Mark Steyn.

I suppose it’s possible to take this recurring melodrama seriously, but there’s no reason to. The problem facing the United States government is that it spends over a trillion dollars a year that it doesn’t have. If you want to make that number go away, you need either to reduce spending or increase revenue. With the best will in the world, you can’t interpret the election result as a spectacular victory for less spending. Indeed, if nothing else, the unfortunate events of Nov. 6 should have performed the useful task of disabusing us poor conservatives that America is any kind of “center-right nation.” A few months ago, I dined with a (pardon my English) French intellectual who, apropos Mitt Romney’s stump-speech warnings that we were on a one-way ticket to Continental-sized dependency, chortled to me, “Americans love Big Government as much as Europeans. The only difference is that Americans refuse to admit it.”

My Gallic charmer is on to something. According to the most recent (2009) OECD statistics: Government expenditures per person in France, $18,866.00; in the United States, $19,266.00. That’s adjusted for purchasing-power parity, and, yes, no comparison is perfect, but did you ever think the difference between America and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys would come down to quibbling over the fine print? In that sense, the federal debt might be better understood as an American Self-Delusion Index, measuring the ever-widening gap between the national mythology (a republic of limited government and self-reliant citizens) and the reality (a 21st century cradle-to-grave nanny state in which, as the Democrats’ Convention boasted, “government is the only thing we do together.”).

Generally speaking, functioning societies make good-faith efforts to raise what they spend, subject to fluctuations in economic fortune: Government spending in Australia is 33.1 percent of GDP, and tax revenues are 27.1 percent. Likewise, government spending in Norway is 46.4 percent, and revenues are 41 percent – a shortfall but in the ballpark. Government spending in the United States is 42.2 percent, but revenues are 24 percent – the widest spending/taxing gulf in any major economy.

So all the agonizing over our annual trillion-plus deficits overlooks the obvious solution: Given that we’re spending like Norwegians, why don’t we just pay Norwegian tax rates?


So, given that the ruling party will not permit spending cuts, what should Republicans do? If I were John Boehner, I’d say: “Clearly there’s no mandate for small government in the election results. So, if you milquetoast pantywaist sad-sack excuses for the sorriest bunch of so-called Americans who ever lived want to vote for Swede-sized statism, it’s time to pony up.”

OK, he might want to focus-group it first. But that fundamental dishonesty is the heart of the crisis. You cannot simultaneously enjoy American-sized taxes and European-sized government. One or the other has to go.

As I have said many times before, there are only three ways to reduce the deficit – raise taxes, cut spending, or a combination of both. Lately we can’t even control the rate at which we are going deeper into debt – it has been accelerating.

On the other hand, read this letter to the editor of Barron’s:

A Warm Thank You

To the Editor:

This 50-something, white, conservative Republican wishes to thank America’s youth for sacrificing their financial futures and standard of living so that boomers, such as my wife and I, can look forward to a long and comfy retirement, which we could easily have afforded on our own. Now we have the youth as our guarantors and providers of a little something extra.

As reported by the national exit poll conducted by Edison Research, Americans aged 18 to 29 voted 60% to 36% for Barack Obama. Prior to Obama’s re-election, I believed that it was morally wrong for my generation to pass a crushing national debt on to the next one.

The debt will top $20 trillion before Obama moves out of the White House, and it will include spiraling retirement-related costs that the administration has shown zero interest in bringing under control, largely driven by baby boomers piling into the Social Security and Medicare systems.

With the president’s electoral crushing of Mitt Romney, my overriding sense of morality and guilt have vanished. Thank you, kids!

Edwin D. Schindler

Woodbury, N.Y.

And here I used to feel guilty about spending my kids’ inheritance.

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36 Responses to TANSTAAFL

  1. driguana says:

    This is both complex and perplexing….but I’m wondering perhaps if Republicans, conservatives and moderates shouldn’t just give Obama everything that he wants and back away because then it’s entirely his….no one else to blame. Otherwise, it will only be more of the blame game and kicking the proverbial can further on down the road.

    • When we tried that with Bush, we got Obama. I understand the inclination, but it’s not a good strategy. As an aside, neither is adopting their tactics, because that didn’t work either. Obamacrats are like Bushites with antibiotic immunity.

      • DeniseVB says:

        As someone mentioned the Repubs are going to be blamed whatever they do so they may as well do the right thing. LOL, I wish I knew what that was……..

