Government Addicts Anonymous

People who oppose raising the debt ceiling — or cutting non-defense spending from the government at all — are constantly on the defensive.

Yet nobody asks the advocates of the prevailing Obama/Republican policy of unlimited debt increases to defend themselves.

Why is it good economic policy to keep increasing spending and keep raising the debt ceiling? People who support this policy should be made to defend their case.

If increasing government debt, indefinitely into the future and beyond levels ever attained (even for fighting World War II) is good for the country, those engaged in this policy should be required to explain why.

Of course, the psychology of addiction will give us the answer.

When an individual is addicted to something that is ultimately self-defeating or even self-destructive, he keeps doing more and more of the same behavior to gain the same result.

A shopping addict will spend more and more money, in order to obtain the high that comes from spending. A gambling addict will keep gambling, just to maintain the present sense of relief or anxiety-reduction that comes from winning, then losing, then hoping to win again. Ditto for chemical addictions such as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

When confronted with the irrationality of what he or she is doing, the addict usually becomes hostile or defensive. Often, the addict will go on the attack against the person merely asking the obvious or reasonable questions: “Why do you keep doing this? What do you think will happen if you don’t stop?”

Supporters of the never-ending-raise-the-debt policy do the same thing. If you question the legitimacy of government continuing to raise the national debt into oblivion, you are labeled mean, nasty, irrational or (worst of all), “extreme.” You see what happens to politicians who even pretend to be against what’s happening in Washington DC. Ultimately, like Speaker of the House John Boehner, they simply give up because they do not wish to be unpopular.

But name-calling hostility does not alter the facts. Not when the government is spending and borrowing into oblivion, nor when an addict is gambling, snorting, drinking or smoking into oblivion.

“The debt” is not some pointless abstraction. Debts, even government debts, have to be paid off — in some form — someday. Right now, future generations of Americans not yet born are in debt to today’s Americans who wish to receive medical, retirement, agricultural, food or corporate benefits from the government. By what right do those of us living today place this obligation on people yet to be born in 2015, or even 2120? No answer is given, because the question is never asked.

Of course, it’s unlikely that any politician of any generation will ever demand that taxpayers pay off the debt. Even the hated “1 percent” of top-income earners could not begin to pay it off, assuming that we even have as many rich people in the future as our economic growth continues to decline. Perhaps the debt will come due in the form of the many unintended consequences that economic policies often bring about — inflation, deflation, etc. The point is: It can’t be escaped. Chickens have to come home to roost, eventually.

If I’m mistaken, and if there are no concerns or fears to arise from the continuing growth of government spending, debt and power, then those in favor of those policies should be required to explain why. Obama, in particular, should be required to explain why significantly less debt under the Bush Administration was a danger to the country, while even higher debt under his own terms in office is not a concern. Instead, we simply talk about how “mean” Republicans are, when the Republican leadership, at least, does nothing but give in to Obama’s every demand.

Watching what’s going on with our government spending is no different from watching or hearing about an addict. The mentality is exactly the same, only it’s playing out on a national/international scale, as opposed to just one person’s life.

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