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I don’t claim to be an economics wiz, I leave that to my friends who have a degree in the dismal science (economics); rather I am a student of history and politics.  After having read David Brooks opinion piece in the July 12, 2011 New York Times, I am relieved to see there is at least one Burkean conservative left in the world.

As he quite rightly states in order to solve our nation’s economic problems,

. . .We believe that there are a thousand factors that go into economic growth, and no single one is dispositive.

We look at the tax cuts of 2001 and do not see tremendous gains. We look at the tax increase of 1982 and do not see a ruinous disaster. We look at high deficit eras and low deficit eras and do not see an easy correlation between deficit spending and growth. On the contrary, if you look around the world there’s a slight negative correlation between government size and prosperity.

We believe that if you rest everything on a single lever [emphasis added by blog author] (Increase deficits! Cut taxes!), you give people a permission slip to be self-indulgent. They will spend or cut to their hearts’ content and soon you’ll be facing national bankruptcy. We believe that even if you are theoretically right, your policies will be distorted by human frailties and special interests.

The people in my group (you might call us conservatives) are more likely to embrace a low and steady approach to fiscal policy. Control debt. Control entitlements. Keep tax levels reasonable and the tax code simple. Work on the economic fundamentals: human capital, productivity, labor market flexibility, open trade, saving and investment. Don’t believe you can use magic levers to manipulate growth month to month.

As David Brooks makes abundantly clear, there is no one solution to our problems.  It is going to require Congress and the President to make some hard choices.  Choices that in the short term will be painful, not only for the politicians, but for all the American public, but in the long term it will pay dividends to our nation’s financial security.  Democrats, the answer are not just taxes on the rich; it is a fairer and flatter tax system.  Republicans, it is not just cuts to Federal spending; rather it is prudent cuts that require careful analysis so as to not precipitate a deeper recession or higher unemployment.  American public, for us, we are going to have to give up some of our cherished deductions for a fairer and flatter tax system; we are going to have to have to accept that Social Security and Medicare benefits are going to be reduced, that automatic cost of living increases are a thing of the past; in short it is going to require shared sacrifice.  Shared sacrifice that cannot rest exclusively on the backs of the rich, the poor, or the middle class rather all must equally share in making sacrifices.

I doubt if any of the politicians are going to read this.  Politicians don’t just take my word for it, or take to heart David Brooks’ admonishment; more importantly take to heart the words and example of wise sage of the past, Edmund Burke. [1]

“… it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

 [1]  Quote found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke on 12 July 2011.

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