We Are Broke

We are broke. The nation is broke.

The national debt is at twenty trillion and counting. That number does not even include all of the additional unfunded liabilities which, when included, add trillions more.

For the most part know, the average person knows nothing of this. We live in an era where we are told to carry on and move forward as if this mind-numbing debt means nothing.  Most of the stories being reported today are about the overreach and abuse Donald Trump is inflicting on America through proposed cuts; but, the fact is many of these cuts are desperately necessary and overdue.

This same scenario played out a few years back in New Jersey. There, governor after governor used taxpayer funds to aid public sector unions. When Chris Christie became governor and began changing policies that affected many of these programs, there was tremendous backlash accompanied by calls to throw him out of office.  Christie responded in a speech before the state legislature as follows: “Year after year governors have lied to you, administrators have lied to you; but, when I come in to tell you the truth about the status of the states finances, I become the bad guy. Shouldn’t the people who lied to you for years be treated as the bad guys and not me?”

Trump has been given the unenviable task of governing a nation completely buried in debt. He said he plans to cut many government programs because of the debt and, predictably, the Left is outraged. Some of the programs rumored to be cut are:

  • National Endowment for the Arts (eliminated entirely)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (eliminated entirely)
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting (privatized)
  • The Minority Business Development Agency (eliminated entirely)
  • The Economic Development Administration (eliminated entirely)
  • The International Trade Administration (eliminated entirely)
  • The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (eliminated entirely)
  • The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (eliminated entirely)
  • Violence Against Women Grants (eliminated entirely)

What’s most fascinating about the Left’s outrage is how it sees the role of government. The Left argues that the monies the government generates from tax revenues should be spend it wherever there is a need. For example, for the Left, many rural communities only have access to the arts through government grants given to local artists.  Therefore, spending government money on this is a worthy cause.

For those who are politically Right or Libertarian these programs as wasteful. The government’s role in society should be safety (the police), strong defense (border security, and enforcement of laws (courts and contracts). The Right does not, or cannot, understand the outrage in response to Trump’s attempt to de-fund many programs because, again, the government should not be funding these projects in the first place

Take for example Public Radio…commonly known as NPR. Taxpayers fund this network even though today technology provides us with radio, satellite radio, streaming radio  and podcasts.  You would think there would be no complaint about cutting NPR radio given the multitude of readily available and easily accessible resources. The market would not miss NPR because there are enough alternatives existing elsewhere.

Similarly, public television. We live in an age where people are daily cutting and limiting  their subscriptions to cable companies because there are so many other ways to access this medium. Apple TV, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu are leading the charge into this world of “on demand” customized content. In addition, free media is available all over the net these days… especially with sites like YouTube which provides free access to all of its content.  So, again, in a day where T.V is ubiquitous, why do we still need the government involved?

Finally, do any of these programs matter at all when you have no money or capacity to pay for it?. Has the public lost its collective mind and sensibility?  The nation is broke. Even if we saw a need for it, we no longer have the ability to pay for it. 

Doesn’t it logically and rationally follow that there is the need for cuts?  The same way a family will cut back when it needs to tighten its financial belt, the government should as well.

Ronald Reagan once quipped there are only a few certainties in life: death, taxes and a government program. Donald Trump is beginning to realize how hard its going to be to cut funding or eliminate these programs. For many in the private sector, industries grow and die all the time. For the displaced, they have to learn new skills and adapt to meet the needs of the marketplace to find work again. Only in government does this natural process fail to occur. Good ties…bad times…government jobs are forever.

This is the reason for the outrage.

A government job is about as good as it gets. A steady paycheck and no competition.  Its why all of the private suppliers who sell to the government are upset with the new changes. They know all too well the best client in the world is the U.S government.

We are long overdue for a reality check and cuts in the public sector…now made more pressing because we no longer have the ability to pay for unnecessary programs.

As with Chris Christie, should we be mad at Donald Trump for exposing the cuts that need to be made or the politicians who lied to us for years about the status of the country’s finances. Shakespeare had it right. Read your Henry V.

“Don’t shoot the messenger.”

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com