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The False Choice

January 8, 2013

As I’ve said before, I’m universally in favor of more choices because people know their needs better than the experts and most people can deal better with poor choices when they make them themselves.

Right now the US is facing a real choice:

A larger  government – trying to do more things (some well.. but others not so) and consuming more real resources in the attempt. Somebody has to work and produce to create the wealth a welfare state consumes. Economists, Federal Reserve Governors and the CBO can manipulate the numbers but in the end it all comes out in the wash; if the Government does more, the resources must come from the private sector… and that means YOU! Our federal government does not have sufficient revenues to fulfill this vision today.

A smaller government – trying to do fewer things (but maybe doing some better). Most people agree we need national defense but we could spend less than we’re spending now. We all need police, fire protection and the court system.  Public education is broadly supported but we could get better results for our spending. With luck we could stop doing a few things that government already does badly (like wars on drugs and poverty where the other side is clearly winning).  Maybe the government could stop managing the economy (a gold mine for crony capitalists) and making it easy for anyone to get a home or college loan regardless of the losses and waste this enables.  No practical person actually believes the Federal Government can get smaller but if we could slow the rate of growth to less than the private sector growth rate government would take a smaller share in a few years. The federal government has more than adequate revenues to fulfill this vision.

So why aren’t we having that elusive “national conversation” about our choice? 

Because politicians continue to get re-elected by running on a false choice. 

According to our leaders, we can have a big generous government and make someone else pay. Democrats pick “millionaires & billionaires” while Republicans prefer “someone living in the future”. Neither has the guts to tell you the truth.  If you want more government you will have to pay for it. If you aren’t willing to pay you’ll have to make do with less.

Do you ever wonder what might result if we demand that our government do better with the huge share of our resources they already have?

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3 Comments
  1. Steve Cooper permalink

    Great good commonsense in that piece, Rick. You’ve identified the fundamental dysfunctionality in the political theater, IMO.

    Although I would quibble with the comment that neither party has addressed the dysfunctionality; Paul Ryan has been remarkably candid about the problem of trying to live beyond our means for quite some time, and talked about it often in the campaign.

  2. Nice write up – your closing line leads me to believe you have an over abundance of common sense – which, unfortunately, none of our politicians and far too few voters seem to possess.

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