I was an interview guest last month, and the radio talk show host was asking me about the looming fiscal cliff. In the midst of discussing how our government must cut spending, the host had noted the title of my latest book – “The Virtues Of Capitalism, A Moral Case For Free Markets” – and after a few minutes of discussion, asked “do you mind if we take a phone call, Austin?”
Sometimes that word “moral” in the book title gets people very upset. This was one of those times.
“I’m a Pastor,” the show caller said, “and my Bible tells me that the ‘moral’ thing to do is to to love and to pray for our President, not to hate on him.” I noted to the caller that I had not said a word about President Obama. “Yeah, but all this rhetoric about ‘fiscal responsibility’ and ‘cutting spending’ is code talk for ‘I hate it that Obama won.’ Obama did win, and he did not create this crisis, so get over it…”
Thus was my experience a few weeks ago, being interviewed on a radio talk show in the “Bible Belt” region of the U.S. And the reaction I got from the clergyman (he has since emailed me, and I have every reason to believe that he’s really a Pastor) underscores some serious problems in our country. They are problems that both underlie, and yet transcend, our government debt crisis.
For one, Americans far too often trivialize our nation’s public policy. The Super Bowl is about “my team versus your team,” but debates about the laws and policies of our country are far more important. When Americans dismiss concerns over government debt as “you’re just hatin’ on my guy” – as the talk show caller did to me, and as many other Americans do regularly – then we’re in serious trouble.
Government debt is at a “code red” level of danger, and the choices that elected officials make over the coming two to four years or so will shape the world and our country’s future for decades to come. Save your zealotry for the “big game” – it’s time for Americans to engage their brains, not merely their passions.
And here’s another problem: far too many Americans seem to be illiterate when it comes to basic economics. We understand competition and excellence, success and failure, when it’s on the playing field or American Idol. But success in business is presumed by many to be ill-gotten gain, and people who make lots of money with successful enterprises are frequently dismissed as “greedy,” and deserving of more government confiscation of their money.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.