Guard, protect, and cherish your land, for there is no afterlife for a place that started out as heaven.
—Charlie Russel, artist
Let us imagine that everything goes swimmingly well this November, and that we receive a GOP Senate, the Republicans maintain control over the House, and we get a President, say Mitt Romney, who in fact delivers on conservative, limited government properties.
And so he retools our military, eradicates Obamacare, begins shutting down hundreds of government programs, and begins a serious study of plausible entitlement reform. The debt issue crawls to a stop, and even with considerable tax reform, we begin producing enough revenue to pay off that galaxy of debt.
We can go further. With lower taxes and significant regulation reform, employment kicks into high gear, and people get back to work and business start paying off outstanding debts. And, while we are imagining things no candidate will likely deliver on, the return to prosperity means that mortgages, credit card debts, and other personal finance problems start to get solved.
So that’s it? We’re done?
Hardly. One of the big catchphrases we keep hearing from conservatives is “that should be a state issue.” In nearly all cases, this reflexive gainsay against any federal spending issue is dumping more responsibility on states that are way deep in debt. We can save the country, but we need the states solvent, too.
Sure, some states have that figured out. Some are doing it on little or no income tax. Solutions clearly exist, but until the rest of the states fix their ruined financial houses, the problems will remain.
But let us imagine that all the states find a way to pay for no end of stuff that libertarians and far-right conservatives want them to take care of. Let us say they eliminate their obscene pensions, pull back on massive interference programs, and get themselves back in the black even with new roads, bridges, and wetland preservation.
We still have the issue of the municipalities—some of our largest cities (indeed, the bulk of American population) is stuck in cities and towns that also suffer out of control spending. Municipality after municipality is doubling or tripling fines, licenses, permits, fees, and administrative costs. They, too, have a terrible problem with pensions and over-spending on social programs. You can solve the federal and state problems, but the average person will see little personal relief until the municipalities fix their mess.
Did we mention the counties? Sure, the outrageous property taxes? The dramatic increase on utility taxes and 911 fees? Guess what? Many of them, too, are in the red.
The bottom line is this: tweaking, taping, and shimming is not going to solve the financial crisis Americans are in. We did this to ourselves, and contrary to belief, it didn’t happen overnight. It started in the early years of the 20th Century, was dramatically worsened by Roosevelt, catastrophically ruined by Johnson, and exacerbated by nearly every president thereafter.
To fix this, Americans need to admit it: liberalism has failed us. While there can be vague arguments made that liberals have contributed some social good here or there, the ensuing cost was not worth it. Leftism and radicalism have never produced a utopia anywhere (the very etymology of Ουτόπια means “nowhere”), and indeed have left nothing but ruin. Everything from social engineering schemes, unions, welfare, and wealth redistribution, to social justice, political correctness, and Keynesian economics have helped almost no one in proportion to the serious harm they are causing.
No one can pay this check for us. No one.
We need to admit to ourselves that granddad and grandma were right about things: pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get to work to take care of your own. We need to stop lying to ourselves that small measures can help, or that anyone else will do it for us. Because no one we elect, not even Reagan 2.0, has the power to get us out of disaster until we recognize what put us here.
Can we do it? Sure as heck. And we could do it in short order. We even have all the votes we need.
The election of 2012 can be the most important of your lifetime—but it has nothing to do with the candidates, but with what we tell them.