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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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A Stupid Debate

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In one of the stupidest political debates in modern history, liberals and conservatives demonstrate, once again, how worthless their joint commitment to statism is. Their current big debate centers around the liberal dream of extending jobless benefits to unemployed people and the conservative dream of extending tax cuts for the rich.

Suppose you were on the Titanic and word spread that the ship was heading toward a gigantic iceberg. A debate between liberals and conservatives immediately breaks out. The debate is over whether the dining tables should have 8 chairs or 10 chairs. Heated arguments break out, but after much bickering a compromise appears to be reached, involving 9 chairs at each table. But it’s not clear whether the deal is going to be struck because there are both liberals and conservatives who steadfastly refuse to compromise their principles and their integrity.

The liberals and conservatives approach a group of libertarians on the ship and lobby them for their vote. The libertarians respond, “We don’t really much care about that issue. What we need to be doing is figuring out how to change the direction of the ship so that it doesn’t hit that gigantic iceberg or plan on what we’re going to do when we do hit it.”

The liberals and conservatives respond, “That’s the trouble with you libertarians. You’re such philosophers and idealists. Get practical. How are we going to dine without resolving the issue of the chairs?”

Everyone knows that federal spending is out of control. The federal government is spending far more than what it is bringing in. The amount they’re spending exceeds the amount they’re collecting by the tune of at least $1.3 trillion dollars — every year. For years, they’ve been borrowing the difference, mounting up more and more federal debt — debt that can only be paid back by American taxpayers. The debt is somewhere around $13 trillion, with each person’s average share amounting to $43,000.

The federal government is heading toward bankruptcy, just like in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and Spain. The Federal Reserve is now inflating the money supply, big time, which really is a default on its debt. The prices of gold and silver are soaring, along with other commodities. The value of the dollar is plummeting.

The biggest components of the spending are the welfare-warfare state programs, led by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the military. Yet, both liberals and conservatives are steadfastly committed not only to continue these statist programs but also to continue their funding levels.

This cannot end well. The iceberg is up ahead. When the collision arrives, here’s my prediction: Both liberals and conservatives will use the crisis as an excuse to expand government power over the citizenry and to levy more taxes on everyone.

So, what do liberals and conservatives do faced with the prospect of this collision? Do they confront the fundamental problem — the welfare-warfare state programs on which most of the money is being spent? Of course not! Like I say, they are firmly committed to these programs, along with most of the other welfare-state/regulatory programs, departments, and agencies.

Instead, liberals and conservatives embroil themselves in a stupid debate, doing their best to show that they’re “doing something” in Washington. Just as bad, they suck editorial writers and talk show hosts into their idiocy. As the ship continues heading toward the iceberg, the statists are debating how to arrange the chairs in the dining room.

The jobless benefits will just add to the federal spending problem. Cutting taxes for the rich simply shifts the tax burden to someone else. Don’t forget, after all, that all that debt must be repaid. Who’s going to repay it? Somebody is. You can cut taxes for the rich all you want, but that simply means that the poor or middle class will have to pick up the slack.

The easiest way to do that is by inflating the money supply to enable federal officials to pay off the debt with newly printed money. That’s what governments have done throughout history. That’s what the Federal Reserve is for — to monetize the debt and enable federal officials to spend money to their hearts’ content.

Who pays the price when it comes to the tax of inflation? Usually the poor and the middle class.

The solution obviously lies with slashing spending. One option is simply an across-the-board cut. For example, slash every single federal program, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the military by 30 percent. While that would relieve much of the fiscal problem, it’s not enough because it doesn’t address the moral problem — the welfare-warfare state itself. It is statism that has failed and that is taking our country down. Instead of engaging in stupid debates over which statist reform to adopt, what we really need to be doing is repealing and dismantling every single statist program, department, and agency and restoring a free-market, limited-government republic to our land.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.