Whatever Happened To Sacrifice?

Posted by | September 19, 2011 10:15 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Frank Bruni wrote an insightful column on the problem in both Europe and the United States of the privileged classes (including the political classes) becoming addicted to their comforts.

Will the people who have already made it cling as tightly as ever, or perhaps more tightly than before, to their privilege and affluence, even if doing so lengthens the odds of outsiders’ gaining traction? Or will they budge enough so that opportunity still exists, some sense of fairness is preserved and investments with long-term payoffs can be made?. . .

In America there aren’t as many demonstrations, but it’s otherwise not so very different. Without additional revenue or entitlement reform — and it would be best to have both — we can’t spend as much money as we should on schools, roads and much else to stay globally competitive and position ourselves for optimal growth.

It’s been frequently commented upon before, but after September 11 President Bush had an opportunity to ask for sacrifice, but instead he started an unnecessary war in Iraq (asking a small part of the population to make the ultimate sacrifice) and told the rest of us to go shopping.  Because of that, the sacrifices required to return us to economic growth are now even greater.  Our greatest period of prosperity, the one that brings tears to Speaker Boehner’s eyes, was built on the sacrifices of World War II and the active involvement of government building roads and supporting education (which required the sacrifice of lots of tax dollars) and creating a safety net.  To return to prosperity requires a return to sacrifice, especially among those with the most.  Are we up to it?

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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