Let me propose a way to balance the federal budget -- slash it and the taxes sent to feed it, in half, starting in 2013.
Granted, such a suggestion sounds a bit radical. After all, in spite of what we like to tell ourselves, we have become increasingly dependent on "mothering" by Uncle Sam, which takes money. The federal budget will never be balanced until we Americans take adult authority over their own responsibilities rather than behaving like we are entitled to the fruits of others' labors.
Naturally, such suggestion to return to American founding values will be met with the charge of not only radical but racist, Nazi, mean, and any of a number of other unflattering -- and untrue -- insults. There are none more vicious than those defending the right to benefit from what others accomplished. The decision as to whom gets my money or how it should be spent is not within my right to decide.
How much of the federal government's own money makes up its budget? None. The federal government only has money when it takes from the producers of this nation. How much control do we have over the way the government spends the money we send them?
In practical terms, none. How much of the federal government's spending do we approve of? If we are like most people, very little. Given the answers to just these three questions, the idea of cutting the federal budget in half is not really a very radical idea at all.
Our nation was set up under a federalist design. The Constitution states that the federal government is limited to those things required of it in the Constitution and all else is the responsibility of the states. So if some Americans want to be mothered why not leave the money in the states and have government originate there? Then at least the federal government will not have the ability to create policy that will affect the entire population.
Consider the housing crisis: If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not federally backed mortgage houses, would it have been possible for them to overheat, then collapse the entire housing market by lending to those who could not afford the overpriced houses their policies created? By applying its practices across the entire housing market, it created a nation-sized disaster, and have obligated every taxpayer to pay for these bad loans.
If the federal government were not block-granting money for education would every state be trying to push their education program toward federal levels of mediocrity instead of trying to use their own funds to the greatest advantage for the benefit of their citizens? If the result of cutting the federal budget was that the federal Department of Education was shuttered, and the people of Utah wanted to have a state Department of Education, doesn't it stand to reason that the result would be more effective than the federal department? After all, the closer the tax dollars are spent to where they are collected, the more control those whose pockets are being picked have over how the money is spent.
If the federal budget was cut in half, how much of the land the federal government now controls would they be forced to return to the states? If Utah had control of all the land the federal government now controls within our state borders, how much better for Utah would the decisions about its stewardship be made by state legislators? How much might these decisions help the economy of Utah?
As for entitlements, if the federal budget was cut in half, wouldn't we be able to create our own retirement accounts or medical savings accounts that Washington D.C. politicians could not spend whenever they see something shiny they want? We are currently enjoying a (federal) payroll tax holiday.
Do you know that the payroll tax is money used to pay Social Security benefits, and at some point we will have to pay back the taxes that were not collected for the past year, and however much longer the tax holiday lasts?
Why should politicians be able to monkey with what is supposed to be your retirement safety net?
At some point in the near future, Americas will need to overcome their fear to of being free, of defending their constitutional liberties and responsibilities, and make some tough decisions in order to not become Greece or most of Europe. If we don't the American economy will take a back seat to Pacific Rim countries, or India, or South America. Without the will to take back control of their own responsibilities, and the money it takes to do so, there is little chance that the prosperity America has known will continue.
Mitchell is a blue-collar, public-school educated resident of North Ogden and a former resident of several other states, including Arizona.