Monday, March 23, 2009

On Fiscal Irresponsibiliy

The stupidity of government never fails to amuse me. Look at the recent American International Group (AIG) bailout fiasco. The president signed the bailout bill without hardly reading the table of contents, and lo and behold Senator Chris Dodd, with the encouragement of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, inserted language that allowed for $165 million to be paid as retention bonuses to AIG executives. Public outrage prompted several senators to insist on taxing these bonuses at rates of up to 90%.

This situation disturbs me on so many different levels. First, we have the government singling out specific individuals for taxation just because the government feels they deserve it. Second, what other asinine things were in that 1000-plus-page document that we have yet to discover? And last, this really shows how redundant and inefficient government is. They buy a bailout on our ever increasingly maxed-out credit card, give $165 million to executives, then decide against it and tax the money back. The government gives with one had and takes with the other, all the while senators and bureaucrats are paid in the process, wasting our money as it gets passed around. We become mad at the people receiving bonuses and demand that money is returned, but it should be noted that President Obama received $130,000 in 2008 campaign contributions from AIG. Is he giving that money back? All our representatives in Congress are granting themselves bonuses and pay raises, many of whom were responsible for either promoting policy that led to this mess, or did nothing to prevent this crisis. Why aren’t more people outraged over that?

Not only are our spending practices off the hook, but also so the amount of spending we’re doing! President Obama also promises to cut the budget deficit in half? Nice. It would sound better if he didn’t triple it first!

All this is part of a broader misunderstanding on the part of the public. Remember back at the end of President Clinton’s term in office when we had a slight budget surplus, and there was all the debate in the 2000 about how best to spend it? Pay off the national debt! Government is sneaky in how it abuses your money, and gives us a sense of victory when we have a little extra money for the year. A budget surplus simply means that we spent less money that year that the government collected…but we still DEBT back then. So Obama can promise to cut the DEFICIT in half, but that doesn’t do anything to help rid us of the national debt, which is the accumulation of years of budget deficits ($11,052,095,977,798.83 as of writing). President Bush took us down the road of huge deficit spending, but President Obama, with his massive new spending proposals, made a huge left turn that got us on the interstate.

All these problems stem from a greater crisis, in that we as a society have been spoiled with a sense of entitlement from the government. We have been granted governmental services for years that we as a nation cannot afford. Few are willing to give up these provided services. For example, the bailout money given to South Dakota was used to keep the South Dakota Art Council going. A great program, to be sure…but that was kept by throwing the cost on the national credit card, because we simply cannot afford it. Years of unfunded spending will come back to hurt us, and we need to change that now.

I have a simple solution. Why doesn’t some brave representative propose legislation requiring of the national government what the states and we as individuals must do? Spend only what we have and live within our means.

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