2013 seems to find the earth alive and well after the United States narrowly dodged a bullet and did not fall off the Fiscal Cliff. Most Americans hardly noticed. About that same point in time the American agenda was to have fun, welcome in 2013 while wearing pointed hats and tooting paper horns to welcome in the New Year. It’s truly hard to change course, suck it up, and to think about becoming fiscal prudes when for the past several years presidents of every political bent have borrowed and spent us into a place of no return. They promised us the moon, and they borrowed and spent to get it for us and all we ever dreamed of. Yet perched on the precipice of the dreaded Fiscal Cliff we were left nonplussed. And what was there to fear? We knew our politicians would snatch us from the jaws of financial oblivion and having to pay the piper for all the stuff Uncle Sam promised us and gave us.
“Let the good times roll.” was the creed we all lived by no matter who occupied the White House or the halls of Congress for the past 30 years. We had no time care much about the earth we are polluting and the trillions of dollars we are spending to make it all happen. See, we have become a nation who truly believes in the short term and that “the end justifies the means.” We might just be the first generation of Americans that believes that looking out for our posterity or the future is a vagary that does not exist and perhaps never will. So we live for the day. And each and every politician sells us on the idea to relax, enjoy the tax cuts and forgets to tell us about paying the piper down the road. But some of these fiscally battered chickens are coming home to roost.
We got to take home more out of every paycheck for a while, except now we are about to hit a bump in the fiscal road. That’s right. Social Security deductions from paychecks is going to cost us 2% more as the total deduction shoots up from 4.2% to 6.2%. Surprise, surprise. So a person earning $50 K per year will pay into the Social Security fantasy lock box an additional one grand. Say bye-bye to an additional thousand bucks as it sprouts wings and flies on its one-way trip to Washington, D.C., never to return. Swell. What other pangs are we to experience? Hard to tell. There are more hard and sharp things, fiscal and federal, about to attack the pocketbooks of all Americans I fear.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that paying taxes is a good thing. It is a sign that a person is making money if he or she gets taxed by the government. Taxes create many good things, e.g., the finest military in the world that protects not only us but many other countries that need protecting. Philosophically, if every American pays according to his ability, taxing income is fair. But do they pay according to their ability? No. A quick look at Romney’s offshore banking accounts and his 15% capital gains on most all his income is telling. Capital gains rates rather than the earned income much higher rate is good stuff if you can get it. Not everyone can. But those who can will be able to save over half the normal taxes most Americans have to pay. Point is these fiscal monster chickens about to come home to roost hit the working man and woman when times are already rough as a cob due to the nice little uptick we saw in 2012 on food prices. Gasoline. Property taxes. State and City taxes. You know the drill. Yet Romney could care less about the increase in his Social Security deductions. Neither could Bill Clinton. So who is government really for? The wealthier Americans or the common working man? We will attempt to answer that hot potato question in a minute or two.
Philosophically is a good word; to me its very sound soothes the breathing and settles the soul for some needed reflection and maybe some rejuvenation of the spirit, it portends. Dr. M. Scott Peck, famous author of The Road Less Traveled said that he posed the following question to most of his patients in counseling sessions: “How do you eat a piece of cake?” See, if you responded with you eat the icing first, it suggests that you want instant gratification. And then you are left with maybe some cake and crumbs. Most all politicians in the past 30 years have promised us the moon and have told us nobody had to pay for it or suffer. But it seems to me that for every time you eat the icing first, you get stuck with the bitter pill of recovering from your fiddling grasshopper ways. Seems like you are always playing catch up. All the borrowing and spending for anything whatsoever was not worth it. And the United States, no matter who tried to justify borrowing and spending our futures away for whatever evil empire existed in the minds of some at the time has suffered. We are now facing rough waters where America will be a strange sailor with a busted sextant. We have become irresponsible fiscal idiots whose accounting practices would rival all of Anderson Accounting’s cooked books in the days of Enron and Ken Lay.
