Monday, July 25, 2011

Stop giving the alcoholic the bottle – Don’t Raise the Debt Ceiling

Last week, my good friend and colleague, Glenn Bertsch, wrote that as Conservative Christians, we should be in favor of raising the debt ceiling. His main reason for this was that we had a moral obligation to keep funding entitlement programs like Social Security and Welfare.

I respectfully disagree. I do not think we have a moral obligation to fund these programs. Don’t raise the debt ceiling. I think it’s time to take the easy money away from the Federal Government – which spends money faster than drunken sailors on shore leave – and put our nation back on the road to prosperity. Here’s why.

Proverbs 22:7 says that the “borrower is the slave to the lender.” And ain’t that the truth! We owe trillions of dollars to China, a corrupt, evil, despotic regime. Credit rating agencies are threatening to take away our AAA rating, which will mean that we will have to pay even more money in interest. There is serious concern that we couldn’t even fight a war in the next ten years because of our nation’s money woes. And just as scripture teachers, our nation is a slave because we borrow. The 14.3 trillion dollars that we are in debt is weighing down our nation. Kids not yet born will be saddled with their parents’ and grandparents’ debt. And why is our nation in debt?

It’s not because of military spending. After all, protecting the nation is one of the few things that the Federal Government IS authorized to do under the Constitution! No, we’re in debt mainly because of entitlement programs.

Social Security, the Federal Government’s promise to give elderly people a free retirement, was created in 1935 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his fellow leftist Democrats in Congress. What business did the Federal Government have in taking care of the elderly? And furthermore, what business does the Federal Government have in taking care of the poor, the sick, the weak?

Glenn thinks that the Federal Government should take care of these people because it was promised back in 1935. I disagree. The Federal Government is taking my hard earned money – and borrowing trillions more – so that people don’t suffer. But don’t people see what is happening? Our nation is becoming a slave. Our nation is on its way to bankruptcy. Our nation is facing an inability to field a strong military to protect us. Because of our Federal Government’s misguided attempts to play god and protect people from poverty and illness, our entire nation is facing destruction and ruin.

It’s time to say enough is enough. It’s time to say no more raising the debt ceiling. It’s time to tell seniors on Social Security that we’ll pay what we can, but the money isn’t there right now. It’s time to say that God is our hope, not the Federal Government. It’s time to say that the United States of America will no longer be a slave. It’s time to stop borrowing, pay what we can, and just cut the size of the government.

Glenn is right. This is a moral issue. But the moral issue is that the Federal Government should NEVER have promised to play god back in 1935. The Federal Government has to be honest and admit that it was wrong, and that it cannot keep taking money from hard working people through taxes and redistributing it (once upon a time, we called that “socialism and “communism.”) The Federal Government has to live within its means.

But there’s one more thing to this equation. The Church – individual Christians around the nation – need to stand up and look out for the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Jesus did say in Matthew 26:11 that “you will always have the poor with you,” but He also commanded us as Christians (He DIDN’T give this command to government!) “to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

So, don’t raise the debt ceiling. Stop the entitlement programs. But ordinary American men women and children must reach out to our fellow citizens in Christian love and charity and provide the care and gospel message to the hurting that the Federal Government will never be able to provide.

By Will Estrada


  1. I must say that comparing the federal government to drunken sailors is not fair to the drunken sailors.

  2. And the thing that nobody is talking about... the fact that these entitlement programs started when the average age of death was in the mid-50s... they were never intended to support people for twenty years. I certainly don't wish for the average age of death to regress, but SOMEONE needs to start talking about this stuff. The average American has absolutely no idea what's going on... or the severity of the issue...

  3. Hey Will! (and the rest of the GenJ/HSLDA staff)

    I know that our entitlements are unsustainable and immoral in their current state. I think most people know the former fact, though not the latter.

    My question is, what do you think the ideal Social Security, Medicare, etc. should look like? Nonexistent? Programs only for those living in dire straits? Privatized investment accounts somewhat similar to IRAs?

