Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Do you truly believe what you say you believe?

Today a new day dawned...and the 112th Congress came into session.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the Speaker of the House gavel in hand today to lead a newly elected Republican majority House. He pledges to cut spending, reduce the size of the federal government, and cut taxes.

Wait....haven't we been here before?

Promises come as easy and frequent as special interest campaign contributions in Washington. In little more than 2 years, the American public has been pumped up with vows of change from this side then promises of a new way from over there. I can't help but see a mental image of Newton's Cradle sitting on a desk somewhere with the end balls in the set of five swapping turns to swing out as the kinetic energy transfers from side to side. The whole matter is annoying, frustrating, tiresome yet vaguely entertaining all at the same time.

As Bob Dylan belted out Times They Are a-Changin'  in 1964, he couldn't have been more right. Again in 1980, American politics went through a transformation as Ronald Wilson Reagan was swept into the White House along with a Republican-led Senate, the first such party led chamber of Congress since 1953.

But since those Reagan glory days, the American public has heard a lot of rhetoric, and not seen very many results. What we have witnessed is the morphing of the federal government into a grotesquely obese entity that must be continuously fed with more and more substances stripped from the citizens it supposedly serves. Time, property, money and liberties all forcefully taken from citizens behind laws of Congress to sustain a house of cards so big that collapse in not only likely...but imminent. 

Then came the great revolution of change in 2008 which was quickly squelched by the reformation on the revolution in 2010.  Click, click, click, click, click....the balls swing out and back...side to side.

Americans know what needs to be done. The bigger issue or questions is do they have the stomach for seeing it through? Federal entitlements are simply out of control. Both political parties blame each other while continuing to grow their own projects with more and more borrowed money. Most people don't even realize when they personally benefit from a federal program, and there is where the problem starts.

A good friend of mine often uses the title phrase applied to Biblical principles when teaching a class at church or even a during a theological discussion among friends. The question, if taken seriously, should be one that every individual reflects upon before, during and follow conversation about any given topic. Do you actually believe the things you feel and say, and more importantly, are you ready to put words to action?

Back to today. Republicans in Congress, under pressure to reform from the Tea Party movement, have drawn a necessary, albeit dangerous, line in the sand. A smaller government, less spending, reduced deficits and taxes simultaneously. All happening while the world's largest economy putters along in a flat recovery. The question for them is do they have the intestinal fortitude to make it happen? Is the American public ready to sacrifice to get where most of us want to be without making the instrument of true change through tough decisions the scapegoat or whipping post?

Don't be fooled by the political double speak around cutting waste and abuse. That won't get it done. We need fundamental change and every single federal government program needs to be on the table for debate...including defense spending, Social Security and Medicare. That's right...nothing should be left exempt if this is going to get done. Most people don't realize the 2010 federal budget just addressed current expenditures to meet service needs. No bailout money is included in that budget because that money was an expenditure in the 2009 budget.

So what are you willing to sacrifice? If Congress does this right, you'll give up something  I assure you. I work for a DoD contractor and expect to see changes at work. If you are crying for changes in the categories being promised by our newly elected officials...then it's gut-check time people.

I have strong opinions, as I'm sure you do, that if brought to fruition would impact my own family. I'm in the last year of the baby boomer generation, and we're getting old. As a matter of fact, the front end of my demographic is turning 65 this very year! Tough decisions are ahead if Social Security and Medicare are going to survive the enormous payout coming over the next two decades. I want those necessary changes for the benefit of my children and their children.

Our tax code is beyond absurd and needs to be completely scuttled and rebuilt. Flat tax? I think we need one or a viable alternative. The nearly 4 million word tax code of this country begs people to find ways to get out of paying taxes. If I know going into a year exactly how much in taxes I'm paying (as opposed to guesses and wishes), household budgeting becomes a lot easier. Besides, I don't need the IRS to manage my vacation fund each least when I'm due a refund.

We've got to get back to being a country that manufactures. We are slowly sliding down from the top rung of the ladder as the Big Kahunas in the economic world. Why? Because we don't make great stuff like we once did in this country. Throw that quality over quantity garbage right out the proverbial window too. There was a time not so long ago we produced both quality and quantity in this country, and we need we better...get back there!

