denied.pngTony Blair, the former British prime minister, said “Leadership is the art of saying no. Saying yes is easy.”

Given limited resources, every yes is a no to something else. Good decision makers always weigh what they are saying no to whenever they say yes. It is wise to make explicit the opportunity cost of what we say no to when we say yes.

Somehow it has become the popular mindset, the political zeitgeist, that it is downright mean to say no, that it is somehow cruel to deny anyone, anywhere, any possible benefit at any time. The implicit assumption is that there are infinite resources available, that there will never be a day of accounting, that it is simply a matter of willingness to reach into our bottomless bag of goodies and share, share, share, like the nice people we should be.

Unfortunately, the bottomless bag of goodies is funded by debt, and currently it is debt that stretches beyond encumbering our children to burdening even our grandchildren. I can think of nothing more cowardly, more selfish, than spending the money of future generations because we lack the will to discipline ourselves, the courage to say no.