    Then, once we have determined an ideal system, how do we accomplish creating it? In today's political climate, any reform (no matter how basic) to the entitlement programs is going to be very difficult to pass through the legislative process. Even if it is enacted, those who support it are likely to face punishing results in the next election. How important is the issue to us? If we fight this issue, it may be a very long time before conservative have a majority again, which could mean a serious setback for all pro-family, pro-limited government, pro-national security issues.

    Politicians have been kicking the proverbial can down the road ever since FDR implemented Social Security. I definitely believe these issues need to be addressed, but I am unsure of the timetable. I don't think we can do anything in this Congress--even if it is only stopping the debt ceiling increase. I think balancing the budget, reforming entitlements, and many other pressing issues may just need to wait until we have a new President and a majority in both houses of Congress. People want to see results, not legislative deadlock. Even the brief stalemate over the debt ceiling is making many people nervous.

    I have been struggling with how to deal with the entitlements for a long time, so I am definitely interested to hear your thoughts. Thanks for the post!

  4. It seems, if anything, Will is mostly agreeing with Glenn-- he disagrees on only one point. He says about as much when he mentions "Glenn is right-- this is a moral issue. But the moral issue is that the Federal Government should NEVER have promised to play god back in 1935". He then goes on to say the immorality of debt is worse than immorality of effectively allowing the elderly to starve when they don't get the promised funds-- that is where they disagree.

    The key point I think Will is missing is that the USFG arguably has more of an obligation to it's citizens, to make the promised welfare payments, than to foreign governments and investors.

  5. Here's my take on the whole debt ceiling issue, from a different perspective. I agree that morality should be a part of it, but social security should not be what dictates our actions on the debt ceiling.

  6. Mr. Estrada,

    Thanks for your article. I enjoy English and grammar - and arguments!

    "Conservative" should not be capitalized.

    Replace "be in favor of raising" with "favor raising."

    Replace "And just as scripture teachers" with "And just as Scripture teaches" (to capitalize Scripture and correct the typo).

    Replace the awkward clause "The 14.3 trillion dollars that we are in debt" with "Our debt of 14.3 trillion dollars."

    The fourth paragraph should be cut and the last sentence perhaps incorporated into the previous paragraph. Though I certainly agree with your conclusion, your modus ponens argument that the military cannot be what got us into debt contains the unstated premise that nothing authorized by the Constitution can cause debt. I'm sure that most would agree that this assumption is weak at best.

    Capitalize "god" in the sixth and eighth paragraphs; you're using it as a proper noun and as the true God's name.

    In the sixth paragraph you set up a straw man and knock it down; in other words, you incorrectly stated Mr. Bertsch's position and knocked that down instead of what he actually wrote. No one thinks that we should continue a promise made in 1935. But we promised it again the next year. And the next. And the next. And we promised it in 2011 as well. Mr. Bertsch believes we should (1) stop promising it, and (2) that we should not break promises we already made. You must knock down this position to win the debate.

    You both agree that we should stop promising it, so the question is whether we should break a promise already made. Therefore, unless you want to contest that it is a "promise" in the normal sense, the debate boils down to this: Is it better to break a promise or go into debt?


    I've never thought of the issue in that light before - and perhaps others haven't either. A case that there are only two choices, and that going into debt is worse than breaking the Social Security promise, would make a very convincing argument.

    Finally, I really liked your argument that the church is responsible for the elderly and weak - not the government. That's the way it should be. From one perspective this means that, as Christians, we should begin doing our part to help the elderly, the (truly) poor, and the weak; from another it shows that when Christians do not do their job, someone (or something) else must do it for them - in our case, the government.

    Keep up the good work! (And the debate as well!)

    Charles S. McIntosh

    PS: Sharkfin, I wrote this last night before I saw your post - looks like we independently came up with the same conclusion!