Thursday, August 4, 2011

And The Beat Goes On…

by Gordon Cooper

From Broader View Weekly, August 4, 2011.

Let me tell you about my uncle. He’s usually a pretty good guy, always lending a hand to those in need. He doesn’t like to see people suffer, so he has a tendency to overextend himself from time to time. In fact, he has become so “compassionate” toward others that his own children and family have suffered. After spending all his savings, he has been forced to travel far and wide seeking lenders and creditors. Each time he promises a quick repayment, but then he sees another needy soul or another grand project and back to the creditors he goes.

The people to whom he gives so much assistance, however, have become so accustomed to my uncle’s charitable ways that they scream and whine whenever he tries to scale back his gifts or if he asks them to accept some personal responsibility for their own needs.

Now my uncle is so deep in debt that he really needs an intervention. That is why some concerned members of his family and I got together last year and introduced him to some people who would tell him the hard truths about financial security. They met with him and told him he would have to slow down his spending habits, restore his credit rating and to think of his children and grandchildren who would be saddled with his debt.

Of course, my uncle, like so many others who have addictive personalities, doesn’t like the idea of limiting his spending. He seems to think he can just go and find another source of revenue and then everything will be okay. He says he will spend less and be more responsible - if he just gets a little bit more to spend. He seems to think he can spend his way back to a good credit rating if he can only find another lender (China) to borrow a little more or ask for more money (confiscate) from some wealthy people in the neighborhood.

Now, we all know this uncle is our dear old Uncle Sam, and we are all suffering as his children when he doesn’t see the error of his ways. Our current debt – over 14.3 TRILLION DOLLARS, weighing over 315 MILLION POUNDS in $100 bills – is like an anchor on the ship of our economy. She can’t float with that kind of a burden dragging along the bottom of the ocean.

We MUST do something about the debt. Merely raising the ceiling without reinforcing the floor doesn’t make the house fit for the elephant. We need to remodel the house. That means making tough choices and facing hard facts.

Fact number one was raised by former Republican Senator from New Hampshire, John Sununu, writing in the August 8, 2011 issue of Time magazine (pg. 27). He revealed that an alarming 47% of all Americans are receiving at least one Federal benefit. Our uncle is supporting, in one or way another, almost half of us!

People, we have met the enemy and he is us!

This budget problem will not go away – even if the debt ceiling is raised (at the time of this writing, Saturday – 7/30, no deal had been made to raise it by Tuesday) – it will have to be raised again and again, unless and until we get serious about limiting our spending.

This means we (at least 47% of us) have to stop asking our uncle to do things for us we can and should do for ourselves. We have over 24 different job training programs, for example, that are wasteful and redundant. We subsidize everything from Alpaca farmers to Mohair producers to Ethanol blenders to Oil drillers and yet we wonder why our uncle can’t pay his bills.
The time is ripe for a revolution in our way of dealing with our uncle. We need to intervene. Just as we did in November of 2010, we need to tell him the hard truth. He is out of his own money and he just cannot afford to give away other people’s money.
In closing, let me quote a speech I heard recently:

“America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began…”

Again, I must give credit where credit is due. The above speech was delivered by Barack Obama on the night he won the primary campaign in June, 2008. I agree. This is our moment. Let’s turn the page on the past and slow down the spending!

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