Through No Default Of Our Own

After watching the spectacle of the last few weeks of a handful of radicals pummeling a weakling president over raising the federal debt ceiling to avoid a possible default, like most Americans, I shook my head in disbelief.

Then I began to wonder what I would suggest to solve the problem. As I’ve written before, I would prefer to balance the budget and retire our debt through spending discipline alone. But it’s not realistic.

In public opinion polls, Americans talk a good game about small government, but when pollers frame the question in terms of specific programs to be cut, support for slashing public-sector spending drops significantly. So I really don’t think the political will exists to cut spending enough to balance the budget. Few politicians are willing to risk losing an election by pushing granny off the cliff.

That means, when the economy finally recovers, taxes will need to be increased. I’m willing to pay more but only if there are guarantees that the extra revenue will be used to retire the debt — not to start new programs or expand existing ones. Is Congress capable of keeping such a promise? Am I being naive?

Oh, here’s an idea to save $7 billion a year. Stop subsidizing the goddamned post office!

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3 Responses to Through No Default Of Our Own

  1. Geoff Brown says:

    Terry, a couple of weeks ago you were campaigning to keep the Lakeville Post Office (in an area with Post Offices were laid out by how far it was convenient to ride a horse in a day and back). You don't subsidize Post Offices with carrier delivery, and you save a lot of money. Does the postperson REALLY need to call at your door six days a week?

  2. Terry Cowgill says:

    Geoff, if I was "campaigning" to do anything, it was to close Salisbury instead. Even postal officials admitted that made more sense. But they couldn't do it because of stupid union rules. And no, I do not need delivery six days a week. I ask you: Do you think it's acceptable for the PO to lose $7 billion a year and for taxpayers to make up the difference?I say, stop the subsidies, reform the labor agreements and let the PO charge what they need to in order to stop soaking the taxpayers who don't use the mail anymore. And if you object to that, then I say privatize, as has been widely done in Europe.

  3. Geoff Brown says:

    Terry, my comments (as they always are on this subject) colored by the high regard in which I hold the tiny Taconic Post Office.That said, I think that the analysis of what the Post Office loses may overlook some roles that it plays that would have to be transported elsewhere. Draft registration and passport applications are two distinctly non-postal functions that could be performed elsewhere at far higher cost. The Post Office acts as a bank for those too poor (or unhappy with real banks) to have a checking account. Although they seem to be trying to get out of this function, in many rural areas, Post Offices serve as de facto community centers.If the Postal Service were privatized, costs would be incurred as all these functions — as well as normal postal functions — were market priced. These costs would fall disproportionally on the poorest and least able to assume them.

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