07.11.2011 0

The Unspoken Issue in the Debt Limit Debate

Relax About the Debt Ceiling CartoonBy Bill Wilson – Often times, someone outside the family is better able to define a problem or the real issues in a conflict than those in the middle of the dispute.  So it is that Jeremy Warner of London’s Daily Telegraph put his finger squarely on the real, underlying nature of the blood-fest surrounding the proposed increase in the national debt ceiling.

In an column published June 30, Warner goes through all the conventional discussion points about the nature of fight — Republicans want cuts, Democrats want taxes – as well as predictable establishment talking points on the impact of a refusal on the part of Congress to increase Uncle Sam’s credit limit.

But at the end of his piece, Warner puts his finger on the fundamental issue like none in the US have.  Warner writes, “Americans cannot have a European-style welfare state, a modern infrastructure and a defence budget equating to 4.5 percent of GDP unless they are prepared to pay for it.”  Right he is.

The time for wanting everything but paying for it with borrowed money is soon over.  The end of the line will come when either the American people make basic changes to the “what” we want to pay for or the markets finally sober up and realize U.S. debt is spiraling out of control and cannot be paid back.  Either way, the days of spend ‘til you drop and put it all on the credit card are done.

It is appropriate to look at Warner’s formula for a way out of the swamp.  First, do we really want a “European-style welfare state”?  The nation was built not on the handouts and welfare checks from gray, faceless bureaucrats.  It was built on the individual effort of a free, self-reliant people.  As government has bullied its way into the social sphere, private charity has declined.  Are we to believe Americans will not take care of those in their communities who need help?  Are we to accept that someone in Washington, D.C. knows better who truly needs help better than those living and working in the affected community?  And do we really believe some “enforcement model” devised in the group-think world of Washington will be better able to stop fraud in the system better than local people?

America doesn’t have to pay for a European-style welfare state because we don’t want one.  It’s destructive.  It does far more damage to society and the people it purports to help than not.  The beginning of the dismantling of it needs to begin at once and free-market, individual based programs advanced that address the issues of retirement, poverty, healthcare.

Second, Warner and some on the Left do have a valid question.  Why are we devoting 4.5 percent of GDP to defense?  When was there a vote in Congress that committed the United States and our sons and daughters to defending the world?  Why is there a military presence in over 100 countries?

Providing for the common defense is the first and arguably the primary reason for government.  The men and women of the United State military are the very best our country has to offer and their service and sacrifice should be held in the highest honor.  But why do we spill their blood and risk so much in battles that raise no threat to the people of the United States?

One of the reasons so many conservatives oppose Obama’s war in Libya is that he claims authority to do so from the United Nations.  No UN bureaucrat has the right to “authorize and direct” us to do anything.  The UN has no rights over us and we have no binding obligation to it.  Our sons and daughters are not and can never be cannon-fodder for the internationalist daydreamers.

So, yes, configure the US defense forces to defend our nation.  But eliminate all the Trotskyite “nation building,” make rich pampered Europe defend itself if they can, and end the countless earmarks stuffed into the Defense Budget by the heirs of John Murtha and other such scammers.

And finally, we should be building and improving the infrastructure of the nation.  But why must it be done by a government that cannot find its butt with both hands?  Government inflates the costs of such projects with backdoor handouts to unions through Davis-Bacon requirements and so-called “Project Labor Agreements.”  The EPA has become the biggest impediment to growth we face with their endless regulations and mindless rules and studies.  So, it is clear government simply isn’t up to the task of building a 21st Century infrastructure regardless of how much money they have.

Let the private sector do it.  We see such an arrangement working on a limited basis now.  Open the doors and let industry and the private sector build it.  It will be done on time and at a greatly reduced cost and will not show up as debt on the public balance sheets.

This is the discussion we should be having over the debt ceiling, not childish blather about tiny tax rules on corporate jets or inane class warfare bromides.  America is at a fork in the road.  We cannot afford to continue as we have and must choose one path or the other; a full-blown centrally planned socialist welfare state that sells its sons and daughter as mercenaries to Utopian fools, or a return to the First Principles of individual self-reliance, faith in the collective good stemming from the sum of all private actions, and a dedication to national sovereignty in all fields — economic, defense, and self-interest based bi-lateral foreign relations.

The longer we remain in our current zombie-state — refusing to choose one path or the other and pretending someone will find the magic formula to return us to the past — the more difficult and costly the eventual certain transition will be.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.

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