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The Curse of Spending

Jonathan Bydlak
Campaign For Liberty
April 24, 2010

You know, there’s a Chinese proverb that says that there are three curses, each one worse than the previous. The first of these curses is: “May you live in interesting times.” Well, the times we live in are certainly interesting.

We stand here today at a transformative moment in American history — at the front lines of what can only be called a revolution in thought. We are here today, like hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans — in cities all across the country — to exercise our basic right as citizens, as a free people in a democratic republic. We stand here today, peaceably assembled, petitioning our government for redress of our grievances. And we are here to tell our government one thing:

We stand here today with a crisis of creativity in our country. We look around and see problem after problem: Poverty. Millions unable to get health care. People out of work. It’s easy for all of us, no matter what our political views may be, to agree on what the problems are.

But though we all see these problems, for too long, we have seen just one solution — let the government do it. It’s their job. It’s their responsibility.

Well, the second Chinese curse is this: May you come to the attention of those in authority.

Well, let me tell you, we’ve definitely been getting attention from those in power.

We are citizens today living under a government that doesn’t represent us — its people. And we have made the decision, together, that we can no longer refuse to take action. And for that, we are drawing much attention.

But when I say ‘people,’ I should be clear, because I don’t just mean us here today, or our friends across the country. I mean all Americans, regardless of whether or not they’re a part of the tea party movement. For years, no matter the Administration, no matter which party controlled Congress, no matter who we elected, none of us has been represented by our government.

And why should anyone care? Why should anyone have bothered to pay attention to what we wanted? Why pay attention when we largely refused to take action — when we continued to let elected officials get away with whatever they wanted? We have congressional approval ratings in the teens and twenties, and yet re-election rates are in the 90s, and that’s unacceptable.

You know, thirty-two years ago, something remarkable happened in the state of California. In 1978, Californians stood up passed Proposition 13 overwhelmingly — a law hated so strongly by the political class, because it — of all things — made it more difficult for politicians to raise taxes.

But that’s not why Prop 13 was important. No, it was important for what it started — for what it signified. 43 states followed by passing some form of a tax limitation. In the late 70s, Americans realized that they’d been taxed too much for too long, and that it was time to do something about it.

But today the problem we face — the problem that is drawing us attention — is not our dislike of taxes. It is our solemn and firm rejection of completely out-of-control spending by politicians.

You know, to go off on a tangent for a second, Rodney Dangerfield once had a great line in Back to School that said, “You’ve always got to look out for #1, because if you don’t, you’ll end up stepping in #2.”

Well, pardon the analogy, but for too long, our elected officials have not been looking out for us — for the citizens who should be #1. And worst of all, they haven’t just mistakenly stepped in some #2 — they’ve thrown us into a $16 trillion dollar pile of it.

And that brings me to the third Chinese curse: May you find what you are looking for.

For too long, those who wanted big runaway government have gotten what they wanted.

We have a Democratically-controlled Congress this year that passed a new trillion dollar health care entitlement, all the while ignoring overwhelming public opposition.

But why should we be shocked when just 7 years ago, a Republican-controlled Congress passed a new half-trillion prescription drug plan that nobody wanted?

We have a Congress today that raises the federal debt ceiling whenever it “bumps up” against that ceiling.

But why should we be taken aback considering that Republicans raised that ceiling again and again when it was politically convenient to do so?

 It’s pretty sad when those in Congress don’t even know what the word ceiling means, isn’t it?

We have President Obama borrowing, printing and spending more than any president in history, in the supposed name of “job creation.”

But why should we be surprised when his Republican predecessor did the exact same thing?

We have a president now who wastes trillions of dollars overseas in multiple endless wars, sacrificing American lives, destroying our civil liberties at home, and shredding our Constitution into millions of tiny bits.

But why should we be surprised to see him merely continuing and expanding the policies initiated by George Bush?

And then, of course, we have the worst example of all — an example of government so out of control — an example so galling that it deserves special scorn, all its own.

And this time I’m talking about the bailouts.

A tag-team effort, foisted upon us by our last two presidents, a scheme that took hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, ignored the public outcry of those taxpayers, and then handed that money to the well-connected friends of unelected treasury secretaries and government officials, so that Wall Street millionaire bankers could keep making campaign contributions to both parties.

The truth is, we only really have one party with two competing factions: the “spend money over here” party, and the “spend money over there” party.

But what we realize today is that low taxes are not enough. Low taxes mean nothing if we don’t reduce spending as well. And fortunately for our future generations, more and more Americans are realizing this as well.

They’re realizing that the reckless spending of taxpayer money — our money — is just the beginning. Our government hasn’t just been eroding away our pocketbooks, but also the basic liberties that have for so long characterized our free society.

But we cannot — we must not — let lawmakers keep grabbing this power — the power to “solve” problems that they themselves created.

This may come as a surprise to some in Washington, but you know, you can’t run massive government programs like Medicare and Medicaid and the FDA and the medical boards, and many, many others and then say “the free market doesn’t work in health care, so we’ll run it, instead.”

You can’t put up roadblocks to interstate competition between insurance companies and then say “we need a government option because insurers don’t have enough competition.”

You can’t have the Fed and the Treasury and the SEC and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the FDIC and then say “we need to regulate financial instruments because the free market is failing.”

No. We live in a world where the easiest way for a federal agency to get more funding is to fail at what it does, and the easiest way for Congress and the President to grab more power is to create a problem. This has got to stop, and it’s got to stop now.

Because if it doesn’t stop, then as the Chinese curse suggests, we’ll find what we’re looking for.

So the next time there’s a Democrat who wants to spend money on a new health insurance bureaucracy, or a Republican who wants to spend on a new prescription drug entitlement, or a Democrat who wants to spend money on a supposed peace-keeping mission in Somalia, or a Republican who wants to spend money on war in Iraq — no matter what it is, and no matter how much you think it might be a good idea — you, me, all of us need to ask the question: Where is this money coming from?

Do I want to be taxed more to pay for this? Do I want the national debt to explode from more borrowing to pay for this? Do I want the Treasury and Federal Reserve to print more money to pay for this?

Or do I want to live my life, with as small a government as possible — a government that doesn’t threaten to bankrupt our finances or crush our currency. A government that doesn’t have the power to run roughshod over the freedoms that we value so much.

We cannot let these bad policies be ignored anymore. Every time we let the government reach into yet another part of our lives, there’s only less freedom left for us.

So do not let public debate be drowned out by those who shout “obstructionist!” every time someone opposes your ideas. Those of us opposed to bad laws aren’t obstructionists. We are citizens, with ideas we care passionately about.

And we demand to be free and responsible for ourselves. We don’t want handouts; we don’t want special advantages, whether those are farm subsidies or social safety nets.

We want a government that acts in accordance with the people, not in defiance of them. A government that does not trod about on our basic liberties, the economy, or our livelihood.

We must make runaway government spending a political curse on those who support it, before it becomes a curse on us financially. We must make our will known; we must ensure that our demand for a government of the people, by the people, for the people remains forever a reality — and not just an idea.

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