There is an axiom that if you have to jump a canyon you don’t want to do it in small steps. If you have to lose a leg to cancer or gangrene, you do not make the task any less painful by amputating in pieces.
The lack of seriousness and honesty from our leaders on the fiscal crisis speaks loudly about the lack of courage and quality of our leadership, but it also says something about us.
Are we really more interested in Obama’s birth certificate than his budget? Trillion dollar deficits are so unfathomable to the ordinary voter that we will often succumb to lesser, easier to understand issues. We seem unable to discern which PhD economist is correct in analyzing the problem so we just ignore all of them, or only listen to those whose analysis verifies our existing opinion. We want confirmation, rather than information.
We want to blame the problem on past concessions to the wealthier Americans as the cause of the problem, but if you tax 100% of all the income and assets of everyone who makes over a million dollars you will barely make a dent in the projected deficits. And you do not need to be a supply-side ideologue to understand that if you tax anyone at 100% this year you will not likely find that revenue stream available next year.
At some point the quest for ‘fairness’ is simply juvenile. Is it unfair that the rich got richer if the poor got richer as well? Pragmatically, if soaking the rich is to be the preferred method to fiscal sanity a lot of Americans are going to be shocked at the fact that they are now considered rich. The lack of clarity on such subjects as ‘wealth’ and ‘fairness’ provides excellent camouflage for moral supremacists and semi-socialist ideologues.
Some of the poorest countries have the most equal distribution of wealth. Do we really want to sacrifice growth for equality? Do we really think we are smart enough to ignore that trade-off?
Our news media perpetuates economic ignorance in their coverage as well. It is much easier to blame oil companies and greedy speculators for the high price of oil than our political leaders who are inflating our currency rather than cutting expenses. Do they blame evil steel companies for the 30% jump in the price of steel? Do they blame evil farmers for the sharp increase in sugar and corn prices? Has anyone seen one media celebrity possibly suggest that that cause of all of these price increases is not the producers of these products, but our leaders who have deliberately degraded the value of our method of paying for these products?
Our oil is more expensive because we have restricted access to our own resources and have created inflation to attempt solve our problems. To blame others is dishonest, ignorant or cowardly.
The budget is THE battle. It will be solved with hard but clear solutions, not by slaying fictional demons, and not by diluting our efforts with popular but far less important political considerations.