Idea junkie that I am, I was watching Robert Wright and James Pinkerton talk about Obama's Inauguration Speech. Pinkerton, a Fox News contributor, casually tossed out a fairly brilliant observation that reminds us of what matters.
[not verbatim ... but close enough]
"If Alzheimer's is going to cost us a trillion dollars, we could start cutting aid to medicare now. Or we could pump up research for Alzheimer's to try to accelerate a cure so that we don't incur those additional costs. It's pretty clear which is a greater social good: a cure for Alzheimer's or a balanced budget."
It's easy to create a panic about the deficit. But it's also worth remembering that if we decide that no other goal matters as much as deficit reduction, we miss a great number of other great possibilities. And possibilities that could either lower future costs or raise future incomes are typically much better than strategies for deficit reduction.