Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said last year, “History is going to judge whether we have the courage, character and the vision to stand up for America’s future. Those who take a walk, those who turn away, those who don’t have the gumption to stand up, are going to be judged very, very harshly.” Conrad intended to pass a budget resolution this month, but was overruled by Senate leadership. Believing they can evade electoral consequences by not voting on difficult budget matters, senators mirror the corrupt, greedy and myopic leadership of the pigs in “Animal Farm.”
Economist Milton Friedman, one of America’s greatest apostles for freedom and free markets, believed politicians are finger-in-the-wind types who can be trained: “The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion, which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it’s politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing, either.”
In other words, the onus is on us. Politicians will concern themselves with our interests only if they think we care. If we don’t care that they’ve violated the law by refusing to adopt a budget, and that they’ve spent us $16 trillion into debt, what do we care about?
Demand accountability and restraint, and don’t allow the word “trillion” to be normalized; after all, a trillion hours ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth! Don’t wait for the right people to get elected; remember, Belushi’s “Bluto” became a U.S. senator despite his 0.0 GPA. It’s a basic rule of life — If we tolerate out-of-control “Animal House” behavior and indifferent “Animal Farm” attitudes, we’ll just get more of it.
It’s not only a fiscal imperative — it’s a moral one.
Melanie Sturm has 15 years of private equity investment experience, previous to which she specialized in project finance at International Finance Corporation and mergers & acquisitions at Morgan Stanley and Drexel Burnham Lambert. She has an MBA from INSEAD and undergraduate degrees in international relations and economics from Tufts University.