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Letter to the Editor

Writer offers suggestions for national debt reduction

web posted December 3, 2010

Dear Editor,
The freezing of Federal workers’ pay for two years is a symbolic gesture. It’s necessary, perhaps, and acceptable to most Federal employees, such as myself, should Congress implement it, but it is of little value. The estimated first year “savings” of $2,000,000,000.00 (assuming the money is not spent elsewhere) is a negligible .16% of a projected $1,267,000,000,000.00 budget deficit (and a minuscule .015% of the total $13,790,302,153,225.82 national debt). Now is the time for Congress to undertake the task of reducing Federal spending on a scale hitherto unimagined.

Note I said reduce spending, not fiddle with tax rates, deductions, and credits. This effort will require statesmen, not politicians, of rare courage; statesmen who cherish a long-term vision of returning America to its Constitutional roots of a Federal Republic comprised of sovereign States in which individuals are responsible for themselves and their families.

The following is a mere glimpse of what is required to eliminate annual deficits and pay down the debt.

Rather than quibble over the retirement age, Social Security should be altogether eliminated, saving $686,000,000,000.00 annually. Those 25 and under would have their OASDI taxes refunded and be free to retire at whatever age they wish.  For those over 25, we who so desire should be offered a sliding-scale buy-out program, based on age and total taxes paid. A similar program, in concert with the repeal of Obamacare, would eliminate Medicare, saving a further $507,000,000,000.00 each year.

In his Farewell Address, George Washington declared, “'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” a policy we would do well to heed by withdrawing from NATO, closing our European bases, and bringing our troops and equipment home. NATO was created to defend Western Europe from a now non-existent Soviet threat.

We should say farewell to the United Nations, an organization rarely supportive of America’s interests. Foreign aid, for whatever purpose, should be eliminated in toto. In 1794, after Congress appropriated $15,000.00 for the relief of French refugees fleeing insurrection in San Domingo, James Madison observed, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." 

Space precludes discussion of the many other areas ripe for reduction or elimination. We are perilously close to living out the statement often attributed to Scottish philosopher Alexander Tytler, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”

Washington and Madison would, I think, agree.

Yours faithfully,

John H. Beach

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