The past few weeks have certainly provided some dramatic television moments, haven’t they? Two presidential debates and a vice presidential debate offered provocative and revealing insights into the candidates’ priorities and perspectives.
The winner faces a grim task. Upon taking office, the next president will have to say “no” to us more often if he is to have any chance of reducing America’s debt.
We can do him, and ourselves, a big service by getting clear in our own minds and hearts about what we want, need and expect from the federal government.
Here are some questions to think about. These are not trick questions, and there is no right or wrong answer. They simply illustrate some of the basic issues “we the people” must come to grips with in order to move our government beyond its partisan gridlock.
Are we accountable to one another for understanding what we want government to achieve on our behalf, and how government can or should accomplish those ends?
Do you want government to collect money from those who have plenty of it in order to supplement your own standard of living?
Do you want government to protect and advance your health and safety?
Do you believe it’s OK to buy things with someone else’s money that benefit you, even if you are otherwise unwilling or unable to pay for those things yourself?
Do you want to hand over a portion of your earnings to government, to be set aside and saved for you until you reach a certain age? Or, do you want to be responsible for 100 percent of your own savings and retirement?
Do you believe the national “debt” operates in accordance with the same economic and financial principles as personal debt?
How do you define ‘national security’ — and how much do you want to spend on it? Do you believe we advance our security by using military force to achieve specific objectives in other countries?
Do you want government to serve as a manager or as a referee in our national economy?
When you think about Obama, Romney: America’s debt and your financial future, what do you think about your own debt — and your own financial responsibility to other Americans?
We welcome your thoughts and comments.