It’s Time to Change the Change and Start Over
There’s a worn spot through the leather of the steering wheel in my pickup.
There are rips in the seat as well. My hand naturally rests on the torn spot, and the rips in the leather seat scratch my legs. It’s to be expected from an 11-year-old vehicle with 148,000 miles on it.
I’d like to buy a new truck. Actually, I’d like to buy two new trucks, because the other one is even older than this pickup. But I won’t. We’ll continue to drive these, patching them together as best we can and hoping they won’t collapse before the economy turns back to growth and I feel confident in managing debt.
Until then, the rips and tears remain a constant and persistent reminder of my own fiscal insecurities amid larger national economic stagnancy, uncertainty and growing gloom.
It’s a fascinating lesson about the difference between individual American households or business owners, that they can so easily recognize when it’s time to tighten the belt, to retract, save, avoid excessive debt and balance budgets, while government continues to spend, bicker, and look for ways to blame others for its own fiscal irresponsibility.
It’s unfortunate that Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S. long-term debt came despite $2 trillion in faulty assessment data, but the S&P had long warned of this possibility if politicians didn’t begin to address our unsustainable entitlements as a major source of that debt. Even with the downgrade’s shortcomings, however, it doesn’t change the truth of the call.
The downgrade was intended to land — and should have landed — on Washington elites like a face slap. Gone with the winds of political correctness, in days gone by, a face slap was a useful way to shock someone into instant recognition that he or she had done or said something completely out of bounds. In most cases, the one slapped took corrective action without delay.
Not this bunch. The Obama administration went after the S&P, and Democrats went after the tea party, calling it the “tea party downgrade.” Seriously? The most strident group in the country, advocating reduced government spending that if implemented might have avoided the negative grade assessment, is to blame?
So here we are. A modest but ultimately inconsequential debt ceiling agreement has been passed after histrionics and political lunacy which ran right up to the brink of debt default; and a downgraded assessment of our nation’s capability to meet its fiscal responsibilities has reverberated around the world, gyrating markets and creating new negative rumors and speculation on the strength of other nations besides our own. Whispers growing louder have it that a return to global recession is more than a possibility.
This country should be leading the world toward recovery by now and on a renewed path toward growth, low unemployment and stability. We’re not, and it’s because of a political, social and economic ideology that government can tax, spend and stimulate us back to fiscal health while at the same time provide limitless social entitlements.
It’s not working. Or, maybe it is working if as a nation we’re willing to accept the end of American exceptionalism and gratefully embrace European socialist models of economic mediocrity, low growth and steady higher rates of unemployment. At the moment, that’s the road we’re bumping down.
Sadly, because no one wants any president to fail, this presidency is becoming a study in clueless leadership.
In times of trouble, America looks to its president for strength, integrity and conviction in the principles that made our country great. This president blames everyone but himself for our woes, has no plan to meet our financial obligations, and remains wedded to the notion that government is always the solution rather than the problem.
I like to think that the average American voter has seen enough. That in 2012 they’ll vote for the candidates they think recognize that the size and scope of the federal government must be slashed. That tax codes and entitlements must be reformed, and that businesses must once again be seen not as our enemies, but as the true generators of sound economies, employment security and growth.
In the meantime, I suppose I can still afford tape, glue and Band-Aids to hold my trucks together.
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.
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