While the United States gorges itself on every form of government spending and dependency known to man, a quiet revolution is taking place across the pond. Since the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in 2010, Britain has embarked on a strategy to balance its budget in approximately five years. This effort has required cuts in social spending and benefits levels in the United Kingdom and has been widely criticized by the left as “balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.” What Prime Minister Cameron and his cabinet realize is that the best way to help the poor is to have a healthy, growing economy, not build dependency on government handouts. The results, after several hard years of budget pain, have been spectacular as growth in Britain took off in 2013–and looks to be even stronger in 2014.
Leadership demands that politicians make tough decisions that are best for the country and not only make easy political choices that are short–serving in the near term but harm the country in the long run. “Only by making fundamental changes in the shape and nature of the State will Britain again be able to live within its means and eventually reduce the tax burden on workers and firms. There are ‘big underlying problems’ in the economy that have not been fixed,” says Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, similar to the U.S. Treasury Secretary. My first thought after reading that statement was, Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to hear that here in America!
I have read with humor the plethora of articles now coming out in the European and American press wailing that Cameron’s austerity program is not really working, can’t work anywhere else, and that the U.K. economy is only growing because it dug itself such a deep hole. Guess what? The U.K. economy was in such a big hole because of the policies of the progressive Labor party that almost bankrupted the country! These arguments are really an admission of the failure of the socialist, Keynesian model of spending until the lights go out. As Margaret Thatcher so famously said, “The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
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What we have now in the United States is a situation where the economy is barely growing due to the ever growing burden of dependent citizens, regulation, and general government interference in the private market. To fund this growing bureaucracy and welfare state, the government at all levels needs to take more and more of a tax bite from the producing American and/or borrow more money. The debt service load grows higher and higher, further depressing the economy. It’s a vicious, downward spiral. Any intellectually honest person could see that is what is happening here in the United States. Luckily for America, the U.S. economy is deep and resilient to even the best efforts of a socialist administration and keeps grinding out growth. But at some point, when does Atlas shrug? When does the burden imposed by a freeloading citizenry and regulation-happy government overcome what is still the greatest, more fair economy in the world? Time will tell.
Small government conservatives can only hope that as the experiment in the United Kingdom in fiscal responsibility continues, and its fruits become known, that a majority of the American public will take heed and force our government to change. The problem is as the entrenched self-interest of the dependent population grows, this outcome will become harder and harder to achieve. One can only hope that there is a great American waiting in the wings to come forward and lead the country out of our abyss.
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