The tough choices

This is why our national deficit is so large:

Everyone, in principle, wants to balance the budget and cut the deficit, but no one wants to actually make any of the tough choices necessary to accomplish it.

By and large, a majority of Americans would rather keep spending at current levels for a wide range of programs: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, agricultural subsidies, unemployment assistance, etc. This same survey shows that a majority of Americans are opposed to eliminating various tax deductions, increasing the retirement age, or increasing taxes on gasoline.

As a nation, we want to have our cake and eat it, too. One can only imagine the tough spot this puts our elected officials in, as many of them are sent to Washington with the conflicting messages of: “Reduce the deficit!” and “Don’t raise my taxes or cut my government benefits!”

In a democracy, our elected officials are theoretically supposed to represent the priorities and views of their constituents. It’s easy to blame them for our nation’s problems, but ultimately they do only what they’re incentivized to do by their constituents: us. Once we’re willing to make the hard choices (i.e. pay more taxes AND cut government services) our elected officials will follow as they seek for us to reelect them.

Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve.” – George Bernard Shaw

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