Watching Republicans and Democrats squabble over the so-called fiscal cliff is like watching a duo of burglars arguing over who keeps your flat screen television. No matter which party prevails, you lose.
Tenthers, as a class, tend to be more pre-occupied with the liberty cliff, whose precipitous incline we fell off long ago. The other various cliffs – fiscal, debt, tax policy, entitlements – are really just the jagged rocks we’ve met on the way down. Which is why Tenthers tend not to wade into the whole fiscal cliff debate. If your causes are liberty, constitutional rule of law and sound currency, then it seems downright silly to sweat the details of how much the federal government should raise the debt ceiling to pay for foreign wars, Obamaphones and highways named after U.S. Senators.
Consider the numbers. The federal government now spends $3,800,000,000,000.00 per year. Various taxes supply about $2,900,000,000,000.00 of that amount. The free ride component – the annual deficit – has now accrued to a staggering $16,000,000,000,000.00 in national debt.
Faced with these appalling details, the Democrats (and Paul Krugman) respond with calls to tax and spend more. Republicans, the supposedly more fiscally continent of the two parties, grumble on about tax increases and then invariably capitulate to more borrowing and spending. And with the deck chairs on the Titanic nicely rearranged, the American people are once again free. By “free” I mean free to watch Dancing with the Stars and Real Housewives of Cleveland while an omnipotent federal government further enslaves us into a highly regulated, pathetically dependent blob of couch potatoes.
So what would a Tenther do? I’m glad you asked! Here’s 4 steps a Tenther would take:
1. Sell off all federal lands outside of Washington, DC. With title to 760 million acres, the US Government is the fifth largest landowner in the world. Besides being a lot of lawns to mow, it’s tough pretending to be a sovereign state when the federal government owns 85% of you (i.e., Nevada). Even a promiscuous reading of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution would deny the federal government the right to play landlord for parks, cattle grazing, oil leases and the like.
2. Bring our troops home, all of them. We have 53,000 active military personnel in Germany, 11,000 in Italy, and over 60,000 Afghanistan. In fact, we have uniformed Americans stationed in 150 countries. You know that bit in the Constitution about us being the world’s policeman? Oh, right, it doesn’t exist. Plus it’s plenty expensive with scant benefit. Playing al-Qaida whack-a-mole has cost us $1.3 trillion since 2001, and no matter how many we kill, the rest still hate us. Go figure.
3. Close every single federal department that is not authorized by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution: Agriculture, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education and Homeland Security. I know, I know, that would make slime-ball lobbyists work harder because they’d have to travel to 50 state capitals to plunder your tax dollars rather than just one, but who said life was fair?
4. End Social Security. Before you scream that I’m heartlessly pushing granny off the (fiscal) cliff, let me note that we would be morally obligated to keep funding Social Security for those now or almost receiving it, while we push retirement schemes to the States or the people, where they belong.
As the sporting type, I’m willing to wager that suggestions 1 through 4 above will not be considered by this Congress, regardless of which party’s sticky fingers hold the gavel. And about that cliff? Better buckle up.