It's been a while since I posted on here. My last diary was ripped to shreds by people who had the belief that I was a shill for a telecom company, rather than an employee of said company who was interested in using this community to help members save some money on their phone bills.
Obviously, I misjudged.
So, hit by the dual hammers of rejection by the Bright Orange Satan, and by depression over the political climate, I pulled away for some time. Over the last several weeks, I have become more involved, motivated by the primary season and the whack-a doodles on the right.
Last night I was in bed, worrying over my personal finances (and is there anyone on this site who doesn't do that occasionally?) and then I fell asleep. It was there that I had a nightmare that I was running for president. I was in a big ballroom with hundreds of people, and I was running around looking for senators because I had just unearthed a bombshell (there was a typo on Romney's birth certificate, which somehow meant that he was born in Canada).
After waking up and discovering that I wasn't going to have to give an acceptance speech to thousands of people (whew), I lay back and realized that many Republicans, pundits, and the American people have a fundamental misunderstanding about the role of the government in our country.
How many times have you heard some goober on the right (usually Romney, or Bush, or even Perot, or one of their surrogates) claim that America "Needs a businessman in charge"?
Quite often, right?
Why isn't this idea laughed out of whatever room in which it is espoused?
What is the fundamental role of a business? Yes, to provide a service, or a product, or even ideas. Companies from McDonald's to your local non-profit all provide something, whether it be Big Macs (MMMmmmm) or food for the homeless. But at the bottom, all these businesses need to make money. Even your local food bank could not survive without donations.
This is the misunderstanding. When we get a person up on the stage bleating about how the government should tighten its belt, how departments should be cut, programs should be gutted, and the deficit lowered, this is the reason for it. They are coming at the problem from a fundamentally incorrect position.
IT IS NOT THE JOB OF THE GOVERNMENT TO TURN A PROFIT.
If the deficit magically disappeared tomorrow, would that make a difference in your life? Would United States Incorporated send you a fat dividend check for living in a country where we took in more money than was spent? No, I don't think so either.
What people need to understand is that a country does not work like a business. A government has multiple duties. It should:
Protect the citizens of that country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Insure the rights of all citizens.
Foster an environment where every citizen has the opportunity to rise as high as their abilities will take them.
I am sure people in the comments below can add more duties, but it is only 9 AM. and I am still sleepy.
In fact, you could claim that a balanced budget is something that should be avoided (and not on economic grounds, a field about which I know almost nothing). Remember when we had a nice big budget surplus, and that friendly "compassionate conservative" came in and blew it all to hell with his tax cuts? And then we got in two wars and the economy tanked quicker than an economy-tanking machine? Would Bush have been in a position to make those humongous cuts if we didn't have a surplus? I would argue that a good position to be in would be to run a deficit permanently. That way, we have a reason to not make punitive cuts to programs, a conservative can't give his buddies grotesque tax breaks on the grounds that we have a surplus anyway, and every politician who wants to drag us into a war will have to answer the question of how he or she intends to pay for it.
For a person, it makes sense to cut expenses when times are tough. For a government, it is silly. In order to fulfill its duties, a government has the responsibility to lose money during an economic crisis so that the citizens of the nation the government protects will be able to survive. If it does otherwise, the government is negligent.
Of course, a negligent government is what many individuals seem to want. Romney, for instance, with his remarks about how awesome the regulators are in China, seems to fit this role admirably. His vision is one where the corporation reigns supreme and where the government is subsidiary to the business. Given his background, it is a position I can understand. But it is never one I will hold.