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As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.
~~George Washington
(with some help from Alexander Hamilton)
in GW's Farewell Address, 1796

Classic Republican Simplicity.

1. Public Credit is essential.

2. Spend public money frugally--but don't be penny wise and pound foolish. Spend it when you must (to ensure national security).

3. Pay your own way. Don't mortgage the future. Don't burden future generations with your profligacy.

4. Elective government is responsible for holding the line on spending, but, ultimately, expenditures will reflect the popular will.

5. To pay down debt, government must tax. Taxes are inconvenient and unpleasant--but necessary.

6. Good government is responsible government. Government must be worthy of our taxes.

Back to Basics. The Party is Over. While this may be contemporary GOP heresy, it is time to reclaim Classic Republican good sense.

We need to get serious about taxes--for two reasons:

1. We desperately need the money. We are amassing a national debt that poses an existential threat to American independence. The only way to protect our liberty is to RAISE REVENUE and CUT EXPENSES--and do both of those things in a meaningful way.

Brace yourselves: this is going to sting.

2. We need to tax everyone until it hurts. We need to tax George Soros, Warren Buffet, Steven Spielberg, AND YOU AND ME until we all feel the pain of taxation and cry out for a more responsible government.

The tax burden ought to be such that even rich liberals come to understand that there is a price to pay for a government that aspires to be all things to all people. Most importantly, we must tax all citizens of all socioeconomic ranks so that all Americans are invested in good stewardship. For those who pay no taxes, every government program is a good one.

We must face reality. Our current president won election promising 98 percent of America a tax cut. We must overcome the sophistry that the masses will benefit from a tax structure that only "inconveniences" the fortunate few. Those numbers do not add up--and we should disabuse ourselves of such foolish notions. They defy common sense.

The Party is Over. Twentieth century "tax and spend" liberalism yielded the stagflation, systemic insolvencies, and malaise of the 1970s. As a well-intentioned alternative to over-taxation, the market conservatives offered what tragically amounted to "borrow and spend," which produced a generation of high times but ultimately led us to this desperate moment of reckoning. Let us return to our Classical Republican roots.

Let us commit ourselves to frugality and moderation. Let us understand that sustainability, living within our means, is our primary national priority. But first we must take drastic measures to meet this moment of crisis. The transition back to fiscal health will not be pleasant--but it is time to change our indulgent habits forever--or die.

Acknowledgement: this is not especially original thinking on my part. Among other influences, the Okie Gardener offered a compelling essay on this subject last Octber.
Although I hate that is has become so cliche, for a long time my watchword for the American future has been sustainability.

1. Of course, I advocate "Going Green." While "environmentalism" is much too often merely a nebulous catch-all talking point designed to score political advantage, we must move away from our plastic disposable society.

2. More fundamentally, I also advocate sustainability as an essential element of domestic economic policy. We can no longer promise what we cannot afford. We can no longer count on borrowing money on the strength of our prodigious economic history, while our economic future is increasingly at risk and enfeebled as a result of our profligate present. We can no longer rely on the illogical assumption that sustained deficit spending ensures perpetual prosperity. In essence, our government cannot be all things to all our citizens. To survive, our government must learn to say "no." As I have said before, we must understand that the Keynesian Interlude is coming to an end.

3. Perhaps most importantly, I advocate sustainability as a governing principle in terms of foreign relations. Idealism and pure humanitarianism regarding foreign affairs are luxuries we cannot afford in light of my second proposition. We must be much more circumspect in defining our vital interests. To put it bluntly, we must be much more frugal and selfish in wielding our military power. The era of Pax Americana is no longer tenable in the age we are about to enter. The argument over the intentions or benefits concerning the projection of American power is now moot. Rather, our new economic realities dictate a more humble and realistic approach to the world.

Ironically, I have a strong sense that the new post-America world order will be a tragedy for humanity in terms of security and quality of life. Notwithstanding, we stand at a crossroads in which our basic needs and vital interests must trump our evangelical impulse to ameliorate the human condition.

We are a long way from facing up to this inevitable radical change in our status. I firmly believe that we will not come to grips with these new facts of life until we are absolutely forced to. But I am increasingly convinced that they are out there waiting for us--like it or not.