A few weeks ago, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich argued that the federal budget “isn’t just a bunch of numbers on a sheet or paper. The budget is a moral document.”
Do you agree? Are government budgets moral documents? How should our morals and values guide our political decisions about budget cuts and deficits?
Are government budgets moral documents? Hmmmm…
Two sayings which many of our parents loved repeating come
- Actions speak louder than words.
- Put your money where your mouth is.
Of course budgets are moral documents! Regardless of what we
might say that we value, budgets tell us what we are actually going to do, where we are putting our money.
Consequently, budgets tell us what we really value.
In so doing, they paint a picture of our communal moral landscape.
Here’s an example. Politicians (and others, of course) love
to talk about “doing what’s right for our children.” Just recall some of the slogans that have been paraded before us like “Children First,” or “No Child Left Behind,” not to mention all those references to “family values.” An outsider could hear or read those slogans and conclude that we really take care of our children. Until she or he looked at our budgets where the entities which serve children—like education,
departments of children and family services, Headstart, TennCare, daycare regulators, etc.—are consistently underfunded
The reality is children, and those who attend to them, have
little political power. Poor children have virtually none. So politicians
attend to them when those with political power have been cared for first. Children, especially poor children, get the leftovers. We’ll never see “Political Power First” as a campaign slogan, but it seems to me to be political reality. And it speaks volumes about our moral landscape, about what is really valued by politicians and those who vote them into office.
I fear that what it’s saying isn’t pretty.