Philosophy versus Plan
Philosophy versus Plan
February 18, 2011
If you think government should reduce spending, that’s a philosophy, not a plan.
If you think small government is good, that’s a philosophy, not a plan.
If you think the government should provide a safety net for the poor, that’s a philosophy, not a plan.
Somehow we elected a bunch of philosophers to run the country. I hope they find out how many angels are dancing on the head of the pin before the country goes broke.
Sometimes people think they have a plan when in reality they have half a plan. For example, a number of you forwarded me links to John Stossel’s article in Reason that has specific suggestions for cutting the budget. I’m going to assume his numbers add up if you ignore wind-down costs and such. I’ll even accept the notion that a number of government functions he suggests eliminating might work better in the private sector. But where he recommends elimination of the Energy Department (which I assume means the Department of Energy) I’m left wondering who would take over the job of radioactive waste disposal. That sounds kind of important. That’s just one of the things they do.
Stossel also recommends eliminations of the Department of Education to save money. Admittedly, when I read a description of that department’s function, I can’t tell why they exist. But it doesn’t pass the sniff test that you can eliminate a $94 billion per year function (per Stossel) without some sort of impact. Is there no downside whatsoever?
Some folks suggest simply reducing the rate of growth in social programs as an easy fix. But if the population of retirees is ballooning, a flat budget turns into a huge reduction of funds per person in a decade or two. It’s not a plan unless you can describe what happens then. If your answer is “not my problem” you have a philosophy and not a plan. A plan is more along the lines of “25% of poor senior citizens will become homeless by 2030. The rest will move in with relatives and suck up the family’s funds that would have gone toward leisure in some cases and educating the next generation in others.” You might prefer that outcome over the alternative of government spending, but you don’t have a plan until you acknowledge it.
Our Republican leaders have a philosophy and no plan that makes the math work. Obama and the Democrats have a philosophy and no plan that makes the math work. Stossel and the folks in the Libertarian camp have half a plan.
If you can describe your political position with one word, you’re part of the problem. Political groups confuse philosophies with plans. When you identify with a group, you become a philosopher. I suppose everyone assumes the plan is someone else’s job.
I’d like to see a Constitutional Amendment that makes anyone in federal office ineligible for another elected term if the budget isn’t balanced during the current term.
I wonder how hard it is to amend the Constitution in the Internet age. Isn’t that sort of thing easier now?