Friday, November 23, 2012

Economic recovery is a time to do less

Let’s have a discussion about the 47%. Students who got bought off by college loans, women bought off with birth control,  poor bought off with medical care, Hispanics bought off with immigration reform. Let’s assume, for a moment, that Romney’s White Man’s Nightmare is true.

Let’s even ignore his secret tax returns and off-shore bank accounts.

We need to ask about the actual cost of these programs and whether this is truly the harbinger of an “entitlement society” as bemoaned by the right.

And at the same time, we need to look ahead about six months or a year, assuming the recovery that seems to be picking up steam (without Republican participation) continues to build.

The more affordable college becomes, the more engineers we produce (and fewer Golden Sach bankers) the better off we are. It is probably an investment, as opposed to a cost. I will make the same argument for much of Obamacare.  We do not have the best health care system in the world, just the most expensive. We can do better.

Immigration reform? How much does that cost us really? Should we send back the Irish, the Swedes, the Italians, the Chinese? C’mon.

Birth control? Let’s get government out of the religion business. And the morality business. Let’s make it as easy as possible to avoid unwanted pregnancies. If abortion offends you, then advocate for birth control.

No surprise, I have a contrarian argument to my friends on the left: We need already to be thinking about doing less with government. The left will say that they won and now is the time to push forward with an agenda they feel they earned. I respond that there was no mandate and a political victory does not change the laws of economics.

First and foremost of those laws is the problem of deficits. Of productivity. And yes, let’s give Republicans their due on this one, it is a fact that if something is free it will be consumed without limits, and the law of unintended consequences assures that if we remove consequences behavior will be altered and individuals will depend more and take responsibility for less.

It was never a good idea to cut budgets during a recession. But now that we see the end of the downturn and the beginning of prosperity, it is time to determine how we will slow the growth of government. Because we can’t live that far beyond our means as a society and we cannot tax our way into higher productivity, the only way that we truly create wealth.

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