The New York Times recently quoted Mayor Don Plusquelic of Akron, Ohio, in an article about city mayors contemplating and threatening bankruptcy as the only way out of their monster deficits - save, of course, an Obama bail-out.
"Let me go back to the world I lived in two or three years ago, where people would come in and say, hey, we need this new park or this new recreation facility and I could say 'OK, we'll do that'," Plusquelic said in the Jan. 22 article.
Perhaps if he and other mayors, governors and state legislators, Congress and presidents had said no to some things they now wouldn't have to say no to everything.
President Barack Obama would have us believe he has pulled the economy back from the brink by multiplying our debt-load, destroying industries, and demonizing business, and will now turn his attention, finally, after repeated promises, to magically creating millions of jobs.
He ignores the fact that everything beneath his ivory tower where he dreams his fantastical dreams is rotten and rotting further. Cities, states, pension funds as well as the federal government, Social Security, Medicare, all broke. Broke. Broke. New federal schemes like Obamacare push monster-sized unfunded mandates and costs downstream to these already functionally bankrupt state governments. The President is flushing, presumably thinking all the crap he is flushing just disappears rather than going somewhere.
The bottom line is this: fantasies must end. Saying yes must end. Everybody who can say no must now say no to everything for quite some time to come.
Yes, having a bicycle (or Xbox) may very well build a child's coordination and motor skills and enhance his self-esteem and refusing to provide him a bicycle may stunt his growth, make him subject of ridicule or make him hostile. But when a family is broke, Dad must tell the boy no, you can't have a bicycle.
I know an authentic austerity program when I see one. For a handful of years, when I was a boy, our family was broke. We could not afford heating oil for our home, kept the thermostat at 50 even when temperatures were below freezing outdoors, and on the worst nights, slept in sleeping bags in the dining room in front of the wood-burning fireplace fueled by wood gathered from the woods - not bought, and took turns with 2-hour shifts staying awake to add sticks and newspaper logs to keep it burning.
We ate macaroni and cheese a lot. Diluted milk with water 50-50 for morning cereal. No long-distance phone calls. All errands lumped to one day; no hopping in the car and running hither and yon everyday, etc. The details aren't important, other than to say that, whether practical or symbolic, the answer to everything requiring money or use of a credit card save a major medical emergency was no. I know an austerity program when I see one, and neither the federal government or any state or city is yet on one.
Instead, the first thing the mayors do is cut cops and firefighters, garbage and snow removal, and, if they can, school teachers as means of terrorizing citizens into voting for tax increases. Admittedly, mayors have limited options, but there is still much to cut before the cop on the beat.
At the federal level, no could be said to everything but national defense, and that's a lot. Politicians get and hold power by saying yes, so it is antithetical for them to say no. They'll only do it if forced by us or, finally, ultimately, the most dire of crisis - then too late.
The question is: will we the people provide the adult supervision needed? Will we apply and keep up the pressure to stop spending - especially the ivory tower kind, on mythical green energy jobs or asinine infrastructure projects no one wants? Like the slow-speed train in Ohio that Governor Kasich wisely refused the stimulus money for and after-fact financial burden of.
Will we harangue the media daily when it lets claims of increased government debt development as necessary stimulus pass unchallenged? Will we defend and reward those who say no and punish those who say yes, at the polls?