What Is Government For? Can We Do Better?
by, Aug 02 2012 at 09:54 PM (108 Views)
Posted from my blog, SimplePolitiks: http://simplepolitiks.wordpress.com/
This is going to be one of my few open ended posts. I don't want to put too much opinion into this piece, only facts, and I'll leave it up to you to comment/make a final decision for yourself. I encourage everyone to leave a comment, I'd really like to know what you think of this predicament.
As all of you know, the U.S. government is having the worst debt problem in its entire history. We are over 16 trillion dollars in debt, we've lost our triple A credit rating and deficits are not decreasing so debt is still rising. There are many states that are suffering from huge deficits as well. The reason our government is having deficit problems is, to put it simply, it is spending too much. On what, you may ask?
Fiscal Year 2011
Here is the budget for fiscal year 2011. You can compare it to previous years and this year's estimations if you'd like. There are some fairly large programs in our budget that take up the larger chunks of cash. Social security, medicare/medicaid, and the military are some of the biggest. All of these programs help to make our country great, that much is unmistakable. However, the cost is also unmistakable, and I fear we are approaching a very difficult situation. Let me show you what I mean with the data from 2011:
** All numbers are in billions of American dollars **
Total Spending: 3,818
Federal Deficit: 1,645
Which means our Total Revenue for 2011 was: 2173
And Total Deficit: 1,645
Okay. So we took in 2173 billion dollars in 2011. Now I'm going to cut everything out of our Federal Budget except for Welfare, Medicare/Medicaid, and our Debt Interest.
Pensions (for sickness, disability, old age): 793
Health Care (Medical service for seniors, medical service, public health services, R&D health, health n.e.c., vendor payments aka welfare): 882
Welfare (family and children, unemployment, unemployment trust, workers compensation, housing, social exclusion n.e.c., R&D social protection, social protection n.e.c.): 495
Debt Interest: 206
Grand Total: 2,376
Which means that these 3 things have become so incredibly expensive that they can put our nation into a deficit without any other programs. And this is during a time of great debt interest rate! Which, by the way, will not be low forever. Here is a video made in 2012. If you're reading this post then you have to watch the video to fully grasp this concept.
Unfortunately the interest rate on the debt is the sole obligation that can truly be controlled out of the three. It'll be (*)(*)(*)(*) tough, but it can be diminished and eventually excluded. Welfare and Medicare/Medicaid, however, are not controllable at all. As the population increases, the required expenses also increase. And population will not decline anytime in the foreseeable future. It will only grow, causing our expenses to increase disproportionately faster than the government's own revenue. So at some point even reforms won't be able to fix the deficit situation we're currently in (I doubt their true effectiveness in present day, too). And when you factor in every other program and department that our government funds, the next biggest obviously being the military (which is over half a trillion dollars right now... And boy good luck telling a Republican to cut the military budget!), it's hard to imagine how we can promise balanced budgets a generation or two from now. Perhaps incredibly high taxes will be able to stall the government for time, but I can't imagine anyone who would be happy about that.
All of this brings us back to the initial question.
What is government for?
Is it the government's responsibility to provide social security? What about a military financed with substantially more money than many civilized nations combined? Or health care? Or the poor? Or education, the arts, college student loans? And all of the other little things that government provides for! There are also taxes, should the government allow a system that favors the rich? Maybe the poor because they have the least amount of money and they truly need it... I don't know. I'm just trying to throw as many ideas around as possible.
Whatever you think government is responsible for, you always need to ask yourself the essential follow-up question:
Can we do better?
No matter what type of system you favor, the correct answer is a nice big "HELL YEAH WE CAN". For example: our government has been around for over 200 years and we're still trying to figure out how to structure it. If you don't think that we can do better by making our programs more efficient, then you're incredibly short-sighted; our programs are beginning to fail in their current condition. We need to make our programs as efficient as possible in order to hold off the growing deficits and debt.
So what do we do?
We're in a pretty interesting situation right now. I've gotta say... I'm not exactly confident about my generation's future...