Friday, November 5, 2010
America the Superpower
I don't talk about politics very often on this blog because I know it can be a polarizing subject and my aim is to bring people together, not to divide them. However, given the recent midterm elections and the ever growing hostility between the two political parties I thought I should take a minute to reflect on the current political situation.
The focus of the midterm campaigns was on the nation's financial situation, to include the economy. This makes sense, given that so many people are unemployed (or underemployed). People are worried about the national deficit. They believe that our government is spending too much money and digging a financial hole that we'll never be able to get out of. I'm not going to pretend to know the actual ramifications of an expanding deficit. I'm assuming that at some point the taxpayers will be forced to pay for it. I don't think anyone would argue that we should just continue spending and increasing our national debt without worrying about it. The conflict arises over how to go about decreasing the deficit.
Now I'm no economist, but I have done a little reading on the subject. From what I understand, there are two basic ways to decrease the national deficit: raise taxes (so the government takes in more money) or reduce spending (so the government spends less money). Raising taxes is not popular. No one wants to see more money coming out of their paychecks. What about reducing spending? Well, here's the thing. A significant majority of government spending (and I mean a SIGNIFICANT majority) goes to pay for the following: Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, public assistance programs, and defense. What politician wants to risk their career by proposing cuts to disabled people, uninsured children, or the military?
So you can see the problem. If we are to decrease the deficit in any significant way we have a choice between two unpleasant options. Either raise taxes or cut government programs for some of our neediest citizens. Or...reduce defense spending.
I work for the military and I support our service members 100%. But here's something to think about. What are our nation's priorities? People say they want to decrease the deficit but they are not willing to give anything up in order to do it. America is the only remaining world "superpower." We need a big military so we can send troops all over the world to defend our way of life. Or so goes popular sentiment. I wonder though, can America really afford to be a superpower anymore? I'm not saying we should cut our military down to nothing, but perhaps we could just mind our own business and let the world deal with itself. That's not to say we shouldn't get involved in conflicts that threaten the safety of our country, but do we really need troops everywhere that we have them? We have military bases all over the world in places where there isn't any conflict at all and hasn't been for decades. Meanwhile, here at home, the economy goes down the tubes and we bicker about how to decrease the deficit.
It seems to me like our country has some hard choices to make. The fact of the matter is, taxes are going to have to be raised, either now or later. AND spending is going to have to be cut from places we don't want to cut it. So what we really need to do as a nation is examine our priorities. What is most important to us? Where do we need to spend the most money? Where can we spend less money? It's just something to think about...