By Richard Rahn
Are you more responsible than your government? If so, what can you do about it?
If your personal spending rises faster than your income each year, you eventually will go bankrupt. Responsible people understand this and thus refrain from taking on more debt than their income can support.
This basic fact is true of individuals, businesses and even governments — look at Greece and Detroit.
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President Obama presented his budget proposal for 2015 last week. As the accompanying chart shows, it calls for increasing government spending from $3.6 trillion this year to $5.9 trillion in 2024.
Much of this whopping increase is to be funded through more deficit spending — and thus increasing the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio, which is already at a record high for peacetime. Many good economists also think that the president is being overly optimistic about anticipated economic growth and government revenues.
There is nothing new about governments overspending and accumulating fatal amounts of debt.
A quote attributed to Cicero warned: “The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced. The arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced if the nation does not want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”
The people and the political class ignored the advice. The bread and circuses continued, the political leaders became increasingly corrupt, and the formerly invincible Roman army became so weakened that it was easily toppled by “barbarians.”
In the two millennia after Cicero, empire after empire rose — and fell, often as a result of excess government spending.
Read more: Washington Times
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