Lifestyles of the Spendthrift and Infamous
by Ak'Bar A. Shabazz (bio)
In 1996, Bill Clinton declared an end to big government. He was premature.
Our nation is now recklessly casting aside personal responsibility, limited government and a free market that has not failed us throughout our history. And there's no reason why our current economic woes should cause us to cast them aside.
A philosophy, however, is emerging that government exists to either strengthen one's position or pay for one's mishaps.
Ronald Reagan, our nation's last great president, saw a direct correlation between government expansion and a loss of liberty. Clearly, this new way of thinking is the threat to liberty he warned about.
President Obama, for example, just signed a so-called "stimulus" bill costing nearly $800 billion. This comes after $700 billion in taxpayer money was appropriated to bail out banks and other financial institutions. Another $275 billion is proposed for mortgage relief, and there is talk about hundreds of billions of needing more "stimulus" spending later.
Despite assurances this will jump-start the economy, the only sure thing is our country's sharp left turn will mean trillions in deficits that far exceed the previous estimates of the most bearish economic analysts.
There was very little bipartisanship on the latest bill, with Republicans almost unanimously opposing it. Democrats called it necessary to create jobs and prevent our country from sinking deeper from recession to an actual depression.
Despite everything, it seems the Democrats are using the economic crisis to define pet projects that would never pass on their own as stimulating. Family planning measures, welfare enhancements and earmarks by other names will do little to create new jobs. And lobbyists are circling like sharks in hopes of securing their own piece of the stimulus pie for their bosses.
What is missing are actual large-scale infrastructure projects that were the bill's initial selling point. Remember "shovel-ready"? Rebuilding roads, bridges, dams and levees surely will help employ Americans in construction and peripheral industries, but Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said the Senate compromise bill contained only about seven percent real stimulus as compared to 93 percent in spending.
Republicans now decry all this spending and say the inherent increase in government as bringing socialism to our doorsteps. They are definitely trying to rebuild the brand name of their party - one of fiscal responsibility.
These politicians have short memories, or perhaps they cannot see clearly because of the enormous beam of biblical proportions sticking out of their optical organs.
During the Bush Administration, the size and scope of government grew to stratospheric levels without as much of a peep from many of these very same Republicans. Those who condemned Clinton and Reno - and will surely condemn Obama - for abuses of power were suspiciously quiet when their guy that was the one being over-zealous.
Completely contrary to Reagan's wisdom, the Bush Administration concentrated more authority in the executive than any other presidency since Lincoln. Bush was not tasked with freeing the oppressed or uniting our nation. It did make our country less free.
Spending in the Bush era created enormous deficits, and they set the wrong example for the Democrats when they took over in 2006. These same Republicans also sat idle as their friends in the banking and oil industries used bizarre mathematical pricing formulas to rake in enormous profits irrespective of supply and demand mandates.
The sad fact is that those without a lobbyist on speed dial still seem to have little influence. When calls to Capitol Hill were reportedly overwhelmingly against the stimulus bill, it passed nonetheless. It would seem the voices of constituents only matter one day every two years.
American consumers, employees and taxpayers are being asked to carry the enormous weight of all this spending legislation. Reagan said most Americans simply want a better life for themselves and their families without too much government intervention. Unless we do something to change our nation's course, we will have neither.
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Ak'Bar A. Shabazz is a member of the national advisory council for the Project 21 black leadership network and president of Shabazz Enterprises. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints
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