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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Parties go unpunished for cycles of waste and blame

Editor,

The spectacular failure of the Obamacare rollout has given much fuel to Republican opposition of the Democrats’ agenda and has bolstered their criticism of the Obama administration. Sadly, the greater lesson here is being lost on both parties and, no matter the outcome, it will be business as usual in Washington until we simply run out of money.

In 2003, Republicans were where Obama is today. They rolled out a Big Government plan to invade Iraq on the false claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that we needed to fight terrorism by establishing more democracy in the Middle East. When it turned out that no such weapons existed, there was nothing but excuses and dismissals from the war’s supporters.

Today, Iraq is hardly a peaceful oasis of democracy. Republicans never really considered the possibility that Big Government could not make the world safe from terrorism and that such actions might actually cause more problems. Trillions were spent, thousands of lives were lost, and the conversation just faded into the background. The war continues today under a new administration.

In a more bipartisan way, the war on drugs offers us the same painful lesson, which is, again, mostly lost on both parties. A grand Big Government scheme was concocted to address the problem that some people’s use of intoxicants hurts themselves and others.

Decades after Nixon implemented this policy, America is the largest incarcerator in the world, there is widespread violence within a very lucrative drug trade and drugs are cheaper and more potent than they’ve ever been. Despite these massive failures and unintended consequences springing from this Big Government policy, even the most modest reforms, such as allowing people to use marijuana for medical purposes, only come after expensive and arduous political campaigns. With only modest reforms, the war on drugs rages on unabated.

Obama attempted to use Big Government to address the high cost of health care, and it too has failed miserably. Democrats have lots of excuses and explanations, and the party is showing few signs of retreat or reconsideration. Why would they retreat when Republicans are using these failures to gain the power needed to place themselves back in the Oval Office?

And it just may work. If so, the party of small government will push some Big Government agenda to address some other problem — possibly Iran. The effort will fail and produce unintended consequences, and we will pay a huge price for it. Then the Democrats will use those failures to regain power. Rinse and repeat a trillion dollars at a time.

The lesson neither party can seem to grasp is that Big Government cannot solve our problems, whether they are the cost of health care, drugs, violence in the Middle East, a bad economy or the high salt content in many American diets. The gains, when there are any, come at a huge price and are married to unintended consequences.

Despite repeated failures of Big Government, Republicans and Democrats alike continue down a road to failure as they advance their federal schemes with the fervent support of taxpayers, who end up footing the bill. And in the end, we keep looking to government for solutions that never come.

The king is dead. Long live the king. Wake up, people. Seriously.

Kevin Killough,
UNM alumnus