It’s no secret that the economy is in the toilet. Even jobs once thought to be insulated from even the toughest times are being eliminated. Decreased tax revenue has districts laying off teachers, hospitals are letting employees go, I bet even undertakers are seeing spending decrease.
There’s no argument that things are bad. But there is plenty of argument about who is to blame and what can be done to fix it. Our government is passing out money left, right, and sideways. There was last falls bank bailout, which edged close to a trillion dollars (may have even surpassed that amount by now, I can’t keep up anymore.) There were loans to the automakers, who are now asking for more money. Then there is the latest stimulus bill, again edging uncomfortably close to the trillion dollar mark.
Will any of it help? How quickly? And at what price to the future?
The entire debacle brings up something that has been painfully obvious during the past decade–the ridiculous partisanship that exists in Washington. It doesn’t take Scooby Doo to sniff out the mystery of where politicos stand on most anything–all one has to do is see which party they are a member of. Most any vote is made along such succint party lines, I wonder if the people wouldn’t be as well served in sending a group of trained chimps to Washington. Simply coach each chimp into how to vote, then the people can decide how many democrats and how many republicans monkeys will make up the Congress and Senate.
This is no time for political posturing. We need leaders who will do what is NEEDED, not what will make it easiest for them to win their next election. Leaders who will take action that is best for the country, not make decisions that are best for their party.
I’m no economist. I don’t even balance my own checkbook, so I don’t have the answers. But I do try to look at any given issue from a variety of angles, and I don’t look to Rush Limbaugh, the Huffington Post, or the email forwarded to me by the old lady down the street to form my opinions. (If you visit discussion boards, or even read the comments that follow many news stories, it’s almost laughable how so many people allow themselves to be parrots for pundits. Laughable if it weren’t so pathetic!)
The first question might be, should the government provide stimulus at all? Should companies that have fallen victim to their own risky practices and shoddy products be given money from the public coffers? Will pumping trillions into the damaged economy shore it up, or ultimately push it over the edge?
They are complex questions, and ones I don’t pretend to have the answer for. The truth is, I don’t think even the greatest minds know exactly what caused it, what will fix it, or how to keep it from happening again.
What I do know is that we have become, by and large, a nation that lives beyond it’s means. The average home has gotten larger while the average family has gotten smaller. What were once luxuries are now necessities. The savings account balance has been traded for the credit card balance.
And our politicians have spent, and spent, and spent without any plan or, seemingly, concern for where the money was coming from. And before anyone points any fingers, BOTH parties are guilty of this. In fact, during my lifetime, the national debt has grown at greater paces under Republican presidents, which makes me wonder what, exactly, conservatives are conserving anymore. Politicians have, in the past, been unafraid to make the painful decisions. During WWII, tax rates went higher, rationing went into effect, all to cover the needs we faced then. Not now. How much have we spent on the War on Terror, with nary a cut elsewhere or a tax increase to cover those costs? Just charge it for the next generation, is that our answer?
So, what should be done? Anything? How should we pay for it? What should be cut to pay for new spending? What lessons can we learn from this mess? Has it changed, forever, how you view your own finances?
*update…there is a site up, http://www.recovery.gov/ that promises to track where the stimulus money is going.