Shrink that Gut: The National Diet We Must Follow

For all of you who have every begun a physical diet, do you remember the hardest part of the process? Yeah. It was the “change your habits” part of things–usually either the habit of eating more or the habit of exercising less.

Back in November of 2008, I responded the following:

“Streamlining the federal budget and eliminating wasteful spending,” said South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, “will jump-start efforts to restore fiscal responsibility and accountability to the federal government.”

with this

We do not need to streamline the budget, we need to reduce it. It needs a diet, not a girdle. As for “wasteful spending” I don’t think you’re thinking what I’m thinking, ma’am. For me, wasteful spending is the government spending my money on anything for which it has no constitutional basis. I could make a list, but I doubt it would do much good. Now, on the “fiscal responsibility and accountability” part. Please, do you take me for an absolute fool? Everyone who goes to Washington, with perhaps the exception of Mr. Smith, gives lip service to things like keeping budgets and deficits under control until they too are allowed to view the wellspring of cash and take their very own buckets to dip in the well.

Things have not changed for the better since that time. Small, incremental, painless measures will not get us where we must go if we are to continue to function as a sovereign nation. It does seem as though we’ve sent a few more Mr and Ms Smiths to Washington–but not enough.

P&R hits the bull between the eyes:

So, if you really are serious about fixing the debt problem we’ve got in this country, start coming up with things the feds buy that you benefit from that you’re willing to do without. We’re never going to fix this as long as we think we can balance the budget on somebody else’s dime, whether it’s “the rich” or “deadbeats” or “foreign aid” or all the other easy things. Yeah, we should eliminate CPB, NEA, NEH, and a host of other ways we fund the left, not to mention various tax code provisions that distort markets and lead to poorer allocations of resources, but those combined do not even amount to a drop in the comprehensive ocean of our debt.

I’ve been paying into Social Security for 35 years. I’ll give up my social security “pension”. I’ll give up any shot at Medicare, too. I can do without the federal education money both in local school districts and higher ed. As a veteran, I’m entitled to certain VA health benefits, too. You can keep them. Right now I’ve got a VA loan on my house so it’s a done deal, but go ahead and cut those out, too. I have some GI bill benefits, too, but I’ll let them go.

I’ve previously advocated for getting a few cents on the dollar from my “investment” in such things as Social Security. I believe now that such partial measures are insufficient. As P&R notes, we will need to simply write off the things that we can (not “want to” but “can”) do without.

We must (I must, you must) determine that we will do without things we are owed, things we have planned on, things which are nice, things which make life simpler for us. We are all of us–some more then others–complicit in the decisions which have brought us to our current state.

If we do not do without now based on our own choices, we will be doing without in the near future. Diet or deprivation? Self-control or starvation?

It is a time for choosing.