austerity

Originally posted on February 10, 2013.

Something keeps bothering me about the discussions about the budget deficit, the national debt and the need for austerity. People say that we need to cut services, cut taxes and shrink the government. What bothers me is that these people make a comparison with a single family. The idea is that families all have to balance their budgets, so therefore the government should do the same thing.

But I wonder, do families really balance their budgets without debt and credit?
 If we need a car to get to work or just to go shopping, many of us borrow money. If we refuse to borrow money, and can’t get to work, our economic wellbeing suffers. Is it sound economic policy for our family to do without the car and therefore not get to work? If our roof is leaking, we may have to borrow money to fix it. We try to live within out means, but if a child gets sick, we do whatever needs to be done to help to heal her. If need be, we borrow money. Our kids are more important to us.

At the same time, we realize that we shouldn’t take on great debt for extravagant 
or useless projects. In my view, the good uses of out national wealth include, maintaining the infrastructure, educating our children, providing medical care for all, preparing for global climate change and making the changes needed to lessen it’s impact, keeping our national postal system and our public transportation system, supporting the arts…….etc etc. What seems wasteful to me is conducting unnecessary wars, spending billions of dollars on our elections, lining the pockets of the very rich by dipping into the pockets of the poor and the working people.