If you have children, you may have wondered what would happen if all children were given voting rights to control the spending decisions of the household. What if that were true across the board? What if all children in all households were given the right to vote on what kinds of things their parents spent money on? I'm sure you can imagine some of the obvious results.
Children would vote themselves an endless supply of candy, sugary breakfast cereal, video games, fashionable clothing, swimming pools and basically anything they wanted, despite parents' explanations about the monthly household budget. Children really wouldn't be capable of comprehending those concepts, and they would outspend the monthly revenues of the household by a rather large margin.
Over time, this would create a household deficit, meaning the parents would have to take out loans and start paying interest on those loans each and every month. These interest payments, though, would still not be of concern to the children, because as long as they could continue to vote more and more gifts, candy and presents to themselves, they wouldn't have much concern about the interest payments, figuring that, "Well, somebody else will pay those off down the road."
Children aren't running households, they're running the country
At this point you might think, "Come on, Mike; this is a ridiculous scenario. Why are you going down this path with this essay?" The answer is because this exact phenomenon is happening across the country today, except it's not children making these childish decisions about spending; it's the adults. And it's not the household that is of concern here; it's the entire government
of the United States of America.
U.S. adults are making spending decisions by voting themselves larger and larger entitlements that their government simply cannot afford, and, like the children in the example above, these adults don't seem to understand, nor concern themselves with, the fact that the "national household" -- the federal government itself -- cannot afford these expenditures.
The voters in our country act like a bunch of children. This is why I honestly believe -- and this is not an exaggeration by any means -- that every democracy is ultimately doomed to financial collapse. When you put the recipients of the spending in charge of voting on spending decisions, the long-term result can only be catastrophe. This is especially true when you consider that most people tend to think in terms of what's in it for them rather than what's good in the long-term for the country, or the fiscal health of the next generation.
Fiscal restraint is extremely unpopular
We saw a great example of this in the Fall of 2005 in California, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted to pass some major referendums involving spending reforms, some of which would have put California on a much smarter and more responsible fiscal track. The voters
defeated those referendums, and a mere two months later, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that, "the message has been received," and that he was going to put his support behind a number of measures based on the principle of new spending that the state of California cannot afford.
In other words, Gov. Schwarzenegger realized, just like every other politician realizes, that you can't make voters happy and stay in office by supporting sound financial decisions, or by supporting fiscal reform legislation that would actually require voters to rein in some of the spending on their own benefits. Rather, the only way to stay popular as a politician -- whether at the city, state or federal level -- is to be the person who offers the most handouts to voters.
In fact, for decades, Republicans and Democrats alike have been competing with each other just to see who can create the most voter entitlements while accelerating the nation toward financial collapse. So far, the Republicans are winning by a long shot. President Bush has put the nation in deeper debt than any president in history, and there always seems to be another excuse to justify even more deficit spending. There are all sorts of crises that can be sold to the voters as a reason for more spending. These include war, a terrorist threat, healthcare crises, epidemic crises and even a prescription drug crisis. The latter "crisis" was used by President Bush to get voter support for his massive, Medicare-funded, prescription drug handout program, which is now a national disaster. That program promised discounted prescription drugs for senior citizens, a benefit that practically no voter over the age of 65 could resist.
What we're left with is a nation that is headed down the path of financial implosion. In fact, the entitlement programs expand at an accelerating pace because, as soon as one group in the population sees someone else getting a benefit they are not getting, they lobby Congress to get their own benefit as well. Pretty soon, everybody's getting some kind of handout, but billions, if not trillions, of dollars are always lost at the administration level, because handing out money at the federal bureaucracy is really not an efficient process of redistributing wealth in the first place. There's substantial overhead in that redistribution, and that overhead is ultimately wasted productivity and money.
Foreign investors are paying for the party while gaining financial leverage over the United States
You might ask, "If we're currently spending more money on entitlements than we actually have in our federal government, who's actually paying for it?" The answer is foreign suckers. Did I say suckers? I mean foreign investors.
Right now, China owns an alarming percentage of U.S. treasury bills, and the governments of China, Japan and many other countries are supporting the United States' federal budget deficit by purchasing U.S. debt like a drunken sailor buying another round of shots. As of right now, they've purchased so much U.S. debt that they could collapse the U.S. economy overnight by simply selling all the debt they have accumulated. This is not at all an exaggeration.
But you might ask, "Why don't they do that? Why doesn't China sell U.S. debt and cause the collapse of the U.S. economy?" The answer is simple: Why would China want to mess with the great scam? China is selling all sorts of plastic goods to U.S. citizens who are spending more money to buy them. This results in a huge transfer of wealth to China, and China uses a portion of that wealth to purchase U.S. debt.
China gets both the profits of the products it sells, plus all the trade surpluses, and it gains political and economic power over the most dangerous superpower in the world, the United States of America. Obviously, if you're China and you'd like to increase the strength of your position for the present time, you continue to allow the U.S. to sink itself deeper and deeper into debt.
How could this have happened?
The final question, then, is who put the children in charge around here? The answer is we did. We created a democracy in which anyone (over 18) with a heartbeat, no matter how stupid they really are, can vote
for anything they want, including free handouts that compromise the future of the country. As a result, this country has no credible financial future. Yes, the party may continue for some period of time, but when it's over, the teenage kids who ran that party are going to wake up and find their parents' house is trashed and the cops are at the front door.
Never leave the finances of your country up to uneducated voters. Naturally, voters are just going to vote themselves more and more handouts until their country is bankrupt. It's the tragedy of the commons, as they say in economic theory, and the ultimate result can only be financial ruin.
So who should run the finances, then? Educated voters. I'm a true believer in freedom and Democracy, but it only works when your citizens are well educated and capable of considering the long term consequences of today's decisions. Sadly, the educational standards in the United States today are abysmal, and only a tiny percentage of the voting population can even understand the concepts of fiscal policy, the money creation process or international debt markets. As a result, most voters have absolutely no clue about how to vote intelligently. And so politicians who want to get elected simply promise more short-term handouts that further compromise the fiscal future of the country.
It can only lead to one ultimate outcome: The bankruptcy of the U.S. government. It's not a question of if, but when.