On this date in 1776, visionaries from 13 New England colonies declared independence from the monarchy of Great Britain. That declaration was fulfilled by the Revolutionary War, which had begun one year prior and would last another six years. Our founding fathers, ably led by first President George Washington, structured the newly formed United States of America as a group of states under a single national government. Thus we were differentiated from the European model of separate entities (countries), with no unifying set of rules and regulations (central government).
Today, more than two centuries later, we have migrated to a central government that appeases its citizens, just as modern European states continually appease theirs. In the late 1980s, many European countries joined together to eliminate their individual currencies in favor of the euro, which was to compete with the dollar in the world market. Unfortunately those euro countries have since been racing to see which could give the most handouts to their citizens … ignoring the very economic rules they had agreed to when they bonded together. The result is that, collectively, these 17 countries have a record 11.1 percent unemployment rate. All but Germany buckled to popular pressures, and now the question looms as to whether the euro can even survive. I doubt it. Most of Europe is choking with debt; Germany, the most stable of the euro zone, has tired of feeding the financial gluttony of its peers.
Sadly, the past two U.S. presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have behaved like those gluttonous euro nations. The Bush administration lowered taxes in the midst of a large-scale war, with the result of a huge debt increase. The Obama administration created two programs that require significant administrative dollars—health care reform and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—and consequently our national debt is ballooning.
We the people have been asking the wrong questions. For every new program, we should be asking, “How will we pay for it?” That litmus-test approach would allow us to measure the importance of any program or perk relative to the majority of Americans. Had we been asking that question and forcing honest answers, we would have taken a much different look at the ponderous Transportation Security Agency (TSA). We would have crafted affordable healthcare reform that makes sense. And we would never have conjured up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Happy Independence Day! May we become independent again!