybe go to jail…your choice!”. If we really want change in America, this is it. This is our chance to recover the American promise of freedom, security, and an environment in which any individual can rise to new heights. This is the change that America can really believe in and has nothing to do with redistribution of wealth, spending our way out of trouble, or embracing socialistic practices.
It is well past the time for the American taxpayer to wake up and sound the alarm. It is our duty to see that we have overslept. It is our duty to wake up and realize that those charged with the responsibility have bungled the job. It is our duty to heed the urgency and make the choices necessary to correct our course as we navigate these troubled times. We must take that first step in a process of recovery. We have to start somewhere and this is a good place in time. It is our duty as Americans.
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