|SWEET ARE THE FRUITS OF GENIUS|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 06:00|
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Internet social networks are rife with political posturing, resulting in a bombardment of endless bumpersticker graphics with inaccurate quotes attributed to the suddenly-beatified American "founding fathers." (This, despite the fact that the 2010 Texas Board of Education replaced Thomas Jefferson with Thomas Aquinas on its list of approved Enlightenment philosophers, and James Madison-- famed defender of Separation of Church and State-- is now being touted as a fervently-devout Episcopalian across the interwebs. I suppose the new Christianity trumps both Deism AND historical accuracy among modern online witch hunters.)
Anyone immune to fanatical political punditry must concede the truth of Disraeli's famous quote: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." A cursory glance at the ridiculously over-simplified hyper-contextualized charts and graphs floating around Facebook reveals that anyone can be painted as an ill-doer when it comes to the deportment of ridiculously large sums of money. But the intricacies of the United States federal budget, and the history of how it got that way, are so mind-bogglingly complex they cannot EVER be reduced to some cutesy political cartoon or graphic. The attempt to do so insults the intelligence of the viewer.
Hardcore political pundits are less interested in "truth" than in "ammunition," but the USA's current uncomfortable financial situation is actually everybody's fault, since our brilliant economic strategy seems to be "endlessly stuff our face at the buffet smorgasbord... then, instead of pushing back from the table and settling the tab, NEVER LEAVE THE RESTAURANT."
The worst contributor to this syndrome is a half-baked economic strategy called "starving the beast." In it, the government cuts taxes and reduces revenues until the economy is horribly in the red, creating a financial crisis that FORCES politicians to stop over-spending, reducing the size and scope of government by draining its lifeblood. Reagan tried it, and so did George H.W. Bush. As Reagan explained: "If you've got a kid that's extravagant, you can lecture him all you want to about his extravagance. Or you can cut his allowance and achieve the same end much quicker."
The problem with that analogy is that it's fucking stupid. It doesn't account for the fact that in OUR case, "the kid" has a charge card with an unlimited credit line. If you cut his allowance, he goes right on spending the same amount of money... except he puts it "on the card." And the national debt grows exponentially.
Of course taxpayers-- especially corporate ones-- love the part about "lowering taxes." So they support it by voting for politicians who try to starve the beast on the front end, while government continues to grow in the background via an ever-expanding credit debt. Meanwhile the raw ignorance expressed by shallow political sock puppets (Sarah Palin, I'm looking at YOU)-- who craft facile media sound bytes around the cute phrase "starve the beast" with ZERO understanding of the actual economic forces at work-- is nothing less than an American embarrassment.
The plain truth is simply this: NO MATTER WHAT YOUR POLITICAL AFFILIATION, YOU CANNOT STARVE THE BEAST INDEFINITELY. EVENTUALLY, THE BEAST MUST BE FED. You can keep pushing it off onto future administrations for a while, but not forever. Ultimately, someone has to pay the tab. And the bill is coming due.