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Commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation, Ethical Standard More Thought Provoking Commentary!
March 08, 2011
You are invited to read this commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation. It will make you think!
We Must Take Our Medicine
By Robert E. Freer, Jr., President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
“Where to elect there is but one, 'tis Hobson's choice take that or none” Thomas Ward
Well, it has begun. I don’t know what our country will look like in 2015, but as we contemplate the financial abyss dogging us for decades, the battle has been joined. The President has put forth his budget, a tepid proposal that enshrines the more than a trillion dollars he added in 2009 by only snipping at the edges of that enshrinement of deficit finance and the Nanny state… And in this corner, Congress has begun its own effort to rein in both spending for the remainder of 2010-11 and the upcoming fiscal year of 2011-12 by cutting more than 60 Billion from the current year CR.
As a political body, the nation as a whole is to be tested just as surely as we were tested by World War II. We must not fail. As Americans we must reach deep within ourselves to find the will to sustain a multiyear effort to change the federal government’s approach to spending. I am sure the odds in Las Vegas of our success are not good. Already I am reading articles in The Washington Post suggesting Republican insensitivity to the “positive” impact of 1.9million Federal workers, 275,000 of which have been hired in the past two years. Already objections have been raised to cutting funding for sacred cows like NPR and federal funding of special programs to put public safety personnel on the streets of cities and teachers in their schools which were created during our economic emergency.
The anguished cries insist that should we lose a significant number of Federal jobs as result of a significant budget curtail, we will slow or totally eliminate the economic progress of the past year and be right back in the economic soup. “Untold damage will be done,” allege the progressives whose cows are being gored. Well, I have news for all of us, conservative cows are to be equally trampled upon as the substantial sacrifice required to put us back in financial order are enacted by this Congress.
These efforts will not be successful unless bone as well as fat is sacrificed in order for us to get back on a prudent spending path. As I contemplate the future and think back to my childhood, my mother is asking me whether I want her to pull the Band Aid off my arm “slow or fast,” I conclude today as I did then, it is better to get it over with than face the lingering pain of a slow recognition of what is required to get the job done.
We simply cannot afford to continue our profligate ways. Just because a case can be made for humanitarian assistance of one kind or another does not create the funds to support it. Intentions cannot be spent. We must pay our expenses as we go. Our government is no different. After decades of disregard for this principle, disaster is at the end of the dock upon which we have just trod if we don’t arrive at an economically achievable answer. By the way, it is a short dock. World financial providers are watching us closely with sharp pencils and a jaundiced eye for a loss of will to do what we must to regain their trust.
The coming years are not for the squeamish. Resistance to facing the necessity for belt tightening in Washington is echoed in many states. Democratic members of the Wisconsin Senate have fled to Illinois to avoid a quorum in Madison that surely would modify bargaining privileges held by state government workers and which require a modest cost sharing for their health care coverage. Union workers from around the country have rallied to the state employees and Tea Party sponsored counter rallies are showing up to support the governor.
As I write, these are the events du jour to be replaced in our headlines with others symptomatic of the swirling passions over the very fabric of government and its relationship with its citizens by the time it appears in print. The press has been inpatient with the new leadership in Washington. “Unveil your plan they cry. What are you going to do about entitlements?” they rail. Other than promising us that entitlement cuts will be included in the new budget, Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee has emphasized that the congressional process is a deliberative, open process with the committee chairs having a great deal of discretion in assembling a “Chairman’s Mark” after its public and private deliberations.
The Republican bill(s) for the next fiscal year will thus reveal themselves over the spring and summer for action sometime after the Fourth of July Recess. The Issue has already been drawn, however, by the House’s reduction of the continuing resolution for this year by over 60 billion dollars and forwarding this action to The Senate where it will become the centerpiece in the debate over the raising of the Debt Ceiling prior to March 4. Senator Reid has already blasted a proposed cut that was only half as large as that enacted as “unworkable and draconian.”
There is a bipartisan group in the Senate working to find a compromise based on the Debt Commission Report. Chairman Ryan recognizes that the House will have to compromise in order to avoid the national borrowing authority lapsing on March 4, but there can be no compromise with reality. Though we remain the largest economy in the world, our government spends too much, assumes too much authority over our lives and is overdue for a serious pruning. How we proceed between now and the end of this Congress in 2012 may very well determine not only our fate but that of those who have looked to the United States as a beacon of liberty and bulwark against the forces of disorder and tyranny in the world. _._
Copyright © 2011 by Robert E. Freer, Jr. All rights reserved
About the author: Robert E. Freer, Jr., after an extensive career in government law and business, serves as the first BB&T Visiting Professor in Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel. A regular contributor to the Mercury, Prof. Freer may be reached at Robert.email@example.com. Copies of his earlier columns may be found at The Free Enterprise Foundation A compilation of “classics” from his articles has just been published by University Press as Citadel Values II and can be found at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.com. The opinions he expresses are solely his own.
This article may be republished unedited in its entirety provided that copyright statement and author by-lines are kept intact and unchanged and hyperlinks and/or URLs provided by the author remain active.
Please sent any comments to Robert Freer, President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
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