Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Banana Republic, USA?

Will America's fiscal issues drive it to become the next Banana Republic where the rich collect and others pay? If the Heritage Foundation has its way, it will.

A new foundation report suggests that the U.S. government pay its debts by liquidating assets. And if the Heritage Foundation thinks it, it's a good bet the proposal is going to be showing up in public policy debates as the presidential election cycle gets under way.

The report didn't name specific assets to be sold, but many valuable assets owned by the government include land, buildings, water, energy generation facilities, interstate highways and gold, whose prices are at record highs. The government also provides services that include air traffic control and passenger railroads.

The foundation's proposal to balance the nation's budget includes no tax increases—surprise, surprise.

This so-called "conservative" proposal could devastate the outdoor public-lands legacy of the American West, where people expect to be able to hike, bike, camp, hunt and fish without prohibitive entrance fees.

Toll roads in a place where distances between towns are not a few miles, but hundreds of miles, would hobble commerce and impoverish Westerners.

Privatizing federally owned dams that generate electricity would put them in the hands of companies whose sole concern would be for their stockholders' pocketbooks, not the welfare of the region.

The majority of Idahoans claim to be conservatives even as they enjoy public lands and the country's lowest electric bills. But ask if they want to create a we-collect-while-you-pay Banana Republic and the answer will be a liberally thunderous "No!"

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