By Stu Lindberg
In recent weeks the print newspapers and online news sources have covered Vermont politicians making exciting announcements about grants being awarded for an assortment of local projects and initiatives. Gov. Phil Scott and his ribbon cutting ceremonies with state representatives come to mind.
At face value the uninformed citizen enthusiastically applauds such events and looks upon these politicians as heroic for delivering such large sums of money for these projects for “free.” Of course, anyone with a whit of sense knows that there is no such thing as free. Phil Scott and his minions in the two big parties conveniently fail to mention that Vermont state government has a $45 million dollar budget deficit and an $80 million dollar deficit in the education fund. This doesn’t seem to matter as long as money can be found to buy votes from the hapless citizenry.
The French political thinker and historian Alexis De Tocqueville two centuries ago warned us of the dangers of reckless spending and buying votes. He wrote, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and president of the United States also warned us. He wrote:
I sincerely believe … that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” — Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816.
Not much is said these days about President Jefferson, Alexis De Tocqueville or the debts of the state and federal government. The wisdom of Jefferson and his contemporaries is lost on the majority of present day politicians.
The U.S. national debt is a whopping $20 trillion dollars and growing. That is almost $63,117 for every man, woman and child and $176,300 for each taxpayer. I equate the national debt to a Texas-size asteroid of our own making hurtling toward the world economy. The asteroid is made of unrealistic campaign promises, payoffs to special interests, government grants and every form of pork and waste a career politician can fantasize about.
This asteroid will deprive us of our liberty and hinder our pursuit of happiness as much as one made of iron would deprive us of life. Moving from outer space and back to the ground in Vermont, I ask, what do the voting records of Vermont’s congressional delegation tell us about how these three career politicians — Leahy, Sanders and Welch — have addressed the national debt?
Citizens Against Government Waste is a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization representing more than 1 million members and supporters to eliminate waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the federal government. This organization gives the Vermont congressional delegation a rating of “hostile” in addressing wasteful government spending. Bernie Sanders has the dubious distinction of being rated as the most hostile member of the Congress in trying to rein in the destructive spending appetite of our government. In January 2013, Peter Welch was awarded “Porker of the Month” for attempting to circumvent legal authority to raise the debt ceiling which rests solely with the Congress. Welch distributed a petition to members of Congress suggesting that President Barack Obama be given a blank check to raise the debt ceiling at his own discretion. Say goodbye to separation of powers and hello to dictatorship.
Which raises the question: “Why do good Vermonters continue to elect people that willfully mortgage the future liberty and happiness of our children and grandchildren?”
Stu Lindberg writes occasional commentary for True North Reports. He lives in Cavendish, Vermont.