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Abler-Minded: Cliffhanging

The political theater we are witnessing is almost worthy of a Shakespeare play. When you think about it, the seeds of this farcical tragedy — or tragic farce, if you will — have been sown for decades by politicians of both parties in the legislative and executive branches of our national government.

There are those who contend we simply have a revenue problem and that raising taxes on certain segments of our taxpayers will restore our economy and create nirvana once again.

Others contend that once we cut spending to match our revenue, the deficit and debt will both magically evaporate as items of deep concern.

As with all simplistic solutions, these answers appear as attractive as they are wrong.

On the other hand, the way we got into the mess in which we find ourselves is simple and completely obvious, especially to those of us who balance a checkbook or run a household budget. We understand that you cannot continually spend more money than you receive in income. If you do continually spend more money than your income, you’re going to run your credit card debt to the point that it is unsustainable.

Our current spending spree where we have to finance (borrow close to 40 percent of the funds from foreign sources or our citizens) the expenditures are past the unsustainable point.

In short, we’ve reached the cliff. But the cliff is being presented to us as a point where automatic tax increases and spending cuts are going to take effect. And both of those measures are being presented to us as undesirable, even catastrophic.

But why is it that most fifth-graders would be able to tell us that’s exactly what it’s going to take to start us on the road that goes away from the real cliff?

While some of the economic policies during the Bush years — especially the large deficits — had a part in the resulting recession, the Democrats who were in control of Congress for half of the Bush years share a great deal of responsibility for the mortgage shipwreck.

And if you take an unbiased look at the economic policies since President Obama took office, how can you come to any conclusion other than there has been a deliberate goal of allowing the U.S. debt to grow to the point that draconian measures would be required to address the deficits and debt? Or has guaranteed bankruptcy to achieve someone’s vision of social justice become sound national economic policy?

This brings us to the cliff and the question of what to do about it. Do we continue to spend for non-productive social programs without regard to our income? That is undoubtedly the Democrat plan, because their base will not allow them to do otherwise. The re-election was partly the result of the voters who received government assistance who wanted to continue feeding at the trough. It doesn’t help when critics of the welfare state are routinely labeled as racists, bigots, sexists and so on.

The government has not, and will not, make any effective effort to differentiate between those who are truly needy and deserving of assistance, and those who are milking the system for everything they can get. And this happens in Medicare, food stamps, basic welfare, unemployment, Social Security and any other government give-away you care to mention.

Or do we just raise taxes on those who have “benefitted unfairly?” The re-election was also fueled by a successful campaign to create an atmosphere of class envy. While there are undoubtedly members of the upper echelons of the economic spectrum who can be properly labeled as greedy, there are many more (see the previous paragraph) who are taking money and benefits they really don’t need or for which they aren’t really legally qualified. And government greed that is the result of gross fiscal mismanagement is still greed in the final analysis.

The greatest disappointment I have in this class-warfare mess is the successful inclusion by the Democrats propagandists of many small-business owners and entrepreneurs under the label of rich or wealthy. Anyone who knows a small-business owner should also know that many of these people work from 60 to 100 or more hours per week in order to make their businesses a success. And their reward for success is to be excoriated as greedy and included under the same umbrella as multi-millionaires and billionaires.

Isn’t this a great country where we penalize the job producers even though we’re drowning in unemployment?

The economic engine of the United States relies on investment capital. People with extra money invest. Pension funds invest. Banks and insurance companies invest. Some people sacrifice and scrape together money to invest. Investments provide the capital to expand the economy, except they are now more of a target for government revenue hogs than ever before. The revenue hogs are reportedly looking at 401k’s and IRA’s as sources to fund Social Security because only the “wealthy” have those.

I know the administration’s true definition of wealthy is, “anyone who has a dollar that we want to confiscate and spend.”

The path away from the cliff is simple. Spend only for actual needs and forget about pet whims and counter-productive social engineering; implement a tax system that produces the revenue to fund the needs; and let the people and the market develop the business structure.

All we need are some true statesmen/stateswomen in the political parties to make this happen. You won’t get very good odds in Las Vegas on that proposition.

In the meantime, I believe it would be better to go over the cliff because there’s far more chance of meaningful change once we hit bottom than to see what the current or incoming group of legislators is going to pull out of the hat.

Well, that’s what’s been on my mind.