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I almost feel sorry for the politicians these days -- almost. It’s very clear that the American people want our leaders to cut government spending, but it’s also equally clear that they dare not touch entitlements. There’s a conundrum for you.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, when asked what two things should be the government’s top priority, 56 percent of Americans responded, "job creation and economic growth"; 40 percent said, "cutting government spending and the deficit." But at the same time, only 23 percent favor cutting Medicare, and 22 percent favor cutting Social Security.
Come on! I’ve been warning you about this for months. Americans are gripped by an entitlement fever. We’re all for making sacrifices, so long as someone else is making the sacrifices. Look at the war in Wisconsin over collective bargaining and pension and healthcare contributions for public sector employees. When asked to sacrifice, the public sector unions went berserk.
Folks, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t buy in to the postmodern promise that we can have our cake and eat it, too. We will all have to make sacrifices if the country is ever to escape the shadow of this gargantuan debt. Take Medicare, which I participate in. If I have to pay more to participate in Medicare, so be it. At the same time, I’d also want the waste and abuses cleaned up.
And as Christians, we ought to be especially concerned about what the deficit means to future generations. As I have said, it is positively immoral that we saddle our children and grandchildren with debt we pile up because we refuse to sacrifice.
This is why I applaud my friend Ron Sider and Evangelicals for Social Action. They have just released a statement entitled “A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal for American Debt Crisis.” It’s a powerful document that calls not only on the government but on all Americans to get serious about reducing the debt. In fact, it’s so spot-on, I’d like to read to you just one paragraph:
“Reforming our culture of debt is not just the responsibility of government. A materialistic, live-for-the-moment mentality has seduced many Christians and many Americans to live beyond their means. Churches must disciple their members toward stewardship, justice, and concern for the poor. Families must change their thinking and spending. Businesses must be concerned not just with short-term corporate profits but also with long-term community well-being and the common good. But government does have the primary responsibility to reverse at least one part of our mad rush to economic disaster -- our ever-increasing government debt.”
Masterfully written. Now, I myself did not sign “A Call for Intergenerational Justice” because of its stance on federal funding for education (which I believe should be reserved to the states and localities). But I do urge you to read it, and if you agree with it, sign it and send it to your friends and family. Come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to it.
Again, we can’t have it both ways. We all agree that we must cut government spending. But we should all agree that all of us must make sacrifices. And we the Church must reject the culture of debt.