Putting all of the Mainstream Media’s bumbling bobbleheads aside, I’m pretty sure that most of us can agree that in the case of the USA, cuts have to happen. If we’re actually planning NOT to default on our debt, we’ve GOT to stop running up deficits. To do this—correct me if I’m wrong—we’ve gotta either find trillions in new income and growth (har-har), or cut some wasteful and expensive programs, so that our burden to grow is not so heavy.
As a libertarian (at least in the US Constitutionalist sense), It’s pretty obvious to me that cuts can and should be made in many areas. Ultimately though, to come out of a debt and deficits this large, we as an entire nation have got to undergo more fundamental change in character and thinking— we, and consequently our government, need to undergo some kind of paradigm shift.
What is a paradigm shift? Dictionary.com defines it as “a radical change in underlying beliefs or theories”, and also as “a radical change in approach and assumptions.” First, let’s look at a few of America’s current beliefs and theories, according to what the policies and bureaucrats tell us.
Foreign Policy —
- We are a country of freedom and democracy.
- We are intensely focused on “bringing freedom and democracy” (through drone strikes and private defense organizations like blackwater) to other “less fortunate” nations around the globe.
- We do this either through foreign aid (most of which is wasted on making the country’s rich richer) or direct foreign intervention (God help you if this happens).
Domestic Policy —
- We can control who you can marry,
- We control what you put into your body (Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture),
- We control what information you “need” to learn (Department of Education),
- We control most of your business practices (Environmental Protection Agency, FDA).
- We can spy on virtually everything you do (Patriot Act)
- and strip search or even KILL you when you are deemed a “terrorist” (TSA, National Defense Authorization Act).
If you haven’t seen the FBI’s list of “suspected terrorist behavior”, I suggest you look it up! It actually includes paying for coffee in cash as a terrorist activity…
Moving on. The next question, then, is “which paradigms need to be shifted?” This is obviously open for discussion, but the two primary shifts I see as necessary (and perhaps ripe for change) are the two ridiculous examples highlighted above— our government’s interventionist foreign policy, and our domestic policy, concerning civil liberties and personal choices that people make.
#1. Foreign Policies— Cutting our foreign entanglements and bringing the troops home would save us a pretty penny, not to mention that these troops have money and skills they bring back, to help grow our country back to health. IMO, we should shift from an interventionist to a non-interventionist paradigm, which I feel is, currently, a pretty easy sell. We should set the example for other countries to follow, instead of just marching into their house and telling them what to do. Arguably, we’d also be safer, because our military is defending our land, guns facing out, instead of guns killing innocent foreign people and creating more terrorists (google “Blowback”).
#2 Domestic Policy— This is where our paradigm shift will really come in, because in order to save money at home, the government will need to relinquish control over a number of things, and thus put the power (and the responsibility) in the hands of the people. In short, control costs money. It costs the government in terms of more bureaucrats, and the people in the ways these bureaucrats enforce the rules (which can be hefty and have far-reaching economic consequences for Main Street).
More specifically, the EPA needs to loosen their grip on what people can/can’t do in terms of business practice, and the FDA needs to loosen their grip on what is illegal to put in one’s body. If we scaled the FDA back and allowed the marketing and wholesale of more holistic and natural medicine (that is currently fought against tooth and nail by the FDA), we’d see costs of medical supplies go down considerably, as cheaper competition is legalized.
Secondly, and a bit more radically, if we legalized voluntary, victimless actions (i.e. “crimes” such as drugs and prostitution), we’d be spending a LOT less on the prisons and court proceedings, although perhaps a (very) little bit more on education and rehabilitation. Here, IMO, the government should step back from playing the nanny paradigm, and allow the people to do what they wish, as long as it’s non-violent and victimless. People will learn how to use these things responsibly, and in the end these services will develop to be more professional, less dangerous, and a new source of taxable revenue! To put forth a historical example, just look at all of the crime that alcohol prohibition created in the early 1900s. To put forth an empirical one, check out the progress of Portugal since their 2001 decriminalization of all drugs.
I know these should be relatively short, so I’ll stop here. Please, feel free to put forth your own diagnoses and cures to America’s Ailments, and to question me where you think I may be wrong. The one thing I ask—don’t forget cutting the wasteful and foolish programs! It will make the growth all that much easier! We should take lessons from Europe, but we should also recognize the MANY ways that we are different from Europe (our empire, for example)!
-Nick Moutinho (writing from Changsha, Hunan, P.R.C.)