Adults Are Responsible

by Don Boudreaux on February 2, 2010

in Other People's Money

Here’s a letter that I just sent to USA Today:

Concerned about the size of Uncle Sam’s budget deficit, you say that “It’s time for an adult conversation about federal taxes and spending” (“Obama’s big fiscal deficits reflect bipartisan failures,” Feb. 2).  Yes.  But no such conversation will take place where it matters most: in Washington.

Adults’ conversations about financial matters are mature and responsible because adults typically earn and spend their own money.  Children’s conversations about financial matters are childish and irresponsible largely because children live off of wealth earned by adults.  “Buy me this toy!” “Get me that dress!” “Take me to DisneyWorld!” – children too frequently issue selfish demands such as these precisely because children have little to lose by doing so.  If these demands are met, other people foot the bills.

Politicians’ and interest-groups’ conversations about taxes and spending are childish for the very same reason: the money they spend belongs to other people.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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