Commentary by David Y. Cantwell: Remove deception from debt debate

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The high drama of our ruling elite regarding the debt ceiling only reminds me of an old joke: How do you know if a politician is lying? His lips are moving.

The truth is not being told. In fact, the president of the United States threatened seniors and others receiving aid, suggesting that Social Security checks may not go out or that Medicare benefits would not be paid. This is cheap class warfare. This is blackmail: "Give us more money or else!"

I am outraged. There is enough money to pay for those items and to service the current debt. And the Constitution requires that the debt be paid first. Like all politicians, President Barack Obama just wants to get his way and continue governmental domination of our society.

The reality is that then other bills would not be paid. This requires tough choices. But isn't that what the elected are supposed to do?

We're told we have a debt crisis and only more debt can cure it. This is insane.

Yet we have done it to ourselves. As voters, we have continued to elect those who only spend and borrow, driving us deeper into debt. We incur debt to pay for entitlements. However, no population can produce enough to support unproductive people who aren't working but who are receiving food, shelter, health care, etc.

This is not a failure of capitalism. Our current system is corrupt, with crony capitalism and government influence of markets through regulation and favors such as special tax treatment. Would socialism work? No. As Margaret Thatcher said, "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."

There are plenty of spending solutions. Here's a start: Stop foreign aid. Most of it has gone to corrupt governments and even been used to attack or undermine the U.S. anyway. Stop funding the United Nations. How about the International Monetary Fund? How about ending the Department of Energy? It was founded in 1977 to end our dependence on foreign oil. Is that money well spent? How about the Department of Education? Since its inception, it has a perfect record of declining test scores. I could go on an on.

Government has permeated every aspect of our lives with the promise that it will make everything better, but doesn't. What country has borrowed and spent itself into prosperity? Government is the problem. Current policies continue to create bigger and bigger problems. Then they convince the majority of voters that the problems are so big that only government can solve them. What do we do? Re-elect them! The Founders tried to protect us from the tyranny of the majority as well as government. Jefferson said it would require an educated and resolute populace to keep the government in check. Evidently, we are neither.

* David Y. Cantwell is an executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle, an international commercial real estate firm. He lives in Genoa.


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