If you're like me, you probably look back with fondness on the books and movies of your childhood. One of my favorites is Clifford the Big Red Dog. For those who haven't read any of the books, or just need a refresher, Clifford is indeed, a big (the T.V. series has him as 25 feet tall), red dog. His size often gets him in trouble with his friends and neighbors, but in the end everyone is grateful for it. He is always there to save the day: he may suck up a lake and put out a forest fire, put a lighthouse on his back and bring a boat lost in dense fog back to shore, or ignore his canine tendencies and safely lower a cat stuck high in a tree, but he can only do these things thanks to his colossal frame. Lately, however, a stark reality has started to bother me a little bit. No, I don't mind so much that there is a dog the size of a house, we'll just pretend that could actually happen. But who's going to pay for it? Think of the costs of owning such a dog. Emily Elizabeth's parents would not only have to feed his monstrous appetite, but provide shelter, specialized veterinary care, waste management (probably can't bury all of it), and liability payments when his size causes damage to property. I'm sure Clifford's family had to wonder, at least once, 'is owning such a dog worth it? Should we give him away', or a more grotesque thought, 'put him down?'
And so that brings me to our federal government, which, if present trends continue, we will not be able to afford. Barring changes, as early as 2040, our entire federal budget will be consumed by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt. Doing nothing is not an option. But the problem with proposing cuts is nobody wants to see their program cut. Truth is, the government does do some good things, and we have been conditioned to believe that without the government, those things could not be done at all. So we keep Clifford around, because if there is a fire, we might need him. If there are burglars at the door, he can scare them away. When disaster strikes our "Clifford" will be there. Unfortunately we learn from events like 9/11 and hurricane Katrina that Clifford can't protect us from everything and he is getting more expensive to take care of all the time. So the choice is simple. Not easy, but simple. Much higher taxes and the government services we have become addicted to, or lower taxes, more liberty and the painful realization that there is not enough money, even in the entire United States, to solve all the world's problems. We should choose carefully, because Clifford may not always be so benevolent, and he's not the type to just bark, he can bite.