"I can stop anytime I want to."
These are the famous "last words" of drug addicts and alcoholics. They can't, of course. Not without help.
Once hooked drugs and alcohol are nearly impossible to shake. There is both a physical and a psychological dependency that keeps it's victims under its spell.
Such is the case, it seems with government spending.
Nobody in their right mind would ever consider spending the kinds of dollars our government is currently spending. "We're trying to stimulate the economy," they will argue. "The more we spend, the more you get," is another justification. The truth is that congress is hooked on spending and it can't stop.
Those in power think there will always be more money. They think the music will never stop. All they have to do is cry louder to make more money. They've come to imagine they've come into possession of a magic orange. Squeeze harder and the juice keeps flowing out.
Peggy Noonan puts it this way:
"When I see those in government, both locally and in Washington, spend and tax and come up each day with new ways to spend and tax - health care, cap and trade, etc. - I think: Why aren't they worried about the impact of what they're doing? Why do they think America is so strong that it can take endless abuse? I think I know part of the answer. It is that they've never seen things go dark ...
they don't feel anxious, because they never had anything to be anxious about. They grew up in an America surrounded by phrases - "strongest nation in the world," "indispensable nation," ... "highest standard of living" - and are not bright enough, or serious enough to imagine that they can damage that, hurt it, even fatally.
We are governed at all levels by America's luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists. But they're not optimists. They're unimaginative. They don't have faith, they've just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don't mind it when people become disheartened. They don't even notice."
But in the end, they must notice. The one thing no generation of parents can protect their children from is reality. No inheritance can withstand the foolishness of their heirs. The harsh arithmetic on the frontier, the outflow of dollars and cents, the gradual and then sudden loss of credibility as people see they are dealing not with serious people, but with gilded fools cumulate their irresistible effects.