Our leadership has been steering the ship for the last forty years on the premise that we will choose fiscal and social priorities, acquiesce to the political realities of not raising taxes, and print money to make up the difference. Our country must now act upon a different order. We must set a budget maximum and then set highest priorities to reach that budget.
This budgeting process is completed collegiately every year by all private sector businesses without gnashing of teeth. Each year we set budgets and debate which items on our wish list must wait another year to be implemented. The painful truth is that some items will be slashed.
When times were good, I took my entire company and our families to Disney for a Christmas Weekend with gifts and visits to dinner from Mickey himself. In tough times, the lavishness has been replaced with a subdued dinner. This year we are talking about working together at the salvation army breakfast. Our mentality of teaming together for survival is the mentality yet to surface fully in Washington, but it must.
As disheartening as it may be, tough debates must begin to reach consensus on how to slash the federal budget holistically. Noone gains when Republicans play idiotic games cutting pet budget items to beat their war drums for their political base or when Democrats clamor that no cuts can be made to sacred cows.
If Steven Tyler and J Lo can slash and burn Idol pets to keep the top 24 out of over 150 singers in a week at Hollywood then our nation’s brightest leaders ought to be able to mull over the top 60 cents of every dollar we spend to keep the very highest priorities.
What happens to the rest of our critical priorities? They get pushed to the states and then the cities, each that have no money and that will be forced by crisis to slash even further.
Critical priorities and charities will go unfunded and families and communities will have to take up the slack. Scenes from Walton’s mountain will play out again in America.
We will have orderly retreat from the high water social mark we set in the previous baby boomer generation, remembering our path so that we may return. The alternative will be a full scale chaotic retreat into reckless abandonment of our duties to society as our economy collapses for want of disciplined retraction.