A Stalled Ship of State
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— Such economic times. There were recessions in our time but nothing that lasted this long. It started with the real estate crash in 2008, but this great ship of state is still in irons.
The fault-finding frenzy has passed and seldom do we hear casting blame on earlier administrations that was once so fashionable. It seems senseless laying blame on either political party when politicians on both sides of the aisle have flagrantly ignored basic economic principles that require passing annual budgets and sticking to them.
The flaw in democracy is politicians make irresponsible promises in order to win elections and voters elect them. With a debt nearing $16 trillion, surely one principle every citizen should realize by now is that there really is no such thing as free lunch.
Few citizens are happy with the nation’s sudden enormous debt. Maybe there are a few staunch, dogmatized party-faithful in both parties who continue to support disastrous deficit spending. But mighty few. The last 10 years of Bush-Obama have sadly proven that neither party can stay on budget. Their mutual irresponsibility is taking our ship down.
We all have specific complaints but I want politicians to balance a budget without taxing small businesses and entrepreneurs to the point it stops job creation, which is what is happening now. I want Medicare and Social Security, the giant government programs of yesteryear that hard working Americans contributed to for many decades, be finally made solvent BEFORE any additional programs are added to public debt.
Wishing politicians would act responsibly is a pipe dream in today’s world. All we can do is stand by, I with an occasional bout of the pen, and watch the muddle worsen.
What a royal mess politicians have made of things. Botched leadership from both parties has created an economy where we can’t sell our homes even if we wanted to. Nor are our homes worth what they once were, even as local property taxes soar.
Then, unemployment has left almost every family with someone out of work with very little hopes of being hired. Inflation has hit every bank account. The dollars we worked so hard to earn no longer buy as much at the gas pumps or the grocery stores, and money saved for retirement barely pays interest. With the global economy on tenterhooks, and the dollar so threatened by a jittery Euro, do we even dare hope public or private pensions we once believed in are going to take care of future needs?
All have suffered. No matter who you are or what you do, whether you own a business and want to keep staff employed, once worked but lost your job and can’t find another, worked and saved for retirement but now find you don’t have enough money to meet expenses, have a job but haven’t had a raise in years, or are unemployed and depend on government to meet expenses, or a combination of the above—no one has escaped hard times.
Are there answers to staggering debt, unemployment and stalled business? What can be done to pull this great ship off the shoals? The major issues are turning our economy around, firing up small business (which is mainly operating dead in the water) that will create jobs and, finally, getting some control on government spending, waste and paying down the staggering debt.
Republicans stand for lower taxes. They tell us lowering corporate tax rates would encourage corporations that left the U.S. in droves to return with jobs that are so desperately needed here, and lowering payroll taxes on small business would encourage business expansion and new jobs. They tell us lower taxes would motivate more citizens to start new businesses, which would spark more tax revenues for government. Finally, lower taxes would enable more people to spend once again, which would then stimulate more business.
Yet, Democrats urge even more government growth, regulation and higher taxes. But if business is already slumped from over taxation and regulation, how would more of the same help? Or, should the private sector just give up and let government take over all responsibility for delivering materials and services, guaranteeing jobs, and taking care of the needs of the people?
I call this recession an unending goose chase. Government, at all levels, keeps expanding and demanding more tax revenues to cover costs. The more taxes the private sector pays, the less money there is for small business expansion and jobs. The fewer jobs, the higher the unemployment and the more government assistance is needed to care for the jobless.
The problems in moving this great ship off the rocks are enormous and complex. We need business brains to get our good ship sailing again . . . and an electorate that finally understands continued deficit spending will eventually sink our beloved ship of state.