        • DailyPUMA says:

          I don’t understand why the republican party is not more concerned about helping consumers reduce consumer debt. The less consumer debt, the more local economies can thrive, and ironically, more tax revenue is generated as consumer debt drops.

      • angienc says:

        The Obamacrats are *like* the Bushites? The Obamacrats ARE the Bushites.
        Arrianna & Markos were both Bush supporters.

  2. piper says:

    Ironic – from the bill that had to passed to find out what was in it. More companies are finding ways to bypass bummercare.

    “As John Dziak, head of the CCAC Federation of Teachers, ruefully acknowledged about ObamaCare, “[t]his is one of those times when the best of intentions do not always end up with the best results.” No joke there.
    I suspect that adjunct professors throughout the nation are going to be losing classes throughout this next year, as ObamaCare’s requirements loom. (In 2014, these requirements become fully in force.) Massively more adjuncts will lose their health care and see their classes cut back, forcing yet more of them to teach at multiple institutions (to become “freeway fliers,” as the expression goes) even more than they do already. This will be richly ironic, given their overwhelming support of the man who created the law that will bedevil them.

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/12/college_professors_get_what_they_asked_for_dont_like_it_much.html#ixzz2Dufq1I5U

    • Jadzia says:

      I’m kind of shocked to hear that there are adjuncts who ever got health care! When i was an adjunct, I got 6K a semester (it was law school, adjuncts get paid a little more there) and summarily fired after a scandal involving the football team (which I had absolutely nothing to do with) left the university’s general counsel out of a job — the law school gave her a sinecure teaching the class I had been teaching, but paid her 186K plus full benefits.

      Anyhoo, it’s hard to believe, after having been raised to believe in the value of education above all else, that our institutions of higher learning have become so, well, evil in the way that they overcharge their students just because they can (free money from student loans and no accountability by the schools) and f*ck their adjuncts and, in many cases, staff. I guess it’s a good gig if you’re tenured or a dean, though.

  3. swanspirit says:

    What Obama is asking , is COMPLETE CONTROL of the debt ceiling , which amounts to Obama being able to raise the debt ceiling whenever and for whatever reason he chooses , This request was in part of his “negotiations ” with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff. This particular piece of the negotiations is as expected being under reported and not commented on by the leftstream propaganda machine . Melissa Harris Perry did mention it on her show yesterday, and she almost came out of her chair in orgasmic delight at the possibility of Obama accruing this much power. This is how little some people think of ; or understand ,or even have regard for this country , and the world .
    We cannot , and must not give this , if we are to remain or retain any semblance of the country in which we were born .. This is the power of congress , to hold the purse strings . That Obama is even asking is beyond anything he has done thus far . he really has no regard for this country , except that it has given him power.

    • driguana says:

      Despite my above musings, I totally agree with you here. In reality, if we don’t stand up to this incredible coup d’etat that has descended on us, we’re done….very scary times…

    • angienc says:

      Hmm, a government where all the power rests with one person, unrestricted by law, constitutions, or other factors — what’s that called again?

      The fiscal power of Congress is actually clearly delineated in the Constitution (i.e., this isn’t some “right to privacy” where the word “privacy” isn’t there so people can honestly debate how far it goes, or a reference to a “well regulated Militia” causing debate on the meaning of the 2nd Amendment). Obama (and the members of his cabinet and the rest of our elected officials) is sworn to uphold & defend the Constitution. For Obama to even ask for this power is grounds for impeachment.

  4. DeniseVB says:

    More problems for Amb Rice:


    When ya start getting slammed by the left…. ! On the upside, at least this group isn’t being hypocritical so they must be a “racist” organization for picking on her 😉

  5. carolflowery says:

    when i hear people say give Obama everyting he wants i want to throw up, where are people with guts, get real

    • driguana says:

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up wretchful feelings for you with my comment at the top of this blog…it was merely a musing and I admit not amusing….I really don’t believe that we should give in….but many times on this blog site I have mentioned the differences between politicians and leaders…right not it is all a political quagmire until the leaders show up…and, for me, that’s the biggest problem….where are the leaders??? leaders with both guts and vision??? I don’t see anybody on the horizon that’s willing to take on the thug machine and that’s what happens when you have a coup d’etat!

      • angienc says:

        FTR — I agree — give him what he wants on the fiscal cliff *except* on raising debt ceiling (because that’s unconstitutional — and say that’s why they’re not giving him that) and let him prove whether the magic beans he sold during the campaign of “the rich paying a little bit more” will solve all our problems works or not.

