Someone recently suggested that there is no one to bail out America, so we need to cut government spending. This is false, there are people who can solve our economic woes: us. Our government ultimately exists to take care of us, and that costs money. Defense, education, health care, infrastructure. The price of everything has gone up and will continue to, yet we want to pay less and less for the services that keep us safe. We want better education, better health care, better roads, better environment, better disaster response, and then we vote for candidates who will promise us they can deliver those things while reducing what our share of the bill is. When will we realize this is impossible?
Should we privatize these services? Shifting to private industry will not make them cheaper. Private industry knows that if you are willing to pay a certain amount for a service to the government, you will also pay that amount to a private company. The problem is that in private industry, that amount doesn’t account for profit (which is why they are in business), so there is inherent motivation to provide less of a service in order to maximize the profit in providing it. Certainly the argument could be made that private industry will be more efficient or have lower costs, but efficiency in many industries costs money in research and development, which, again, works against their bottom line. In private industry, who benefits more from greater efficiency and reduced costs? The answer is simple when you consider that there is no incentive to reducing costs if it isn’t going to increase profits. In government, who benefits from greater efficiency? We do. Additionally, we have less control over private industry than government–we can’t hire and fire CEOs with elections.
Yes, we all want more, but we must each be willing to do more, to get more involved. We must be willing to demand that our politicians work for us (and not the “us” that want a smaller tax bill, but the “us” that understands that when we behave like spoiled children who want to save the most for ourselves, we are hurting everyone else). We can and should continue to try to cut costs and make government-run programs more efficient, but we should also realize that in the end the answer to our problems is going to be found in our willingness to do more, not by voting for people who falsely promise us we can do less.