Thursday, September 1, 2011
A recent letter identified excessive U.S. defense spending as "the elephant in the room," which no one has the political courage to confront. The writer makes a valid point.
But if excessive military spending is the elephant in the room, then social spending must be the whale.
Critics of military spending complain that allocating 22 percent of the federal budget to defense is too much. But just 50 years ago, before Johnson's Great Society, the failed federal war on poverty and the rise of government philanthropy, national defense accounted for over 50 percent of federal outlays.
We have created government without bounds
Imagine the outcry from today's social spenders if 50 percent of the budget went to defense!
Yet the 50 percent-plus figure is consistent with both longstanding historical levels and the plain wording of the Constitution, which makes national defense the paramount federal priority.
Granted we spend too much on defense. Our now routine global military interventionism is exorbitantly expensive and obviously unsustainable. But the vastly diminished share of today's budget allocated to defense only highlights the far more unrestrained growth that has occurred in social spending.
Social spending is so out of control that even if we eliminated every dollar of defense spending, it would reduce the current year's deficit by little more than half.
Today's fiscal lawlessness is the direct result of abandoning the narrowly defined historic and constitutional purposes of federal government. By demanding federal intervention for everything under the sun including poverty, recession, unemployment, ignorance, overproduction, poor planning, poor stewardship, poor life choices, etc., we have created a government without bounds.
As Jefferson said: "To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition."
The inordinate expansion of federal priorities is the primary reason not only for debt, but for the ongoing strife and gridlock in Washington and the increasing illusiveness of a governing consensus. There is just so much more to fight over than there was 50 years ago!
Socialism is the religion of government. It is addiction to control. It is the arrogance of presumptuous responsibility and the antithesis of liberty.
Whether packaged as social justice, centralized planning, tax-funded socialized false philanthropy, or regime change and global military interventionist paranoia, socialism, in its many faces, promises a future of perpetual debt, spending, dependency and moral and fiscal bankruptcy.