We do not know what evils Quantitative Easing is about to cause in the world. In all good faith and fiscal sanity how can we issue trillions of dollars of new bonds a year, pay the billions in interest, and if there is a shortfall of money we need to borrow, well just call Ben Bernanke. Get Ben to buy the billions of dollars of government bonds necessary to pay all our government costs. If Japan and China don’t want to lend us more money by buying our Treasury Bonds, then by God the Fed will. Does that seem to leave anybody speechless, besides me? But how can we refuse to cover the debt we owe even if the accounting is bogus and bastard? How can we not bite the bullet and save the nation from shutting down and going bankrupt?
Guess maybe we all got distracted by Apple’s latest Mini I Pad or the NFL playoffs. America’s $16 trillion National Debt (and counting) doesn’t seem to faze those of the “Let the good times roll” mentality that has become the norm here in America. After all, you ain’t going to live forever, right? And maybe we will all be dead and gone by the time the sh-- hits the fan, you think? And the early January dodge of the Fiscal Cliff is the beginning, I fear, of a long series of belt tightening’s in store for us common folk whose resources wane pale when compared to most politicians living in D.C. as we speak.
So what happened to us? Is this crossroads of fiscal uncertainty one we created? Like did we fall asleep at the switch? Like when Uncle Sam started buying hammers for $500 apiece? Even after President Ike warned us about the evils of the Military Industrial Complex being hooked up with government? Or was it the politicians we elected as government servants to do the right thing by the millions of us American taxpayers? Are they to blame?
“What kind of government did you give us, Ben?” asked a lady at the close of the Continental Congress that drew up the plans for our type of government. “A Republic, ma’am, if you can keep it.” A government of the people, by the people, and for the people. A democracy if you will. Yet many were skeptical about a democracy form of government from John Adams to James Madison.
Samuel Adams said of a democracy form of government – “… it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds …” Can anyone say, “Fox News?” You know, the fair and balanced network owned and operated by Rupert Murdock? Or the one-man band Rush Limbaugh of the Excellence in Broadcasting Network? Funny how good adjectives get attached to such sluggards.
So were we sucked in by the propaganda, the circus and bread of our day like sports and television broadcasts? Instead of doing our homework and researching the voting records of any given politician, did we pull the lever for him because he dressed well or had a good haircut or a swagger to his step?
Did our elected politicians lie to us just to get elected? Just where did they get off borrowing us into outer space without any hope of rescue or
return? Is our form of government just a naturally decaying one due to corruption and greed of those who have the power by getting elected to high office? Once there did they forget their promises to us that they needed to keep? Just because they could get away with it? I think so and then some.
So who is government for? Looks like it exists for itself. And its own devices, e.g., taxing the people, promising us the moon, then financially marooning us on some distant and hostile planet. Then putting our people-funded programs under the scalpel. The Founding Fathers when constructing our form of government at that fateful Continental Convention foresaw problems with democratic form of government and mob rule of the masses. But more important, in constructing our system of government as a republic, to insure against mob rule, they forgot something. That elected representatives were cut of the same cloth as the common mob posing as a democracy. First they were Homo sapiens, too, and were just as corruptible as any member of the common mob. Though the Founding Fathers hoped and wished that a Republic form of government would work best, it was only on the faith that honest men and women would occupy those elected seats to represent the rest of us. And it appears that their borrowing and spending us all into oblivion was intentional. And proof of the pudding. It benefitted them at the ballot box by promising money we did not have to spend. It benefitted them by taking huge sums from lobbyists who represent big money, e.g., Big Oil, Big Pharma, the power merchants who can pay for the best government money can buy. So who is government for? First the money that buys them favors and campaign donations. Second, themselves and getting reelected. And if there is any left over, then perhaps they will throw the people a bone. I got to admit that I feel like a deer in the headlights when I ponder the role of government in our lives. I still don’t know what it is for when it comes to serving the people. We have lost too much ground to the money interests who are not dedicated to serving the people.
Some of the choice warnings about democracy from some of the founding fathers can be digested in the following link: Curious takes on man, a democracy, and a republic form of government.