fiscal responsibility in government

Standard

    The United States of America has a government in need of discipline. We have a free market system that has produced great wealth for our citizens but current government policies are spending beyond even that systems ability to maintain.  We have a healthy GDP that continues to grow and yet our government has out of control spending. There are measures that could be taken to curb this spending and there are also measures that could be taken to slow the deficit. But it will take a government willing to discipline itself and come together outside of politics.

     Our national debt is not going to go away and I don’t think it needs to. Our economy seems to be growing in spite of it. However that being said we as a nation and our government especially need to understand that just because it is a good idea doesn’t mean we get to have it. In our homes we learn fiscal responsibility or we end up homeless and on the streets. The government needs to understand the same thing.

     So using a home and family as an example of a small nation we can look at the problems besetting our national economy. In a family there are workers and there are citizens incapable of working for monetary gain. Those citizens need to be cared for. Those with the ability to work and earn a wage share what they received for their labors.

     In our nation we have the same problem. Citizens who cannot work for wages. They need to be taken care of. Thus we have a large chunk of government spending which goes to the programs that do that. Unfortunately there are citizens on both sides (government agencies, congressmen wanting to keep voters happy and non-workers) who take advantage of those programs adding layers of oversight which then needs to be paid for. There needs to be a cap on the amount of money going out to these programs.

One thing that could be done is to bring social security back to what the original intent was. That is, giving a living wage to citizens who have reached an age where they can no longer do the work they were employed to do and paid into the system so they have earned it. It was meant as a government sponsored retirement plan, not a pay everybody in the family if the employee can’t work. Also it was meant as a plan that would only pay out for 10 years for 50% of the people paying in because the others would have died. We need to raise the age when you can receive it to better reflect the age of death for our citizenry now.

     The other welfare programs need to make better use of who is eligible also. Just because you choose not to work doesn’t mean you can’t work and therefore the government doesn’t ‘’owe’’ you anything. We need to find better ways to help the truly helpless and allow those who choose not to work to suffer the consequences of that choice.

   Those needs seem to be a large portion of the deficit problem and one of the hardest for congress to deal with because the citizenry has shown that they won’t vote for politicians who try to change them and so it is part of the deficit they keep adding to instead of fixing. But going back to our family analogy we can use adult children as the citizens who may be choosing not to work. As the working parents we need to choose how we will deal with this situation and let the consequences follow. Our government must reign in this portion of the fiscal spending.

But there are other needs of the family that can also correlate with the nation. We need to protect our family and assets. There are security measures which must be taken to maintain the safety and security of the family. The same is true in the nation.

     Our nation has threats domestic and foreign which must be dealt with. Therefore we need a strong military and internal police force. But here too we must learn to have fiscal restraint. How much is too much? When have we gone too far in our security measures? In our homes if we barricade ourselves in we are no longer living with others but we have isolated ourselves. As a nation we need the world and they need us. We need to be more aware of when our assistance is essential for the economic good of the global outlook and when it would be a never ending struggle. Our military budget needs to reflect our goals as a nation not as a political arena for budget wars.

     Then there are the other considerations which are different for every individual and so harder to quantify monetarily. In the family there are medical, education, transportation, discretionary, housing, food, clothing, utilities, insurance, taxes, charitable donations, and others. Each of these items are dealt with in the family by whatever system works for them but there is a finite amount of resources that can be distributed.

     In the U.S. government one of the main problems is that they keep trying to exceed the finite resources available. Our society has given the government power over most of the same needs as the family just on a larger scale. The citizens expect the government to take care of the overall wellbeing of the nation. Unfortunately the citizens are also unwilling or incapable of paying for all of it. We as a nation have limited resources as well.

     Part of the United States government’s responsibility is to know what the resources are and to not over extend or over spend those resources. Yes, our constitution says the government should provide for the common good but we can only do so much before the resources are gone. Our trillions of dollars in debt says we are way over extended and need to cut back.

     In a family the banks would have cut us off long ago. The mortgage company would have taken back our home. The utilities would have been shut off and our assets would have been sold to pay down the debt. We might have also found one or more of us in jail for not obeying the law.  Our government should be held to the same standard. The fiscal policies of the government are not working. Yes, the GDP is in good shape but our government is spending our country into a hole that will eventually swallow us. Yes, our citizens could be taxed and clear up the debt fairly easily and that is one of the reasons why we as a nation are still viable in the global market. But, unless there is a reduction on government spending the debt will just come back.

     Again, back to the family model. If everything gets taken away from the family to pay down debt they can still survive because there are wage earners who can continue to earn money. But, if they continue to spend irresponsibly the cycle will just repeat.

I think it is also true with the government. Just because it is a good program doesn’t mean we can afford it or for that matter need it. We must be fiscally responsible first, then we can work out where our assets can best be used.

Advertisements