America is racing toward bankruptcy, with debts beyond any ability to repay. The debt clock stands near 17 trillion, with future combined federal liabilities (social security, prescriptions drugs, Medicare, ect.) at 126 trillion, an incomprehensible sum. Yet we still beg federal funds. Why? The government has no money. To feed its gluttony, it borrows every cent it gives and vastly more. Why do we add to it, boarding a rapidly sinking ship, only to sink it further?
Conservatives routinely bewail the entitlement mentality. Lest we forget, cities, counties and states can embrace entitlement, as well. Under our Constitution, the federal government has only 26 responsibilities: twenty for Congress, six to the president. Funding non-federal projects, such as Alpine’s $750,000 flood mitigation project, is not among the 26 duties, yet that request graces the desk of federal bureaucrats.
It’s not that the project is not necessary or good; it’s just not a federal matter, and making it so embraces entitlement. If the project is necessary, it should be locally funded with citizen support, strong priorities, and a paring knife aimed at current expenditures.
America, under our original Constitution, became great through independence. As a basic system, anything non-essential fell to private enterprise. Anything essential for the community was funded there; ditto for the county, double ditto for the state. Each state was an independent laboratory; a sovereign body with the duty to care for its own. Beyond what all states needed, such as a national navy, unified postal system, uniform bankruptcy laws and patents, a universal monetary system, the states were the boss. There was no whining to the feds.
Things have changed! Now we “run home to papa”—the federal government. But papa is broke; he has no money. His life savings are gone, he’s in hock to the bank for a whole lot more than he owns and the banks have threatened to shut him down. Yet we still run to papa for funds. As an example, students go to him for loans—almost half (45%) of Utah graduates owe the Feds over $17,000 at graduation, with 1 trillion owed nationally. Their grandparents bought houses for that amount two generations ago. It is not one of the 26 federal duties to loan money to students. In a tight job market, can they repay, or will we excuse the debts as a down payment into Entitlement Villa?
How about if we leave Papa and support ourselves? Personal responsibility is the basis of a constitutional republic. Without it; with papa paying the bills, we cannot be a constitutional republic; we must be a socialist nation, where people, businesses, and governments need nursery care. The more money we take from the feds, the more they can dictate to us. You pay your bills, you make the decisions; someone else pays, he tells you what to do. Freedom versus control; it’s a simple equation. Entitlement saps our strength, convinces us that we are helpless, and we become slaves. With our subscription to civic entitlement, we reap a culture of slavery.
Do we want freedom, or do we not? This is not a cake-and-eat-it-too deal: either we care for ourselves, or we let the federal government do it. Which? If freedom is our goal, personal and civic responsibility bid us abandon our place in line at the federal feeding trough, even for pet projects.
Probably all of us have partaken of the entitlement feast, though perhaps not knowingly or willingly. It has become a way of life, but it exacts an indelible toll. Federal money is habit forming. Like street drugs, it sucks your resolve, crushes your future, and makes you dependent.
What do we want? It’s our decision: freedom, with its responsibility and self-sacrifice, or ever-growing social and economic slavery? We should actively make the decision, however, not continue to bellyache about entitlement while we practice it. Hypocrisy is not good for the soul.