Monday, March 28, 2011

Clifford the Big Red Dog and a Government We Can Afford

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.


  1. I guarantee some Tea Partier will steal the idea of Clifford as the Federal Government before the next election cycle. You need to copyright this.
    As I've said previously, I think that the choice you present here will ultimately bring us to "the end."
    The Dominoes have been lined up ready to fall. The first one begins to wobble. Hopefully people keep that fervor in them from last election cycle and fight back.

  2. Uncle Frank wanted to be an engineer but thought he wasn't smart enough so he decided instead to be a math teacher. Since moving to Orem, I have had more people come up and tell me that they were in his class and whether someone was advanced or behind he took the time to help them and encourage them. He was the one teacher that was able to explain things in a way that was understandable. He didn't know just things about math, he knew everything about anything. One time he told me all about Lake Bonneville, another time it was Watergate. He sat me down the night that Nixon resigned and had me watch it telling me that I was watching history being made. When Olga Korbut was getting 10s for her gymnastics at the 1972 Munich Olympics he showed me a ruler and that that she was doing all of her amazing balance beam stunts on a surface that was just four inches wide. He would incessantly watch the news and was very well informed about everything going on in the world. Poppy had the intelligence to talk about such things, but no interest, and no ability to take the time to explain things. Uncle Frank had the interest. He was the glue and stability that held our crazy family together, and it was when he died that everything fell apart. Carry his name with pride.

  3. Very appropriate analogy... can't wait to read more. Thanks for the comment on my post by the way. I fully agree with Pres. Bush's statement... but as you pointed out, I'm not inclined to think that he really believed it. That was one of his problems... on the occasions that he did make good sense, he didn't really seem fully convinced by what he was saying.