Budget Cuts Will Stunt US Development

tug-o-warAs the United States continues to fumble through budget cut debates, or lack thereof, politicians are toeing a dangerous line determining the future of the Country. Development, in particular sustainable development, is a mode of investments and behaviors that aim to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Different from growth, development is not based on unlimited growth patterns, therefore respecting the limitations and necessities required to keep a system evolving and in balance. Since development provides a more comprehensive and realistic take on the path forward, it is disconcerting to review the House-approved budget cut list.

Prioritization for the 21st Century and Beyond

The budget cut’s take a focused approach to reducing or eliminating several social and environmental programs, including limiting the power of the EPA and removing the AmeriCorps program. This is a fascinating and all together un-strategic approach. Since the health of the environment directly impacts the health of the Country including limits to growth, human health, and quality of goods created, this seems like a step back in time. And since investing in the education, human health, volunteerism, and addressing development issues within the US comes through several social programs including AmeriCorps, it is counter-intuitive to cut these programs if the end goal is to create a healthier, more educated, and resilient Nation. Reviewing the programs that are being carefully passed over for budget cuts hints at the archaic thinking that the budget cut process has thus far utilized.

Budget Cuts are Development, not Political Issues

The outrage in Wisconsin highlights the polarization of the “sides” instead of the hard work that budget cuts require to make effective long-term decisions. The United States was founded on previously unchartered principles that spoke to freedom, the valuation of each human being, and the distinct privilege of choice. Choosing individuals with the unique foresight to plan for the sustainable development of a nation is something very unique to the United States. Yet reviewing the political polarization, it would appear that Americans are more drawn to fighting words than working together to create a joint future. The pure politics and games being played by both sides are constant distractions from the real issues at hand. How will the United States proceed to develop? It has fallen behind the majority of developed nations, and yet some politicians continue to advocate for looser regulations and cuts to programs that help build the human capital of the Country. Development, which will be partially dictated by the budget cuts, is not a political issue, it is a human issue. One that both sides should be addressing with honesty, heart, and the resolve to find an agreement that works not only for the political system, but for the citizens that system was put in place to guide.

Conspiracy versus Transparency

With the advent of intense political polarization, there has been an uprising of both conspiracy theories and great demands for transparency in politics. From the prank call to Scott Walker, in which the Governor fails to recognize the impact on the individuals suffering from the lockout and lack of discussion, to political scandals being brought front and center. The question is, what does this do for the American people? Does it help create jobs? Does it help guide them through difficult times? Does it help assure them that those who have been elected are acting in their best interest? The answer of course is No. By deflecting their responsibility by portraying their work as “better than…” instead of just “better. Period.” they are missing the point. Without considering the full system of consequences, including ecological, social, and economic equally, they will continue to fail to not just balance the monetary budget, but to balance the severe debt of social and ecological justice as well.

Who Pays for Inefficient and Ineffective Politicians

With all of the public fanfare, who is keeping this type of low productivity afloat? Unfortunately, it is the US taxpayers once again. By portraying budget cuts as black or white, right or wrong, and even all or nothing, they have undermined the purpose of the democratic system that requires majority votes. Many proposed items are offered up, knowing that they will be shot down, in place of working out sensible compromises so both sides are able to create what is best for the people, not just their political parties. Talk of ‘making their mark’ or ‘sending a message’ is not half as admirable as the individuals who work together to determine what will help the United States not just get rid of debt, but prepare for a rapidly changing World in which they have already fallen behind.

Regardless of which party or ideals a US citizen associates with, it is in everyone’s best interest as a nation, a nation that consumes 1/3 of the world’s products and ¼ of its resources, to come together to plan for a future, together. The two most prominent “sides” aren’t going anywhere, so why not recognize their differences and work towards a solution in place of wasting precious negotiation time with stall tactics? Some claim this to be too idealistic. On a global scale, it is necessary. Time will tell whether US citizens can help guide their own political leaders to do what is best for their Country, and consequentially, the World.

Photo Credit: Terrence Nowicki Jr.