Learning to say ‘No’

I’m not a parent. I’m mostly thankful for that. I know that parenting is often a thankless task, made harder by the discipline it takes to say ‘no’ for the seemingly endless impulsive wantings of offspring from infants to adolescents.

Unfortunately, the same sort of dynamics have taken a powerful hold on electoral politics. No politician dares so much as hint that program, budget or entitlement cuts are contingent upon their election – to the contrary, there will be more of everything, for everyone – but with absolutely no tax increases.

It doesn’t take a degree in economics or finance (actually, one in sociology might hinder understanding) to figure out that endlessly more of everything is “unsustainable” (a currently fashionable word) and that something’s got to “give”, bottom-line wise, eventually.

No matter, say the politicians, and apparently the electorate, let’s just keep promising stuff, all the while ignoring the price tag, because, in most cases, it’ll be paid by future generations. Business and political columist, Kelly McParland put it this way:

“In the history of really bad economics, I doubt there’s ever been one generation that lived so high off the hog while letting the bills pile up for payment by a subsequent set of grandchildren. We justified it to ourselves (or some of us did) by pretending it was out of concern for the less fortunate. We needed baby bonuses, pension schemes, retirement supplements, housing assistance, medical coverage and poverty alleviation programs because we were progressive, open-minded people in favour of social justice. Except we weren’t really willing to pay for it. Not with our own money, anyway.”

A number of economies have hit the wall of “no” much in the same manner that motor vehicles unintentionally hit abutments. It seems to me the way to avoid the collision is to apply the brakes in advance; learn to say ‘no’ to yourself and the politicians that are spending your grandchildren’s money while pandering for your vote.

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