Monday, February 14, 2011

Mr. Micawber, Mr. Buchanan, and the Deficit

Thinking about today's budget news, I am reminded of Mr. Micawber's immortal advice to David Copperfield:
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
I am also reminded of President James Buchanan, of whom the Wikipedia notes:
By the time he left office, popular opinion had turned against him, and the Democratic Party had split in two. Buchanan had once aspired to a presidency that would rank in history with that of George Washington. However, his inability to impose peace on sharply divided partisans on the brink of the Civil War has led to his consistent ranking by historians as one of the worst Presidents. Buchanan biographer Philip Klein puts these rankings into context: "Buchanan assumed leadership [...] when an unprecedented wave of angry passion was sweeping over the nation. That he held the hostile sections in check during these revolutionary times was in itself a remarkable achievement. His weaknesses in the stormy years of his presidency were magnified by enraged partisans of the North and South. His many talents, which in a quieter era might have gained for him a place among the great presidents, were quickly overshadowed by the cataclysmic events of civil war and by the towering Abraham Lincoln. [References omitted.]
The federal budget cannot be balanced, let alone the national debt repaid, except by means that will shock the ordinary Americans who have been quietly going about the business of their lives while political leaders of both major parties have led us inexorably edge of ruin. The health care town halls and tea parties of the last two years are mere tremors compared to the size and scope of conflict that will emerge when real austerity is ultimately forced on us by a real fiscal crisis

Is there absolutely no one in any position of responsibility anywhere in the national government with the guts to actually deal with this problem? 

No comments:

Post a Comment