"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." -- JP Curran, 1790
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Here's the plan in a nutshell. People overextended their budgets, and can't pay the bills. (A lot of this is due to higher gas prices, especially at the lower income levels where an increase in necessities like this represents a regressive tax, effectively). Businesses overextended and took too many risks, and they are looking at the very real possibility of paying the piper. This is an election year. That's about it. In a normal free market, we'd let the people and companies learn a lesson, and make ourselves stronger in the long run, because of it. We have a national debt (the total amount we owe), and we are running a deficit (spending more than we make). The answer is to cut spending and make it possible for people to be more productive. The answer is not to increase the debt!
Look at this in terms of your own personal budget. If you earn $50k/year, have a $20k Mastercard bill, but you're spending $60k/year, what do you do? Well, a sensible person cuts spending, makes sacrifices, gets a second job, lives on cash, and pays down incrementally on the debt. Government, for some reason, can't think past the next election cycle (2 years), so long-term goals, such as debt reduction (that big Mastercard bill) and relatively short-term goals such as elimination of the defecit (bringing that $60k/year spending down to something below your $50k/year budget) are seemingly impossible for bureaucrats and elected 'leaders.'
John McCain won the debate last night, hands down. He not only drilled Obama on foreign policy (did anyone else notice that McCain seems to have written the book on U.S. - Russian (Soviet) Relations?), but he also gave specifics on cutting spending. Obama, even when pressed by the moderator, could not mention one spending cut. In fact, he took the question about spending and talked about where he'd invest MORE! When discussing the South Ossetia conflict between Russia and Georgia, Obama faced a situation he was naieve about, so he turned his answers to OIL! McCain's not exactly like the friendly panel of The View that Obama's used to, and it was interesting to see how this young, cool, suave candidate got obviously angry and uncomfortable when openly confronted with a different viewpoint! How dare he!
Credit is a killer in many ways. To the regular homeowner, credit card bills rack up, and the interest snowballs. Credit kills governments, as well. Rather than own up to what's going on, you can simply shift the burden to the next generation...after all, they don't even vote yet! My generation (people born in the 70's and 80's) is now facing an historic situation. We may be the first to inherit a weaker economy with fewer opportunities than our parents. Despite what politicians will tell you to pull the wool over your eyes, the problems are not complicated. In fact, the answers are very simple. They are not easy, but they are simple.
To the 100 million or so Americans with credit cards and massive debts, cut the cards. The credit companies don't exist to make life easier for you, they exist to keep you in debt so you will pay the "minimum monthly payments" for 30 years or more. If you don't have the cash for it, do you really need it? I'm just as guilty as the next guy for reaching for the old plastic for an item that I "needed" right at that moment. We need to enter into a new era of fiscal responsibility for ourselves and for our children. Just as banks lost millions by investing in Dot-Com's during the 1990's without sound business principles, companies are going to lose out by taking risks by giving people with $2000/month incomes huge $1999/month mortgages with $0 down!
Rather than learning a lesson about responsibility, high-risk companies are now going to come to rely on taxpayer-funded bailouts. The two major problems with this are that the high-risk companies will still be out there taking risks without learning a lesson, and the government is spending money it doesn't have. The federal government can basically only print more money to solve this problem. If you think $3.90/gallon gas is expensive, see what happens when we have 5% or 10% inflation rates!
So, with a nation in debt, spending more than it makes, and promising $700 billion to bailout failed companies, we have a Senator (Obama) who is proposing $800 billion MORE in programs and entitlements over the next decade. He thinks that he's going ot make the American people better off by taxing those even rich who make $250k or more a year. Some of those evil rich are your local supermarket, the small mom and pop owned pizza joint down the road, pretty much everyone who employs people, and 99% of all corporations. In economics there is a theory called the "incidence of tax." It basically states that depending on the commodity, a tax increase will be shared in some part by the consumer and by the corporation producing the good or service. This is entirely false, and it has never been proven true. An incidence of tax falls 100% on the consumer, therefore as taxes on corporations increase, they either 1) raise prices, 2) cut jobs, or 3) move to a business-friendly country like Ireland (yes, Ireland has the best business tax policies of any modern nation, we're somewhere around #15 or so now). Sometimes companies do all 3.
Government can't solve our problems, because it is the problem. A free maket system, and a free society requires accountability and responsibility to function. That's why so many other nations jumped ship to a communist or socialist system, because you don't have to take responsibility for your own lives in such a system. Are we so far removed from our pioneering forefathers who fought tooth and nail for freedom that we are comfortable with compliant complacency?
The federal government needs to make some sacrifices. It can start with the Constitution. Secure our borders, defend our nation, deal with foreign nations, and settle disputes between the states. Other than that, it should basically butt out. Eliminate federal taxes, and let the states distribute an amount necessary for national defense and basic functions of the three branches of government on an as needed basis. Rather than letting government spend the money first, and then see how much revenue it has, we should return to a balanced budget requirement. First see what revenues you have from the previous year, then spend accordingly. Only national defense issues (meaning huge wars, not sustainments for increasing contracts) should be immune.
It wouldn't take much to get things moving, but people have to push their elected leaders to move. Government moves at the pace of Congress, which is somewhere between a dead stop and a snail's pace. Unfortunately they are slowly driving us to the cliff's edge, so we have to make a 180 degree turn. Although it will start with John McCain, the more important part is that we have a Conservative Congress. (Sadly Republican and Conservative are less and less synonymous today than in years past).
It's time to take resonsibility. Sphere: Related Content