The balls in play as of today members of Congress. Let's see who has the true grit to do what must be done, and don't try to distract us with the Health Care Bill recant. There are much bigger, more important issues to tackle first. You've got two years Washington...and the clock started countdown today.


Michelle said...

Oh dear, TONY, you know I'm not political...but since you mentioned it
...the very things that have been on our mind. If they don't fix this...we're screwed. Nate and I just said the other day we hope, hope, HOPE things get worse for a little while because it is the only way it can get better. We really forsee the next couple of years getting bad

But then, we get into the whole fact that when people lose their entitlements they're going to start getting nuts. (Excuse me, get nuttier.)People want a free ride and it has come at a great cost.

You know how extreme we are...we see hyperinflation by the end of this year...we see a total collapse of the way of living as we know it. We see a country full of people that need to get their heads out of the sand...or Jersey Shore...whichever it may be. People are BLIND! It is in the papers EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. The signs are here and no one...not the government and not the individuals are making the changes they need to prepare.

But then again...I'm a conspiracy theorist by nature. :)

David said...

Well done, Tony.

Taxes are an interesting issue. There is the Flat Tax and the Fair tax and of course the burdensome system that we currently have.

The Flat Tax (everyone pays the same percentage, no deductions) works for everyone making money. What about other income sources, SSI, dividends, and the like? I still put the burden on the workers (who it is already on) if we are not careful.

The Fair Tax (is a sales tax), and it impacts those that spend money. It is an incentive to not spend, and to save. But for a country and an economy that thrives on credit, it could have a big impact. It is also tough on those that are on fixed incomes - but hey, what system isn't? The problem is seniors have already paid in their taxes,and would be taxed again.

The current system, is crazy as you have pointed out. If it got really simple, it would be much better. It can be used to control what we spend money on. Tax breaks for fuel efficient autos, increased taxes on alcohol and cigarettes - all that is actually good.

I think it would be great if the government could get back to national defense, and infrastructure. They could leave all the other regulations to the state. Then the states could compete with each other instead on contending for Federal tax dollars. Competition is good. You want Health Care, move to Massachusetts, they have mandatory HC. The same is true for Gay marriage and snow; they have both.

The best plan is a blend. A Federal sales tax is good for guys that buy big ticket items. A flat tax with no deductions is good for everyone - just pay your part. no IRS, I like that. Then they can fire the 16,000 new workers that are just for the Health Care part. And finally, we need t have some incentives. The problem is that grants are welfare for the educated, welfare is for the poor, and subsidies are corporate welfare. Everyone has their hand out.

I propose, a 10% flat tax, a 3% sales tax (excluding, medicine, food and clothes) and rebates for items that help the general public.

Toss all the entitlement programs of every kind. Let the states tax for the programs they want to have and compete - that what a republic is all about.

Let's get SSI in it's own fund. And do the same with MediCaid.

Just a few thoughts. ;)

Chris Denning said...

Great post. You're right that we have to change some basic assumptions. Number one, why do we retire at the expense of our employer or neighbor? Why should we stop working when we reach a certain age if we are healthy and of sound mind? If you had foresight and discipline to save or invest for the future, fine, but if not, let he who steals steal no longer but rather work with his hands so he has something to share with others. Number two, why should someone else pay for my routine trip to the doctor or the medicine for my child's cold, or any minor or elective surgery? If you can go to Disneyland you can forgo that and pay for your own medical care instead. And if you can take out a loan for a new car or buy the latest technological device, you can even afford more expensive care. And finally, why should I pay for someone's education who doesn't care a thing about it while I educate my children on my own dime? We are overburdened with taxes because we have taken on responsibilities that are not appropriate and even immoral. We can only turn this nation around when we acknowledge that fact and live by it. It will take a nation turning back to God. May He turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous!

Keith said...

Well said Tony.

The current tax system is broken beyond repair. While a flat tax has some real appeal, I like the idea of consumption-based tax better. The more you consume, the more you pay.

Change, even simple change, is extraordinarily hard. Even more so when personal sacrifice is required. The necessary change rarely happens before a crisis makes the change mandatory. It is the special leader that can convince us to change ahead of the crisis.

I miss Ron Reagan