The Habit that Grew and Grew and Grew

I don’t often write or even speak about politics.  My reticence likely stems from growing up with parents who owned a small-town grocery store.  We learned to never talk religion, politics or smack about anyone, as they were likely someones cousin.  But the current reality in Washington is scary and so I must add my voice.

Congress’ solution to our debt crisis is like a cocaine addict saying that he’s going to use less…he’s still an addict…the habit is still there.

In simple terms, until we grow some cojones and focus on achieving a balanced budget and paying down our debt (that means we need surpluses), we will never be free.  We ARE on the road to economic demise.  Congress is snowing the American public with terminology.  Deficit is NOT debt.  Reducing the deficit is like paying only the minimum payment on a credit card…the debt climbs as does the interest expense.  Indeed, by the end of the decade the annual interest bill for our debt will be greater than the deficit itself!  What happens if interest rates escalate?

And Congress is only considering our National debt.  What about state and local governments?  Here’s a dose of reality for you.

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

My friends, until we insist that the 536 elected officials that control our nation’s budget take an across-the-board, no special interest, no social manupulation approach to deficit reduction, we are doomed.  We’re borrowing our future and those of us in business know that that’s a slippery slope.

I don’t profess to have the entire solution, but I know that any solution must be simple.  How about Al’s 4 Step Approach (I’d make it 12 steps, as congress is nothing but a bunch of addicts in need of “Friends of Bill,” but that makes it too complicated):

a) It’s time for our government to lead by example.  The first step is to vote themselves changes in their salary and benefit structure such that government employees are treated just like us common folk.  No “outside the mainstream” benefits, retirement, etc.

b) Now let’s install term limits and election reform.  Let’s double the term and then you’re out.  You get one shot with twice the time to make your mark.  No life-long pensions either.   Let’s focus on governing instead of getting elected.

c) Now that Congress is on an equal footing with us voters, let’s have a Balanced Budget amendment.  Can’t afford it…can’t do it.  Let’s get off the credit card economy.

d) OK, so now we’re on a “pay as you go plan.”  Now let’s fix the entire economy with a flat tax that provides enough surplus to pay 5% of our current debt annually?  With interest, we’ll be out in 30 years or so.  I’m happy to pay my fair share.  No deductions.  No loopholes.  No special credits.  Everyone pays their share.

Now, of course, I’ve taken a simplistic approach to a complex problem.  But the complexities are only the result of special interest groups; i.e; special attention.  I know that the accountants, IRS, tax lawyers lobby and scores of other special interest groups are against this concept because they’d have to focus on other things to make a living.  But until we get away from driving our government and economy with special interest groups (and creating legal barriers and then loopholes around them) we will never be free.   Our own Declaration of Independence begins with “…all men are created equal…”

Let’s have equal pain for equal gain.   Let’s get off the cocaine habit of deficit spending and get into rehab…NOW!

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