In the USA, what should be the role of Government, what should be reserved to the private sector and what is best served by a public/private partnership?
When we say government, let’s talk about Federal, state and local levels. We desperately need to debate this publically, civilly and widely. “Militia groups:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/04/us-surge-rightwing-extremist-groups are on the march today as they haven’t been since the days leading up to the civil war. Tea Baggers plan an armed Take Your Guns to Washington rally in Virginia on April 19th, the anniversary of the Branch Davidian Fire and the Murrah Federal Building bombing. There is talk of throwing bricks through the windows of every Democrat that voted for the historic healthcare reform, and of “taking them out.” Limbaugh even exhorted his listeners to “take them out.”
There is serious talk of armed insurrection to “take back our country.” From whom is not quite clear. From the majority of voters who elected Barack Obama President? He won by a margin of 10 million votes. For a president who inherited an economy left in shambles by the previous administration, Obama still has a positive rating in public opinion polls. People have gotten so polarized into far-right and left that it sometimes seems like the sane center has become an endangered species. If we don’t stop this, open war is going to break out.
Not only must we worry about domestic terrorism. As we bicker about what we should and shouldn’t pay government to do, the bills for what it actually does right now just keep piling up. The National Debt is around $12.7 trillion dollars and growing rapidly. It will soon hit 100% of our Gross Domestic Product, which is currently $14.2 trillion. Now mind you, we have paid down heavier debt before. In 1945, after spending to repair the damage of the Great Depression then fight WWII, which the pain of the Depression helped trigger, our debt soared to 120% of GDP and we paid it down. We set taxes at 70% and above on very high incomes, and paid it down.
Every President from Harry Trumann to Carter kept bringing the debt down. Reagan slashed top rates from 70% to 28% and for the first time since WWII, the debt began to rise. Not rise, it skyrocketed. It tripled in his 8 years. We have been so seduced first by the “Get Something for Nothing” promises of Democrats then by the Get Everything for Nothing” promises of Republicans that neither side seems capable of facing the debt and reversing it.
Our federal deficit can no longer be staunched with a band aid. We are hemorrhaging money from the jugular vein. We must stop the bleeding or die as a nation, but we cannot even seriously discuss how till we face the facts of what government needs to do for us, and what is best let to individuals or private corporations to do. We can balance the budget by either killing Medicare, Medicaid, welfare/workfare and most other government services, eliminating defense spending, or raising taxes. Nothing short of that will do enough to fix our debt problem. So, what should we do?