Politics and Cash En Masse
I just finished watching Rush Limbaugh’s speech at the CPAC event for the conservative political movement. Here are my feelings about what he said and what is going on in our nation right now:
Pre-1) I preface this by saying that I am not a conservative nor a liberal in the strictest sense of the terms. I believe that the best strategies need to be employed in order to enable the prosperity and continued well-being of the United States, regardless of their origin.
1) The Days of Entitlement Are Over. Deal With It.
There are a lot of hard-working people in the US that are busting their butts to make sure their families keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. There are also people that, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs due to layoffs, decreases in demand and other factors that have forced their employers to downsize. These folks aren’t looking for a handout — they are looking for another job to sustain themselves and their families. What I am NOT in support of is somewhat along the lines of what Mr. Limbaugh noted: those individuals that are taking advantage of the welfare system and are not motivated to work and make something of themselves. There is a pervasive sense of entitlement that these individuals have and as I have written in the past, the system is terribly, terribly broken.
Along the same lines, it is important that the people re-learn — as our parents (at least in my family) taught us — that nothing is free and nothing is given to you. Welfare, food stamps and other similar programs need drastic overhaul — there is clear misuse and abuse of the system. The unfortunate circumstances that lead to the sub-prime mortgage mess needs to be handled responsibly between the lenders and the owners of those homes. Clearly, many were either misinformed or perhaps willingly misled into mortgages they could not sustain. Those old-school standards need to be readopted, where they check the income, get references and establish clearly that the means of sustainability are there.
Lastly, entitlement also extends to big business. The cap that was established on company executives recently wasn’t complete, in my opinion. Many of these businesses are shareholder or board run. Executive pay should be directly correlated to its performance. It does well, they get paid an agreed upon bonus. If not, they get nothing. It’s as simple as that. I think it is important that free-market capitalism isn’t stifled entirely by government intervention, as with what is going on at Citigroup right now. There has to be a delicate balance where the government may be involved, but on a short-term basis with clearly defined rules. These, unfortunately, are rules that are glaringly absent at the moment and that the Obama administration needs to address post haste.
We are a country of self-imposed excess. We eat too much, drink too much, want more than we can afford and have high expectations for everything. Reality check, folks. It’s done.
2) Bi-Partisanship Doesn’t Exist. Get Over It.
The sooner the Obama administration understands that bi-partisanship doesn’t really exist in its idealistic or even realistic form, the more they will get done. I don’t agree with some of the things that are being passed at the moment. Politicians need to be reminded daily that the money they are putzing around with belongs to the American people. Each and every taxpayer should have a say in how any money is spent. Mr. Limbaugh actually made a good point in his speech in this regard: Americans are not stupid. They are very capable of understanding how their votes can affect the well-being of the nation. The more informed the public becomes, the more empowered they will be. But the question to ask really is, “Is an empowered taxpayer to the benefit or detriment of the average politician?” Hm.
3) Focus On The Immediate Issues; Maintain The Long Term Focus
Is everyone clear about what the immediate issues are? And by immediate, I mean now… not 6 months from now… RIGHT NOW:
— enable banks to remove bad debts from their books to rejuvenate credit flow
— stabilize the GDP decline
— deal with the housing market / mortgage problem
— empower each and every American to pay down their debts and begin the habit of saving
— create jobs
— maintain the safety of the nation
— ensure the quality of education for the country’s youth
Granted, there are many many other things on the very big plate of issues, but people are hurting because they don’t have work. There’s no work because those companies have a decrease in demand. It’s a vicious cycle that will continue to perpetuate without decisive intervention. Equally important and close to my heart is the problem students are facing with financial aid problems. Higher education is getting further out of reach; secondary education suffers equally without adequate resources and a lack of qualified teachers.
4) Let’s Be Realistic: This Hole Is Big — Don’t Cover It Up With Too Much Optimism
No, Mr. Limbaugh, we don’t need fear or negativity. The real reason the stock market is doing so poorly is the lack of confidence. People do not see progress or the light at the end of the tunnel even, when it comes to the overall feeling of the country’s direction. How do you feel when every other thing you hear is a bank failing or that your 401k is down 50%? What are normal folks supposed to think and feel? I do think President Obama has the oratory skills and political savvy to inspire and create confidence in every American (if they are open to it). We do not need optimism for a confidence boost, but realism in the undertaking of what needs to be done to improve the circumstances. The details for action need to be revealed, not generalities. I get that some level of spending will be needed, but truth be told, I’m not hot on the idea of a super-massive budget, bailouts that are still going to institutions that have made little headway in their restructuring plans and a stimulus package that may or may not work.
I shudder to think of debt we are accruing. Here’s the real end result, presuming that the economy will turn around in a reasonable time frame: taxes will go up…. embrace that for a moment.
The level of spending that we are going is simply not sustainable. Something is going to have to give, and we (the taxpayers) will need to start paying it all back. It’s just like that credit card you have with a $5000 limit and you owe $7500. Yup, the exact same thing.
This isn’t really numbered… just some final thoughts. What President Obama is doing is being considered tremendously ambitious. Past Presidents have extended their ambitious agendas to somewhat unpredictable results. One can only hope that the President will be able to come through and have the American people win in the process. The alternative… well, I’d like to say that isn’t an option, but it is a distinct possibility. I’m a realist when it comes to things like this, and each individual has their own personal responsibility to ensure their prosperity. Not everybody is going to have the long-held and traditional “American Dream” (2.5 kids and the white picket fence and all that). Aspirations and goals are what push us forward; it creates the possibility for attaining a higher status in life and greater financial/emotional/mental etc security. Complacency is the haven of destruction — there is simply no room for it.
We should also remember that we are not alone in this. The world at large is going through similar pangs and issues. The USA is not an island unaffected by world events. We must accept our own level of responsibility on the world stage.
I frankly don’t give a damn who is the author or the facilitator of the much needed turnaround. It simply has to happen and it must be a thorough, well thought out implementation.