There is much talk about the austerity measures forced upon the Greeks by the European Union, due to that nation’s insolvency, and there is the government shut down in the American state of Minnesota, and of course the U.S. federal government is facing a crisis if lawmakers cannot agree on raising the debt ceiling to prevent our nation from defaulting on its debts and sending the whole world economic system into a tailspin, seeing as how the dollar is still the world’s benchmark currency.
State and local governments throughout the nation are in a financial crisis with their current expenditures far exceeding their income.
Republicans (usually tagged as conservatives) and Democrats (usually tagged as liberal) argue over which programs to cut and whether to raise taxes, but neither side seems to offer a clear solution.
While economics is certainly not my strong point, I think the crisis is so bad that the time for philosophical arguing over what the role of government should be and what functions and programs should have priority and whether people should need less help from government or whether government has to be there as a safety net is over.
When the money really does run out, the game ends.
I don’t offer a solution, but I think going to so-called zero-based budgeting would be a good approach. Instead of departments or agencies taking their most current year expenditures for granted and only going up from there, I think everyone should start from zero and justify each expenditure.
Years and years ago I used to cover county budget meetings for a newspaper. And of course I read the news today. When a government agency says it is taking a cut, it always or usually means it is not getting the increase it figured it needed.
While government shutdowns are inconvenient, and in some ways outrageous, maybe that is what is needed in order for us all to really decide what our priorities are.
I still think that in the end we will have to cut some expenditures but raise taxes to some degree in order to pay off the debts .
I’m not really sure whether the national debt, now reported at more than $14 trillion, can ever be paid off or whether it actually has to be — it’s kind of a strange sleight of hand thing, I think. The government really does seem to print money based on no real hard value and then virtually give it to banks to loan out at interest.
But there has to be some semblance of balance here and some real value trading hands, otherwise we will all be pushing wheelbarrows full of nearly worthless dollars to just buy a loaf of bread, as was reportedly done in Germany before Hitler‘s rise.
Reporting on government budgeting never seems clear. When they say they balanced the budget, they didn’t really, and there is really never a surplus since there is still an outstanding debt, and expenditures are nearly always justified by unrealistic and often outright phony revenue predictions. And cutting the deficit just means not spending as much in the coming year as originally planned and has nothing to do with paying off the actual outstanding debt. It is all quite arcane and purposely misleading to the benefit to the myriad of special interests who profit from it all.
(And really, why do we get tax refunds? If the money was justifiably needed then it should have been kept and if not it should have not been taken in the first place and all those tax deductions are just tax shifts to some other poor sucker.)
But I think if things are really as bad as they are said to be, the piper simply has to be paid and we must start over from there. There still is great wealth in this nation, most of it in the hands of the super rich, but also much in the hands of every-day citizens who would rather spend it elsewhere than paying off debt.
The whole tax system should be simplified and the burden of taxes should be spread evenly as possible, with few to no tax breaks for anyone, be him or her rich, middle class, or poor (obviously people with no income or resources cannot pay any tax).