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As the economy increasingly begins to resemble the scene pictured below from Live Free or Die Hard (2007) we still have persistent calls for incredibly stupid ideas on how to fix the economy. Republicans in congress led the charge with stupid ideas and many Democrats appear to be complicit in the madness.
A balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been floated before. Let me state emphatically that it’s a stupid idea. I’m all for conscientious spending of tax dollars but a balanced budget amendment means that in a time of national emergency (natural or man-made disaster) we could not spend the money required to address the emergency at hand unless we could balance the books in the process. But if there is one silver lining, we wouldn’t have had the two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) had there been a balanced budget amendment at the time.
The current government budget debate is an argument over pennies instead of an adult conversation over dollars. This highlights a fundamental issue that it’s near impossible for people holding temp jobs (elected officials) to solve the really big, long term problems our country faces. There is no real talk about cuts to the big entitlement programs or tax increases to help solve our budget deficit because to do so is seen as political suicide. So instead politicians go after the low hanging fruit in the hopes that the “dumb” American public will be happy that something was done. Then those politicians can run a campaign in the next election saying they cut spending and didn’t raise your taxes. The budget items being discussed don’t amount to much in the way of savings. Cutting funding to public radio (or other low hanging fruit) equates to a family debating whether they should buy a name brand product over a store brand product when instead they really should be discussing whether they need a fancy car or that expensive tropical vacation. I think the real problem is that nobody is paying attention. The average person in this country doesn’t pay very much attention to government, politicians or much of anything that they don’t perceive to have a direct and immediate impact on their lives. Politicians know this and that’s why they go after the low hanging fruit because they know that most people only hear quick sound bites and then move on. So if they can say they cut spending and didn’t raise taxes, to the average citizen that sounds like a good deal and will then reward that politician with another term. There needs to be an awakening in this country. More people need to start paying closer attention to what is actually going on in this country and in the world.