Several months back, I wrote a post saying that the first rule of life is "You are responsible for your things. If you need help, ask. If 'No' is the answer you hear, you are still responsible for your things." Society runs more smoothly when people act autonomously in their self-interest and take care of themselves, not expecting others to come to their rescue or pick up the slack in the wake of their procrastination or laziness or addiction. Which is most often the cause of dereliction of personal matters. In times when circumstances are truly beyond the control of a person, I have no problem with assistance - but it's amazing how often the root cause can be distilled to an issue of personal choice.
I didn't watch Bush's speech last night, but I have read its text. This section is noteworthy.
Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we have reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending – and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another 14 billion dollars next year – and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. I am pleased that Members of Congress are working on earmark reform – because the Federal budget has too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto. Amen, brother. The impact of the entitlements on my children's generation is going to be staggering, and, I fear, overly burdensome. Congress has had a lot of fun giving away OPiuM (Other People's Money), and as addictive as that can be in helping them to be re-elected, it's wrong. Tragic though it might be that some seniors can't afford their prescription drugs, it was their responsibility to plan for that and is now the responsibility of their families to care for them. That they didn't plan for that is a matter of personal choice. And it's not the social responsibility of the next generation to take from the future income of my children to support the prescriptive needs of baby-boomer seniors.
We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million Baby Boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad’s favorite people – me, and President Bill Clinton. This milestone is more than a personal crisis – it is a national challenge. The retirement of the Baby Boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the Federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire Federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices – staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending.
Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security, yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away – and with every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse. So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of Baby Boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include Members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan answers. We need to put aside partisan politics, work together, and get this problem solved.
Bush didn't come out and say that his prescription drug plan was the wrong thing to do, but that's okay - I will. It was wrong. And I have no faith that a bi-partisan committee can achieve anything close to retracting the law.
Where I do have hope is in those of us who have the power of our voices here on the Internet. The blogosphere, as it has come to be known, gets mighty vocal and more peruasive every day with politicians. Bloggers have an increasingly large voice, as has been shown again by the slippery House Majority Leader campaign. No longer is Tom Delay's choice of Roy Blunt of Missouri a shoe-in, but instead solidly conservative Arizona upstart John Shadegg looks more likely to be the next leader. Shadegg has the avid blessing of the bloggers, who are also fervent about the Porkbusters campaign. The only good earmark is one that has died like a salted slug. No more pork.
The government is not its own money source; the people are its source. It is irresponsible to re-allocate future monies from children toward others when those children have no voice about their future. No taxation without respresentation - remember that? Since they are not of voting age, they can't speak to the problem at the ballot box. They'll only inherit a mess, and have to undo the problem later, which will be far more painful once lavish spending programs are in place. That's wrong. Such a practice is utterly immoral.
It's a good first step that Bush addressed the issue, but in the couple of years of his presidency that remain, he needs to undo what he has wrongly done and terminate the programs installed during his terms in office. I don't think he has the nerve to do it. But that's okay - we the people will keep up the heat on this one.