- As the nation continues to spend like a drunken sailor,
pushing the national debt in excess of $14 trillion and our present unpaid
commitments to entitlements to over $62 trillion, we accelerate toward
the day (within the next five to ten years) when just paying interest on
the debt we are amassing will exceed $700 billion and just paying entitlements
annually will exceed $2 trillion. After interest on the debt and entitlements,
there will be precious little left for discretionary spending. In short,
as economists from Clinton OMB Chief Alice Rivlin to Bush Comptroller General
David Walker have told us, the spending spree is unsustainable. That means
either uncontrolled spending will bring down the entire economy and with
it the government, or the threat of collapse will yield a political change
that results in massive spending cuts. Either way, the federal government
is about to become much smaller.
- With rare exceptions like Paul Ryan, Ron Paul, and Rand
Paul, few in Congress accept that big government's days are numbered and
that to avert a catastrophe dramatic reductions in spending must occur
right now. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid prefers a dream world where
government growth never ends. He speaks of continuing Social Security and
Medicare "as we know" them, blithely ignoring the economic reality
that entitlement spending is unsustainable, in the apparent hope that the
crisis coming to those programs will arrive after he retires from the Senate.
Most others continue to play the Washington spending game also, doing nothing
to reign in the bureaucracy and still finding ways to devote tax dollars
for pet projects (while at the same time mouthing platitudes about fiscal
- The President and the Senate, in particular, act like
members of the Court of Louis the XVI in 1791 on the eve of the French
Revolution. The party goes on with occasional fits of reality setting in,
but nothing so much as is capable of altering a course to which they have
become addicted from years of profligacy. So long as they can get away
with spending lavishly, they will. As soon as the party is forced to end,
however, and before the public in anger rises up against them, they will
have vanished from Washington, clinging to their fat retirement pensions
and to new scams to plunder private sector sources of wealth.
- Government growth occurs even if spending levels are
held at present rates. The bureaucracy finds ways to expand even with reductions
in funding. Entitlements grow automatically as ever more boomers enter
the Medicare and Social Security roles. Federal spending is like a fissure
through a gaping hole in a dam, but while money still flows a day will
soon come when it will all dry up.
- The basic, simple reality is that government is a parasite.
Early in his administration, President Thomas Jefferson recognized that
fact. He wrote to Thomas Cooper on November 29, 1802, "I think we
have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites
living on the labor of the industrious." He wrote those words when
the federal government was equal to less than a fraction of a percent of
the gross domestic product. Present federal spending exceeds the GDP.
- Because government is a parasite, its survival depends
on the health of its host. If its host, the economy, withers and dies,
so too does the government. If its host prospers, government does likewise
with one major exception. If government so grows in size, scope, and burden
that it becomes the underlying cause of the death of its economy host,
then even an economy on the rebound will not be enough to prevent ultimate
collapse of both. That is where we are today: the federal government is
a leviathan. It overtaxes, regulates every aspect of enterprise, and finds
by the week new ways to increase its dominion and control over the market.
Government growth is so out of control, so profligate, that even an economy
on the rebound will not produce enough revenue to prevent the ultimate
collapse of the economy and the government.
- The sobering reality, to which all will eventually come,
is that the federal government is unaffordable and must downsize and downsize
dramatically or the game is up. It is not enough to cut a few hundred billion
a year when the annual deficit exceeds a trillion. It is not possible to
tax the rich and not increase unemployment, thereby forcing even more welfare
dollars from federal coffers. There is only one direction that is sustainable,
that permits survival. That course involves a dramatic reduction in the
size and scope of the federal government.
- The present politics of cutting spending involve risks
most politicians are still unwilling to take. They are cowards, reprehensible
individuals who value themselves more than their country. They fear alienating
constituents dependent on the dole. In a very short time, however, our
combined national debt and poor economy will create a new political dynamic.
A burgeoning body of the public will form a new powerful response to the
old politics of tax and spend. Laboring under the crush of a floundering
economy, a heavy corporate tax burden, and stultifying regulation, small
business leaders and the middle class will unite in ever greater numbers
and will make inaction a political liability. At that point, politicians
will begin turning. Those of a leftward leaning perspective will call for
deep cuts in the defense budget, increases in taxes on the most productive
elements of society, and elimination of entitlements for those with the
financial wherewithal. Those of a rightward leaning perspective will call
for reform of entitlements, privatizing much of it, decreases in taxes
that prevent economic growth, and dramatic reduction in the regulatory
- In time, it will become apparent to all that any increases
in taxes will be economically disastrous to the fragile, overburdened economy.
That will leave but one direction-cutting government. If politicians cut
enough, they, the economy, and the government will survive. If they do
not, they, the economy, and the government will come crashing down. It
will then be a day like that following the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.
We will return to our roots and see that there once was a great American
limited federal republic and that it existed without molesting the economy,
reaping the rewards of freedom and progress.
- The central question is not whether dramatic downsizing
is coming but when and how it will be achieved. Just a few decades ago,
the Peoples Republic of China came to the startling realization that planned
economies are bankrupt economies and that the parasite of government is
powerless if the economy is bankrupt. In a dramatic change of direction,
China embraced a free market and has, ever since, grown to become a leading
economic powerhouse in the world, threatening United States global economic
and geopolitical dominance. As we fold in upon ourselves, China is building
the largest military in the world and has global ambitions to replace the
West, which ambitions are achievable if our nation continues in the direction
- If we fail to eliminate from the national political agenda
the planned economy President Obama loves so dearly, we will experience
(to an ever greater extent) poverty aplenty and an ever downward declination
into the abyss of destitution and mediocrity. We have less than a decade
to save the nation. If we downsize to balance the budget and reduce the
national debt through elimination of those government departments and programs
that inhibit free enterprise, we may yet avoid a catastrophe. But, if we
do not, a catastrophe will come and the upshot of that catastrophe will
be a dramatic government downsizing nevertheless. Either way, within the
next ten years we will witness a significant reduction in the size and
scope of the federal government.
- The days of big government are numbered.
- © 2012 Jonathan W. Emord
- Jonathan W. Emord is an attorney who practices constitutional
and administrative law before the federal courts and agencies. Congressman
Ron Paul calls Jonathan "a hero of the health freedom revolution"
and says "all freedom-loving Americans are in [his] debt . . . for
his courtroom [victories] on behalf of health freedom." He has defeated
the FDA in federal court a remarkable eight times, six on First Amendment
grounds, and is the author of Amazon bestsellers The Rise of Tyranny, and
Global Censorship of Health Information. He is also the American Justice
columnist for U.S.A. Today Magazine. For more info visit Emord.com.