The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 23, 2013

America’s folly


DANVILLE — Obviously, any debt is the result of spending more money than is taken in. Moreover, all debt begins with a manageable level and then — when corrective actions are not taken — escalates to an unmanageable level.

Furthermore, the degree of pain/sacrifice associated with solutions proportionally increase as the debt increases.

Kicking the “debt can” down the road (postponing action) does not resolve debt, for the can simply grows larger, and in time the road ends.

Wasting valuable time by playing the blame game also is not a solution, for a goal — in this case, to reduce debt — without a plan is not a goal; it’s only a wish, and wishing achieves nothing.

The cause of governmental debt — state or federal — is twofold: dysfunctional (irresponsible) government and an ever-demanding citizenry.

The intended purpose of government is to provide through taxation those things needed by the masses that can’t be solely provided by the individual.

For instance, an individual can’t construct and maintain a needed highway to Chicago, organize and support an army for his/her protection, build and monitor a hydroelectric dam to satisfy electrical needs or erect and staff a school for his/her children’s education.

On the other hand, personal needs/wants — an automobile, clothing, food, housing, vacation, retirement, etc. — are the responsibility of each citizen.

Beginning with the creation of Social Security in the 1930s, politicians discovered that tax dollars could be spent on programs to woo the hearts and minds of voters.

No longer did individual citizens have to provide for themselves; the government would do these things for them. And by the late 1960s, the floodgates were open — unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps, public housing, vouchers, free/reduced medical care.

When tax dollars no longer covered the costs, government borrowing began.

Throw in the outrageous costs of military spending (unjustifiable wars) and continued borrowing, and we have today’s debt mess.

Oh, but money must still be funded for high-speed trains and new-generation, deep-space craft at the federal level as well as for driver’s licenses and educational opportunities for illegal immigrants in the state of Illinois.

Nothing is free. Someone pays for it.

Good luck, America. You’ll need it, for politicians are content to blame their opposing political party, to court the electorate with its own tax dollars and to place greater attention to themselves, their party affiliation and to special-interest groups than to their oath of office.

Michael Nolan resides in Danville.