The progressive left has steadily constructed a massive middle-class entitlement state over the decades, leaving us today to ask ourselves individually if we can live without our benefits. In other words, how painful am I willing to let it get before I cry uncle and demand that the government stop cutting?
Americans who have cared enough to tune into the intense debate over raising our debt ceiling favor leaving it where it’s at by two to one, despite President Obama’s claim that most Americans favor a tax hike along with raising the debt ceiling. This is not the only lie Obama has perpetrated on the American people during this debate. John Lott has written an excellent article detailing seven other myths Obama is pushing to get his way. Despite all of the lies Obama’s progressive liberal caucus is reduced to spouting in the knowledge that Americans overwhelmingly reject their vision of the future, it will eventually get down to the question of whether we who favor massive cuts to federal spending are willing to give up any benefits we may currently enjoy in pursuit of our cause.
We have been conditioned over the years to view government spending as payments that someone else receives out of tax money taken from our checks. And while that scenario is certainly true, federal spending is so much more insidious than many of us realize. We occasionally glimpse this insidious world in the debate over the local school board budget when the expense of complying with federal mandates is weighed against loss of federal dollars factored into the local school board’s yearly budget. The thought of losing this modest federal contribution of 8% to 10% of the local schools budget sends a shudder through school board members whose first thought is one of having to propose an unpopular tax increase to make up the difference. The thought of calculating the budget reduction arising from noncompliance with these federal mandates and comparing it with the amount they risk losing rarely crosses anyone’s mind.
Now consider all of the federal spending that goes to support universities in both direct payments and to support university research projects through the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Energy and other federal agencies. This is funding that helps keep the cost of tuition lower than it would be otherwise. Let’s not forget support to businesses through the Small Business Innovative Research Program, congressional earmarks, and grants from numerous federal agencies to support company research and efforts to bring products to market. Just because we don’t receive a payment directly from the federal government in the form of a Social Security check or disability check or unemployment check or Food Stamps, doesn’t mean we don’t receive federal assistance of some kind. When we realize the full effects of federal spending cuts, will we be willing to give up that federal assistance that makes our middle-class lives possible? The thought that the federal government has entwined itself so deeply into our lives as to be able to threaten our personal financial stability should cause us to pause and deeply reflect on our current situation.
For decades we have been warned by conservatives of the insidious reach of the federal government into every aspect of our lives under the auspices of righting injustices, lifting our standard of living, defending the weak, protecting the environment, and preparing to respond to the crisis or natural disaster. We see the laws that are passed and shudder as our freedom is slowly chipped away under the guise of protecting us, but we often fail to see the reach of federal money and its pernicious effect on everything it touches. How many times have we gone along with some ridiculous scheme such as alternative energy in a bid to either retain or get more federal money? Even as we roll our eyes at the stupidity of the initiative, we salivate at the prospect of federal funding. Much like a drug addict, we’ve become dependent on this federal funding stream that started out as a bit of good fortune supplementing our way of life, but ended up dominating our financial security as we got used to better.
Sure, Obama is lying to us about the effects of not increasing the debt limit and once again warning that this is yet another impending crisis that spells doom for the American way of life if he is not instantly granted everything he’s asked for immediately to address the “crisis.” But, we’ve been lied to for decades by the progressive left that has whispered in our ears and seduced us with promises of federal money to supplement our cozy middle-class lives, and the worst part is that we wanted to believe and did believe because it all sounded so nice. We told ourselves that we could live with these little regulations that mostly affected other people much more than ourselves, and that we could quit anytime we wanted. Some of us resolved not to put ourselves in the position of having to rely on the federal government for our financial stability only to take jobs in industries indirectly supported by the federal government. Perhaps we don’t get a check directly from Uncle Sam, but he’s the major customer of the company for whom we work.
When the finger is pointed at us and the demand made that we who demanded federal spending cuts give up our federal largesse, will we still be willing to demand federal budget cuts and a return to fiscal sanity when it is our individual way of life that is threatened? The thought that it might come to this should cause us to shudder and begin to disentangle ourselves from federal control to the extent possible. We should continue our demands for budget cuts, reductions in the size of the federal government, and restoration of American liberty, and resolve to never let ourselves ever be placed in such a weak position in the face of such outrageous tyranny again. Realize that America’s Founding Fathers went to war with the most powerful nation on earth in a hopeless cause to win America’s independence over issues that seem trifling in light of the oppressive laws emanating from our own federal government. We won our freedom from Great Britain only to surrender it to our own federal government. And, make no mistake, financial chains are more binding than actual chains because we choose to succumb to their power.