JLF’s Senior Political Analyst Mitch Kokai wrote an interesting opinion piece in Carolina Journal this week comparing the federal government to enabling parents. Kokai writes:

It’s a hard lesson for some parents to learn: Foot the bill every time your adult child runs into financial trouble, and that child is more likely to continue running into trouble.

Cut off the flow of parental cash instead, and your child is more likely to learn responsibility for his own debts and obligations.

Like a parent should do with an adult child, Kokai says the federal government should cut off the irresponsible spending spigot. Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at the Cato Institute and a recent guest on JLF’s “Head Locke” podcast, agrees:

“Money from Washington seems to be ‘free,’ so state politicians spend it recklessly.”

One problem is that the flow of tax dollars is confusing and inefficient. Kokai quotes Edward:

 “Americans across the country are taxed,” Edwards said. “The money goes to Washington. Then the Washington bureaucracies spill back out money that funds your local city bus system. This makes no sense to me. It seems to me that we ought to fund local activities … locally. You get much more responsible and efficient government that way.”

Kokai ends his piece with one major difference between an enabling parent and the federal government:

A parent can continue covering his child’s bills indefinitely, as long as the money is available. A federal government carrying a multitrillion-dollar debt does not enjoy the same luxury.

Read the full piece here. Learn more about federal aid dependency here, and listen to this episode of “Head Locke” here.