Debt Debate: What Government Is

July 25, 2011

If it is true that a failure to increase the debt limit on August 2nd has the potential to bring about economic Armageddon, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves if it’s a good idea to allow the political class in Washington to continue collectively play God with our lives? After all, these people are fallible human beings.

In a similar vein, Sheldon Richman reminds us of what government really is in a new column on the issue of federal debt. I like Richman’s statement because one need not be a hardcore libertarian to appreciate the message:

Government is not some higher super-competent entity like the man pretending to be the Wizard of Oz wanted the people to think he was. It’s a coercive organization of limited, flawed, and essentially ignorant men and women who, having been anointed in an election after campaigns hawking snake oil, are presumptuous enough to think they are capable of making wise decisions on our behalf.

Having worked in both federal and state government, I know from first-hand experience that there’s no wizard behind the curtain. My gut tells me that some of the pundits and analysts who display an almost child-like belief in the capabilities of government might think differently had they spent time behind the curtain.

It is my hope that the circus-like atmosphere in Washington over raising the debt ceiling will cause more Americans to question why so much power and money has been placed in the hands of imperfect (to put it politely) men and women. Therefore, while I think the odds that Republicans and Democrats will strike a deal to substantively cut spending are somewhere around zero, perhaps the sordid spectacle will generate more popular support for downsizing the federal government.

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