“We’re going to have to jump-start this economy. That’s going
to cost some money,” Barack Obama said on January 7, 2009. That comment
came from one side of his mouth. From the other we heard, “We committed
to changing the way our government in Washington does business, so that we’re
no longer squandering billions of tax dollars on programs that have outlived
their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of a lobbyist or an interest
The question is which is it going to be? You can’t have it
both ways. I hope what we are hearing is simply more meaningless political
rhetoric while federal business goes on as usual.
Nearly 40 years of unabated federal growth initiated by the “Great
Society,” foolish programs, rules, and regulations got us into
this mess. The American public, with few exceptions, has elected representatives
incapable, inexperienced, and ill-equipped to provide the leadership
this country needs and deserves. Instead, we have elected people who
pander to polls and special interest groups and who lack, almost to
a person, the background, experience, and courage to make responsible
management and leadership decisions.
What successful corporation would hire Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi,
Harry Reid, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, or Trent Lott to actually
run or manage their company? None. Why? Because none has the experience
or background to do so. Yet, voters have “hired” these
individuals to run the largest and most complex “company” the
world has every known.
The unfortunate truth is the president has even less experience or
background to run this country than the congressional leadership. Of
course, it could be argued our elected leaders surround themselves
with “experts” to help them make good decisions. If only
this were true. A brief look at the “experts” shows they
are for the most part panderers and political junkies. The reality
is frightening. Remember that the “experts” were in charge
when we got into this mess.
While these frank comments will be discounted by those they describe
and their supporters, it is easy to demonstrate their accuracy. All
we have to do is to look around — at the financial mess, the health
care mess, the education mess. Or we can look at the energy crisis,
the Social Security debacle, the endless foreign entanglements in which
we are caught up.
Federal debt on every American is now more than $60,000 and growing
by $3,500 each year, excluding interest.
Congress and the president would like us to believe they are working
on a solution to the problems our nation faces. However, the solution
they propose pours gasoline on a fire already burning out of control.
So, what is the better solution? It is quite simple but painful: Put
the federal government on a 12-step program.
1. Immediately stop deficit spending -- no matter how painful.
2. Cut 15 percent from the federal budget (not 15 percent from the
growth but 15 percent of what was budgeted last year).
3. Begin to repeal every federal rule or regulation that does not prohibit
or punish a common law crime.
4. Abolish the U. S. Department of Education (education belongs in
the hands of local school boards and not federal bureaucrats).
5. Adopt no-nonsense zero-based budgeting for the entire federal government.
6. Abolish all campaign finance laws and replace them with a single
— all campaign contributions (hard and soft money) must be reported
within 72 hours of an election.
7. Close 90 percent of our foreign military bases.
8. Limit the number of federal employees to the current number.
9. Reduce federal employment 25 percent over the next eight years.
10. Give the president the line-item veto.
11. Impose a mandatory three-year prison term on any elected official
or government employee (federal, state, or local) who takes a bribe
or extorts from a citizen in exchange for performing his duty or responsibility.
12. Prohibit the federal government from engaging in anything it is
not specifically permitted to do constitutionally.
Each and every one of these 12 steps is necessary and will happen
one way or the other. They will happen in a planned and orderly manner,
or they will happen as our fiscal meltdown is happening. They will
be disorderly, exceptionally painfully, and no one will know when or
what the next unpleasant surprise will be. If we do not take charge
of the process, the process will take charge of us.
Are those we have elected up to the task? Only time will tell. Is
the task difficult? Yes! Impossible? No.
If we fail, we can expect 20-percent unemployment, hyperinflation,
a further devalued dollar, street riots, and a dramatic decline in
our standard of living.
Are these predictions far-fetched? I really hope they are. However,
the people who got us here are still in charge. Unless we replace them
or force them to take these steps, they will continue taking the wrong
ones. The consequences are not difficult to predict.
A Voice from Fly-Over
A Voice from Fly-Over Country is copyright (c) 2009 by Robert
L. Hale and the Fitzgerald Griffin
All rights reserved.
Robert L. Hale received his J.D. in law from Gonzaga University Law
School in Spokane, Washington. He is founder and director of a non-profit
public interest law firm. For more than three decades he has been involved
in drafting proposed laws and counseling elected officials in ways
to remove burdensome and unnecessary rules and regulations.
See a complete biographical sketch.
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