When you borrow, at some point in the future, you have to pay back or return whatever was borrowed. Among the most significant reasons for our current economic mallaise is the fact that many people do not concern themselves with this fundamental principal. Normal citizens sometimes put too much on their charge cards and end up in a position where they have to sacrifice something in order to pay off their debt. In the past decade, many people bought houses that they could not afford but they hoped that a combination of inflation in values and ever increasing wages would make this minor problem go away. Politicians have made decisions to offer pay and benefits to government employees that they could not sustain or support with current revenues. They offered an ever-increasing number of social programs that bought them votes but which helped break the budget. Very few of our elected officials stood up to reality and made due within their budgets. The result? Today we have a National debt that is equal to our Gross Domestic Product, but, the debt is growing and the GDP is not.
One of the biggest factors in a strong and stable currency is faith in and respect for the government that stands behind that currency. When we consistently prove to the world that we are not responsible with our money and continue to build up debt, we will suffer loss of respect and loss of the value of our currency. If we are to avoid economic and government collapse, we need politicians who have the nerve to live within budgets. If you want to read a sobering , but I think very accurate discussion of where our economy is going, please read this. One graph in the article I think is worth reproducing here (actually many are, but you can get that by reading the article):
Let’s try a simple exercise. You are a homeowner, a mom, and a commissioned sales person. Your income varies because of the nature of sales and the commissions generated by those sales. In good months, you can make $10,000 but some months you barely make $2,000. Because of this, you budget for a low average income of $3,500 per month. Along with your husband’s steady salary at the auto parts factory in your town of $3,000, you have a comfortable and stable situation. You are consistently able to pay your taxes, pay your mortgage, pay your utilities, keep your old car running, and feed and clothe your family. In good months, you put away money for things you really want, but, don’t need. Vacations, a new car, a new patio in the back yard, the kids college fund are all things for which the savings may go. You don’t need any of these things but most of the family agrees that many of these things are worthy of the sacrifice needed to save for them. In spite of intense pressure from your teen-aged son, you have no plans to spend any of the savings on a car for him when he turns 16. If he wants a car, he can earn it himself. Sure, lots of other kids will get cars when they turn 16 but that doesn’t make it a responsible choice for you. Your responsibility is to provide for your family’s needs, not cater to their wants.
I think that is what our elected officials should be doing: providing for our needs, not our wants.
Please take the time to watch an elected leader doing the right thing. It is Governor Chris Christie speaking to his Legislature less than two months after taking office. If most of our elected leaders had the guts and the principles of this man, we would have few of the serious financial uncertainties that we face today.
It is refreshing and a hopeful sign to see a leader facing the problem and taking responsibility. If other State leaders and the country’s leadership in Washington, D.C. could do the same, we would be a long way toward being healed. I would vote for a leader like this in a minute. Unfortunately, our leadership seems focused on finding new sources of revenue and selling more debt to the rest of the world. How long will the world view both our government as Responsible and our currency as Reliable with leaders continuing to spend money that they do not have?
For my money, the position that must be taken by a candidate for whom I will vote is one of thrift, living within our means.