The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
In his 1988 farewell address, Pres. Ronald Reagan said “We the people tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us. ‘We the People’ are the driver; the government is the car. And we decide where is should go, and by what route, and how fast.”
The problem is that the driver is drunk.
Exhibit A is the headline atop an Associated Press story in the March 9 Salt Lake Tribune: “Americans hate taxes, love spending, survey shows.” The survey, regularly produced since 1973, shows dysfunctional thinking. According to the report, “Most Americans want government austerity, but they also want increased government spending on a host of popular programs including education, crime prevention, health care, Social Security, and the environment.”
The report says the public only favors less spending on five of 23 categories: foreign aid, welfare, assistance to urban areas, space exploration, and military/defense.
OK folks, this is no way to drive a car. No wonder Congress resembles a bunch of spoiled children fighting at recess.
If we want to cut spending, we have to sacrifice. I’m willing to “take it on the chin” if my neighbor also does. That might mean a $10 per month decreased Social Security checks (by altering the consumer inflation ratio), making small 5 percent cuts in non-essential programs (National Public Radio to educational subsides) and downsizing the number of active military personnel. We don’t need to do away with Big Bird or close Hill AFB; all programs could function with a slightly reduced budget.
But people don’t want that Р and neither do the politicians. Rep. Rob Bishop rails against any cut of military defense, just as Sen. Harry Reid tosses off any changes to Social Security. Why not cooperation? All of us could lose a little weight and none of us would have to starve.
But that’s not what people desire, according to the surveys. We want the “other guy” to take the hit, the other person’s ox to be gored. We don’t want our Utah state taxes to climb, but we complain about having the largest per pupil classrooms in the country. We want Pres. Obama to stop his “reckless spending” but we are alarmed when he cuts the budget for space exploration, harming the Brigham City area.
As the AP notes, the public would dismantle foreign aid (“loose change hovering at 1 percent or less of the federal budget”) while objecting to any cuts in Social Security or Medicare (“among the biggest deficit drivers”).
Of course, not all of Pres. Reagan’s drivers are under the influence. A friend recently told me that his company planned on reducing labor costs by 3 percent, and the firm announced that three of the some 100 employees would be laid off. Instead, the employees proposed that everyone keep their jobs and take a 3 percent pay cut.
Compare this effort with our elected officials’ posturing and protecting their own turf. Compare the employees’ plan with the national survey, which shows Americans wanting less government, but only in areas that don’t impact them.
If Americans are the drivers, I’m reluctant to enter the freeway.