Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another Depression

I’m starting to wonder if what the country needs isn’t another Great Depression. Of course we’ll have to think of something else to call it. After all, the “Great Depression” was just that, the Great Depression. Maybe the “New Depression”. This may sound odd, but think of it. They say that an addict can’t begin to recover until they reach rock bottom and admit that they have a problem that they are unable to solve without help. Are we there yet? as a nation? I wonder.

We are, as a nation, addicted to consumerism and to credit, which we used to call debt, but which we renamed “credit” because it sounded better than debt. Our whole lives seem to be based on buying things we don’t need.... at any expense. The average household carries over $8,000 in credit card debt, and has $18,000 in non-mortgage debt, up from $11,000 a decade ago. And what do we have to show for it? Not much besides a pocket full of gadgets: Flat screen TVs in our home theaters; communication devices of every kind; games that keep us from paying attention to one another; cars that are bigger and newer than they need to be; and homes that are bigger and nicer than we can afford to live in. And we are facilitated in our addiction by our elected officials. One group wants to provide us with everything that we “deserve” without regard to whether or not we can afford it, and the other (not to be out done) goes along with the scheme so as not to seem uncaring.

The foundation of our government provides for none of this. We are promised our lives, our liberty and the right to pursue happiness. We are not promised the right to live in a house that is beyond our means, or to drive a new car instead of one that we can afford.

Somewhere at the beginning of the “new age” someone coined the phrase “you deserve it because you’re a good person” and it stuck like a tick. Retailers picked up on consumers urge to splurge on themselves now without those pesky thoughts about tomorrow. “No money down and no payments until.......”. And just when we were intoxicated by our own over indulgence our legislators put their arms around us like a drunken frat boy up to no good (to help us along). They help us by spending money that they know we don’t have, with the knowledge and without care that our children, and our children’s children will have to repay, and then every two, four, or six years they remind us of what good friends they’ve been and will continue to be and ask us to let them help us some more.

Well my friends, I don’t know if it’s the rock bottom or not, but I see something hard coming up pretty quick and if we don’t shake it off and slap some sense into our elected officials I see hard times ahead.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Leaders or Servants

It’s past time that we (as a nation) took a look at our elected officials and the roll that they play in our lives. You will often hear of how Senator “Jones” has spent a life time as a public servant or some politician admonishing some other group of politicians that they should start showing leadership. These two terms: public servant and leader deserve some examination. From universal experience we all know what a servant is. It’s someone who is paid to do the bidding of the person that pays his or her salary. We also have universal knowledge of what a leader is. Webster defines leader as a person who guides. When you’re young and in the Scouts there were adult troop leaders who were in charge. They guide. They make suggestions, but ultimately they decide. Later on in life you may have military leaders. Their job is not to suggest, or to guide. Their job is to analyze a situation and to order an action.

But we are a nation of civilians living in a democratic republic. Do we need to hire leaders to decide for us what we should do, or do we need to hire servants who will do what we decide? This is the question that needs to be asked. We’ve hired leaders in the past, but the job was always rather narrow. The example that comes to mind is that of the wagon master. As pioneer families we hired these “leaders”, but only to take us to a place of our choosing, where we wanted to go. They didn’t decide where we would go, only the easiest way to get there.

The men who hammered out the Constitution one compromise at a time were servants sent by the various states to do just that. They did not lead. They did not decide. When they had finished their work the document was put to the populace. We decided. We chose. There were news paper articles and pamphlets published to educate the public. A debate was had and we chose.

Now, it seems that the ranks of our elected officials are peopled my men and women who see themselves as our leaders and not our servants. The business of the government has become so complex that we can hardly decide every issue, and so we hire these people to represent us, to do our bidding. But now the government is crowded with people who want to “fundamentally transform” our nation in the interest of what they call “social justice”, “being on the right side of history”, and “doing the right thing”. These things all sound fine. Who can be against “doing the right thing”? But an argument can be made that fealty to the Constitution is the “right thing”, the safe thing, and that the lack of that loyalty is what got us into this mess in the first place. Our elected officials have, for the last hundred years or so, curried our favor and bought our votes by providing us with “free money” and services from the federal treasury. And for our part, we have turned a blind eye to the source of our wind fall. This relationship has led us to our present situation where politicians have taken money from this fund or that to pay for our votes, and used accounting tricks to steal from the very fund that they created to protect us in our older years. We are forced to carefully analyze every sentence to try to separate the truth from half truth and outright lies.

These men and women have turned their backs on their oaths to support, defend and bear true allegiance to the Constitution and have taken it upon themselves to decide what is best for the citizens of a nation whose ancestors paid so dearly for the right to chose for themselves.

It’s time for us to pay closer attention to who we hire and where we leave our wallets.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.