The $1.2 trillion in across the board budget cuts called "sequestration" -- beginning with $85 billion that is expected to kick in on March 1 -- is just what the doctor ordered: a detox protocol for a nation addicted to entitlement spending and bloated budgets in every facet of government.
No addict likes the idea of going into a detox unit. Why? Because it hurts. He knows that, while Librium or methadone will be used to make getting off drugs easier, the final result will be to leave his system without alcohol or heroin, and without the detox meds that mimic them. In the end, he will be left to face reality and deal with it, without false, chemical courage.
The way that detox works is to reduce addictive medication slowly, but surely—to taper off. With every reduction in Librium or methadone doses, the mind may react with anxiety, and the body may react with a rising pulse rate. While seizures are to be avoided (but are almost never fatal), the patient has to be made to understand that it won’t be painless to reverse the dependency on intoxicants for which he is responsible.
No pain, no gain.
The American drug of choice is wild partying with entitlement spending and bloated budgets in many government agencies and departments.
This drug has allowed our people to feel better than they should about their economic circumstances, their educational system, our ability to defend our nation and our own abilities to sustain our lifestyles—whether those lifestyles are propped up by free cell phones, or funny money Medicare insurance, or programs to bail out bankrupt companies and forgive home mortgages that people legally contracted to pay, or manic spending sprees on roads, bridges and federal buildings built with money printed by the Federal Reserve (which is an oxymoron).
The only reason detox is any good, by the way, is that it can set the stage for a period of sobriety, making amends and coming up with strategies for living the truth, instead of living a lie.
This amounts to coming up with real solutions to problems, rather than dodging them by deluging them with more drugs. Genuine creativity is kindled by heartfelt desire, necessity and, often, some amount of suffering. It is short-circuited by slight of hand, laxity of mind and anything that artificially makes one believe things are better than they really are—like alcohol or marijuana or heroin or government handouts paid for with borrowed funds or fake currency.
Without access to the drugs of rampant entitlements, as we begin to get sober, we will have to be more creative in delivering needed services to those poor people who truly need help. We will need to be more creative in the ways in which we incentivize entrepreneurs to truly power our economy with courageous investment and bold ideas. We will need to be more creative in the ways we defend our country and spread liberty around the globe.
So, while sequestration (for which, you may read detoxification) will, perhaps, hurt, we should be more concerned if it does not. Because that would mean that we could have been detoxed faster, ridding ourselves of toxins sooner and demonstrating (no small thing) our resolve to bear some pain in order to make real gains.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.