Letter to the Editor

Wake up Americans!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My baby-boom age group came of age politically in response to our new president's famous 1960 inaugural address challenge, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!" How badly our country needs a leader today who can muster public support for the same principle and have the courage to fight for needed legislative actions to get our country back on a track of economic stability. Instead, what we have in place today is a group of power-driven, long-tenured, hypocritical national leaders pushing misguided fiscal and regulatory programs that better befit the Gordon Gekko quote, "Greed is good;" benefiting the few, not the majority.

The American Dream was not founded on this greed concept and cannot be sustained following it. If we, the American public, don't wake up and force politicians to realize we understand keeping America strong requires shared sacrifice we all are willing to make, then we deserve to see our standard of living spiral downward, driven by factors dictated by others.

Over the past several weeks we have seen an election portrayed as Americans wanting a change in direction, but voting to return the same old political leaders to power who established failed policies of the past. We have seen a presidential debt commission issue a report of suggested reforms to get our mushrooming debt under control only to be rebuked by leaders of both political parties. We have seen anemic economic activity and continued high unemployment. We have seen huge bonuses again paid out by Wall Street firms recently bailed out with tax payer dollars (debt).

And now we see a compromise tax bill, demanded by the very Republicans just elected on a platform of debt reduction, going to Congress that maintains an unsustainable deficit level! When do we stop this madness? It's unconscionable we'd consider making any tax cuts permanent in today's fiscal environment. Given current trends, it is projected our federal debt will equal our entire GDP output by year 2015!

Sanity and common sense have to be brought back to the actions in Washington. Tax cuts without corresponding spending cuts do not equate to job creation; only ballooning budget deficits. Businesses don't come into existence because of tax rates; they evolve from ideas that create desired products or services.

Wars cannot be fought without funding and sacrifice; if not, the general public pays little attention to them. A weak dollar value only benefits international corporate exports/profits; it's a tax on American consumers. At present, we have no foreseeable way to pay the unfunded $55-60 trillion future social programs (social security/Medicare/prescription drug benefit) commitments; these program benefits are going to have to be amended. History has shown great civilizations fall when the vast majority of income and wealth are controlled by 3 percent of the population or less; our tax system has put America at 5 percent or less. Wall Street cannot continue to operate as a casino instead of a business capital source; the latest financial reform bill does nothing to change this.

We have heard politicians in the last several elections claim the budget deficits can be addressed by cuts in domestic spending and earmarks; if all domestic and discretionary spending were removed from the 2010 budget, we'd still have a $750 billion deficit! These people need to get real. Defense and social programs can no longer be "budget sacred cows."

We all believe American democracy and the American capitalistic system has been the world's social and economic model for decades. But strict laissez faire capitalism with no regulation or social conscience will bankrupt itself. Clearly, we cannot continue the fiscal course we are on, but it won't change unless all of us get better informed and involved.

Each of us must establish direct communication with our congressional representative and senators and consistently express our views. And, foremost, relative to the senate, insist that its rules be changed so a majority again rules. With a 60-vote requirement now in place to even bring a bill up for debate has relegated this chamber totally ineffective and in the pocket of minority interests on every issue. We need to wake up before it's too late. Our immediate economic well-being and particularly that of our children, grandchildren and future generations depend upon it!

Terry B. Yarns

Spirit Lake