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The National Debt Mess: How did we Get There?

An explanation of our federal debt crisis.

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Indri Schaelicke | United States

At the time of writing this, the US debt sits at $21.15 Trillion, and recent trends would suggest that our elected representatives do not care to step back, consider the potential disastrous effects, and reverse our course. How does such a large debt even come about? Let’s examine a few fundamental reasons.

Politicians give people what they want in order to win votes, but have no regard for what the budget can handle.

Over the course of the past year, many people have realized that nearly every facet of our lives is becoming increasingly politicized. The same is true of our budget creating process. Both parties make a show of what they wish to focus their spending on. Since the beginnings of the earliest political systems, the savviest politicians recognized that while campaigning for office one will be most successful if they tell their constituents what they want to hear. They can then promise a whole host of “free” programs, portraying government as the superhero that will save you from whatever affliction you face. Once in office, the politician will move to fulfill these promises, thereby expanding the scope of government and widening their base of supporters.

The public would be in uproar if the government taxed at the rate required to cover all spending.

In order to cover the cost of the programs that they wish to create, politicians would need to charge taxes at an incredibly high rate. There’s just one problem- no one wants to pay high taxes in order to get some “free” hand out from the government. They simply want their free healthcare. People want to have the cake, and eat it too. Politicians cater to this desire in order to secure votes, and the debt continues to grow.

As a libertarian, I support a dramatic reduction in government spending and seek to end our federal government debt. There are a few reasons I support this:

The more the state spends, the more control over our lives they have.

Government spending increases the size of the bureaucracy, creating more and more agencies that have a say in the way I live my life. Don’t you think I can manage my life better than an unelected official sitting at a desk in Washington DC, who knows nothing about me?

I don’t believe in coercion and wealth redistribution policies.

No one should have to pay for someone else’s birth control, for example. I say we lower tax rates for everyone, and minimize government influence in our daily life (cut spending),  allowing people to make decisions for themselves. No one knows how you should live your life better than you, so why pretend a government agent does?

However, knowing the tendency of both parties to oppose any spending cuts, a solution will have to be much more pragmatic. Fiscal conservatives must push for cuts to spending whenever they present themselves, such as when a bill comes up in committee, is being debated on the floor of their chamber or discussed in the public eye.

Ideally, fiscal conservatives who seek to end several agencies will be elected, as well as leaders in both houses of Congress who are committed to entitlement spending reform. Doing these two things will help us eliminate our debt.

I was driven to become a libertarian by being made aware of the government’s waste. I’m sure that a coherent message preaching the inefficiencies of the state would attract many more to the liberty movement.

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