        People who voted for him or didn’t bother to vote (either through apathy or anti-Romney stupidity) need to see what they supported.

  6. cj says:

    So not to sound too conspiratorial or anything, but who’s running the show & how do we stop them?

    God knows, he talks a good game, but Hoops Obama doesn’t have an ideological bone in his scrawny little body. I suspect he’d be able to start a fire by rubbing 2 sticks together before he could come up with an economic plan of any kind, and most importantly, I don’t think the empty suit gives a sh*t.

  7. tommy says:

    We gotta cut spending, raise taxes, and plug loopholes. Raising taxes is actually the easy part. Cutting spending never, ever happens. Whenever you talk about that, the progs bring out the props – pushing grandma on wheelchair over the cliff. The way we’re going, we might as well be in a race with the europeans for total economic collapse. The idiots in DC never tell the unwashed masses the truth, they just kick the can down the road. The road is finally coming to a dead end. But the politicians will just smile like everything is just fine. Hypocrites, each one of them.

  8. HELENK says:


    princess nancy just give backtrack what ever he wants.

    lets see

    backtrack could raise debt ceiling whenever he wants

    he already has his czars no congressional approval needed

    he goes to war with out congressional approval

    why are we paying congress they are becoming so unnecessary???

    • HELENK says:

      Democrats, who believe we have a “revenue” problem instead of a “spending” problem, must also think they have a bartender problem, not a drinking problem.

  9. HELENK says:


    WOW. are there many people here going through this nightmare????

    • myiq2xu says:

      What’s the point? The media won’t cover it unless they want to call it racist. Either way it won’t change anything.

      • driguana says:

        yeah, you’re right…we’ll have to ride this one out for a bit…hopefully an appropriate point of action will soon arise…

    • DeniseVB says:

      I saw that earlier and didn’t recognize the organization so I went “meh”. Also, the day of the inauguration, DC will be in lockdown and under heavy security. I’d wait til the tea party (Freedomworks?) starts rising again. Those are fun 😀

  10. Somebody says:

    Well I guess I’ll be the contrarian around here. I don’t think we can cut our way out of this with spending cuts. I also don’t think we can tax our way out it with tax increases. I actually think we need to do a little of both, it’s just how we go about that.

    There is another way Myiq2xu, growing and expanding the economy. In my opinion that is the only way out of the situation we’re in. I could be all washed up, but I think tapping our energy resources will be the spark that ignites economic growth. Unfortunately we don’t have the right people in charge for that at this time.

    Speaking of our energy resources color me all kinds of shades of silly, but how about tapping into some of our reserves on federal land? I’m not talking about an oil well in the middle of Yellowstone or anything……there are plenty of potential locations with far less environmental impact than the chicken little’s out there lead people to believe. That would be a way of increasing revenue while at the same time creating jobs AND potentially lowering energy costs…..damn talk about a win-win.

  11. swanspirit says:

    The Wolf and the Lamb A WOLF, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf’s right to eat him. He thus addressed him: “Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me.” “Indeed,” bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, “I was not then born.” Then said the Wolf, “You feed in my pasture.” “No, good sir,” replied the Lamb, “I have not yet tasted grass.” Again said the Wolf, “You drink of my well.” “No,” exclaimed the Lamb, “I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother’s milk is both food and drink to me.” Upon which the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying, “Well! I won’t remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations.”  The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.


  12. yttik says:

    “As I have said many times before, there are only three ways to reduce the deficit – raise taxes, cut spending, or a combination of both.”

    Actually you can also increase prosperity and support the creation of more wealth. The more money people are making, the more taxes they will pay.

    You can raise taxes by 30% and cut spending, but if we’re all unemployed and broke, you won’t get a dime.

  13. Jadzia says:

    In defense of my new country (where we, meaning my family, pay taxes at a somewhat lower rate than we did in the U.S., although I still have to pay self-employment taxes in the U.S. in addition to what I pay here), the average person gets something tangible for that spending. I.e., pretty good (not perfect) health care, a pretty good educational system (no student loans, and no usurious preschool fees), and a fairly generous social safety net. That’s more than I ever got back for my taxes before.

    That said, we’ve also got an unemployment situation that is pretty bad and the whole continent is in crisis, so who knows what the future will bring. These are scary times no matter where you are.

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