Thursday, September 20, 2012

Election 2012: Social Issues vs Economic Issues

I saw one of those "on the street" interviews the other day, where a woman stated that she's on the fence as to whether to cast her vote based on economics or on social issues. Personally, I think in our current situation, that's a no-brainer for a number of reasons.

First of all, let's be clear about the terms. When people use the term social issues,, they're talking about abortion, gay marriage, religion and perhaps legalizing marijuana. When the discussion is about economics it's about jobs, unemployment, the debt and regulation. Which set of issues is top priority right now?

If you're not sure, ask yourself, would you move to North Korea if they legalized gay marriage? Would you buy a house in Cuba if you knew you could sit on the front porch and spark up a joint without fear of prosecution? I'm guessing probably not. Our economic situation is dire. If it's not addressed, the "social" issues will be trivial.

There's also the question of the proper role of government. Is it the job of our government to tell us what to believe and how to behave? Aren't these things that free individuals can work out among themselves? The truth is politicians don't set societal norms, they follow them and ride them. President Obama was against gay marriage until just recently, because it was politically unwise to be in favor or it. Public support is shifting however, and even former First Lady Laura Bush has said that she believes it is inevitable. We work these things out by consensus and opportunistic politicians follow the trend. They will not be worked out and definitively settled by legislation, at least not until the general population has already moved in one direction or another.

But back to today's reality. We are heading toward economic crisis. However much you may hate the rich, raising taxes in a down economy will not bring in more revenue and will likely cause a deeper recession. If the government's spending is not curtailed, the only way out will be massive printing of more money, with the intended result of massive inflation. This would fix the debt problem while devastating most Americans. It's the cowards way out. The other option is to cut the size and scope of government, make it easier to do business in America and grow our way back to a sane balance between government spending and private sector production.

Putting social issues before economic issues at this particular point in time is like getting caught in a burning building because you couldn't decide which shirt to wear while evacuating. Let's put the fire out first and give ourselves the luxury of having time to debate social issues.

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