Cut the government 4

We hold personal liberty to be the highest value, which is why we are sympathetic to libertarianism.

One of our favorite libertarians  is John Stossel, who writes today at Townhall:

When Congress and President Obama agreed on a deal last week to raise the debt ceiling and resume government spending, people reacted as if a disaster was averted — instead of reacting as if a disaster had resumed. It has. And it continues.

Congratulating ourselves for raising the debt ceiling once again, the way we do every time this drama plays out, is like congratulating an alcoholic for talking the bartender out of cutting him off.

As with alcoholics, there’s a deeper problem here. It’s not just that America is addicted to debt. Everyone agrees we should pay our bills, just not when or how. The deeper addiction is to government.

For most of the history of America, federal spending never took up more than 5 percent of the economy. Spending increased during wars, but after World Wars I and II, spending dropped back to prewar levels.

Then came Presidents Johnson and Nixon and the “great society.” From then on, spending rose even in peacetime. Now, if you include local government, government spending makes up more than 40 percent of the economy.

When Obama campaigned for the presidency, he … complained, “The way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the bank of China. … We now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back. … That is irresponsible.”

I agree! $9 trillion in debt is totally irresponsible. That makes it all the more remarkable that just a few years later, under President Obama, debt increased to $17 trillion. But now, suddenly, this vast debt is no longer irresponsible. Today the president says what is irresponsible is for Congress not to constantly raise the debt ceiling.

Let me make some suggestions: Eliminate NPR and PBS funding. Cut foreign aid. End the war on drugs. Kill Fannie and Freddie, which financed America’s mortgages and helped cause the financial crisis. Eliminate cabinet departments like Commerce, Energy, Agriculture and Education, all activities that happen without any need for the federal government. (Education is a local function, and the department spending $100 billion a year hasn’t raised test scores one bit.)

Oh yes, all those should go.

Reform Social Security by raising the retirement age.

Or phase it out altogether, we would suggest.

And instead of increasing government involvement in health care, turn Medicare into a self-sustaining insurance program.

But with his next suggestion we do not entirely agree. It is a point on which we diverge from our libertarian friends:

Shrink the military by reducing our overseas commitments. …

We do not want to see a shrunken military (although we do think many of the soldiers stationed abroad – in Western Europe for instance – should be brought home*). We think much more should be spent on defense – and preparation for wars abroad that may very well become necessary. (Why not robot armies?)

We are emphatically against the “Responsibility to Protect” resolution of the UN (for which Samantha Power, the present US ambassador to that corrupt and ridiculous institution, was the inspiring muse). America has no responsibility to be the world’s policeman. But aggression against us – by the mullahs of Iran, for instance – should be met with overwhelming counter-force. No absurd notions of “proportionality” should ever be entertained.

But to return to domestic woes – John Stossel makes another suggestion:

To save America from bankruptcy … we could grow our way out of debt if Congress simply froze spending. They won’t do that either, but if they limited spending growth to 2 percent per year, we could balance the budget in just three years.

And he ends on a dramatic note with words that ought to be read not as a mere rhetorical flourish but as a real warning:

Limiting government growth is politically difficult, but if we don’t do it, America is doomed.


*Footnote: From Wikipedia: “The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with 172,966 of its 1,372,522 active-duty personnel serving outside the United States and its territories.” See the list.

  • rogerinflorida

    Let’s look at this from another perspective:
    Globalization reveals a huge money making opportunity, if production can be shifted from high wage to low wage areas then costs would be greatly lowered therefore profits hugely increased , but there is a snag, somehow the purchasing power of the consuming (formerly high wage) population has to be maintained to some extent otherwise there will be no market for the low cost, high profit goods produced by the virtual slaves in the low wage areas.
    Voila! Have the difference made up by govt. programs of direct subsidy such as welfare, SS, SNAP, Disability, etc. and by hugely increasing the number of Govt. employees. The great beauty of this is that not just are the huge profits maintained, the recipients of this welfare largesse are actually borrowing their own wages! And from the class who are reaping the profits! It don’t get much better than this.
    Your comments about the military are mystifying, coming as they do from a libertarian source. We have two armies, two navies and five air forces, The US accounts for at least 40% of Global military spending. There is a very good reason that the founders particularly said that a standing US continental army could be maintained for only two years at a time and then had to be re-authorized by Congress. That reason was that standing armies are tyrannous. The United States has been turned into a garrison state by this insane level of military expenditure. My suggestion: demobilize the USAF completely, it’s useless. Fold the US Army into the border guard, in greatly reduced numbers (the US Navy already has a perfectly good army, and a perfectly good air force). The only additional military expenditure we need and which is long overdue, is a US Navy base or bases in space, complete with space frigates of some sort to maintain freedom of use and non-belligerence in Earth orbit.
    As for the so called threat from Iran, it must be very frustrating for those third party nations who are hell bent on having the US destroy Iran for them, to see the unmistakable signs of rapprochement between the US and Iran.

  • WmarkW

    >We do not want to see a shrunken military

    Disagree. The U.S. today is the most secure nation in world history. The “interests” we defend are corrupt middle east powers and international shipping routes whose defense should be shared worldwide. The sequester that includes Defense cuts, is the best budgeting tool the federal government has ever used.

    • Jillian Becker

      And why is the US the most secure nation on earth if not because it (still, but maybe not for much longer) has the strongest military?

      You would trust “shared defense”? With all the countries in the world? With any other country at all?

      The sequester has been good for cutting government spending. But the GOP should never have agreed to let it include defense spending.

  • liz

    Good article. Great example of our leftist President’s utter hypocrisy, and the media’s dutiful portrayal of him as the hero “averting disaster”.
    We are living a propaganda controlled, leftist organized disaster of historical proportions, and 50% of the population couldn’t care less.
    And talk about hypocrisy. We supposedly have a “responsibility to protect” other nations, when absolutely no responsibility at all is exerted to protect our own. Welcome, invading hordes! Your barbaric, backward excuse for a culture so enriches the fabric of our society that we offer you the sacrifice of our freedoms as a token of our appreciation.