I apologize in advance for the delay in responding to many reader comments over the past few weeks.  I have not made the time available to get to this task though I have wanted to.

There have recently been three comments to the post “20-40 (Issue 6)  The Economy/Commerce“.  All three were worthy of a response so here goes:

First, thanks, Shirley, for continuing to read and comment.  I appreciate your feedback.

Second, thanks to Sir Burton.   I will put Carrol Quigley’s “Tragedy and Hope” on my list.   Just don’t quiz me on in for quite a while as I am about three books behind and not reading much until I get caught up with business and growing things.

Last a response to JSV.   I must stipulate that JSV is far better read than I on the topic and writes more eloquently.  However, I feel I have a more real world experience.  We also view the issue with eyes separated by 32 years of age, he being half my age.

It is hard to argue with JSV’s point that the real problem is the hierarchial structure of bureaucracies, whether governmental or not. “While I know you’re currently focused on addressing multiple issues prior to the upcoming elections, I suggest that focusing on this issue and its cause would highlight the derivative nature of the other issues on your list as well as the long-term/big-picture irrelevancy of this fall’s elections…” This statement is where our views part ways – not in the truth of it, but in the value of the statement as seen from my view rather than his.

For argument’s sake, let us assume that at 64, I will live another 17.72 years (per government actuary life tables).  Under our current system, assuming no government collapse and relative continuity in form and function of our government, that would include 8 more Congressional elections and 4 more Presidential elections.  For a 32 year old, those same tables say he will live another 45.02 years, or 22 Congressional Elections and 11 for President.  Those elections, in my view, not JSV’s, are opportunities for the voting public to influence the direction of government.

My view, based on my timeline, is that if I am a responsible citizen, my votes will help limit our government.  If I had a timeline of 45 years, I might see (“long-term/big-picture”) bigger possibilities in changing the system as it appears JSV does.  As a hardwired optimist, I believe that the opportunity exists to make meaningful change through the ballot box.  I think that JSV’s argument is that it is not possible to make meaningful change at the ballot box or that it is a charade and nothing will change the forces of what I call the bureaucratic cancer.  I think my experience makes me a bit more pragmatic or, maybe, shortsighted.  I think that in my lifetime, I can still effect things that will make my life (and hopefully most others) better.  That, by the way, is another huge topic we might someday tackle – what makes a life better?

Consider that in the past 17.72 years, political leaders of all stripes have accomplished (voted for and taken credit for actions/laws, etc. that have been major factors in) the following:

1.  The National Debt is up from about $4 Trillion (64% of GDP) to today’s approximately $12.5 Trillion (about 86% of GDP)

2.  In inflation adjusted dollars, our Federal government will spend $3.7 Trillion in 2010 and will have revenue of $2.2 Trillion (that is spending about 168% of earnings).  17.72 years ago, the Federal Government spent $2 Trillion and collected $1.7 (that is 117% of earnings)

3.  In 1992 (17.72 years ago) the USA had just under 22 million people employed in manufacturing and construction and just over 18 million in government employment.  Today there are just over 20 million in construction/manufacturing, and, about 22 million working for government.  Go back 45.02 years and the government employed 12 million and construction/manufacturing 22 million.

If you assume that it would be good to return each of these indicators to the numbers 17.72 years ago or 45.02 years ago, you begin to see my point.  In the next 17+ years it is more practical for me to work to elect people who will make decisions that will make our national debt smaller, will lower Federal Government Spending, and will have fewer people on Government payrolls.

It is also more practical for me because I am directly affected more by government actions than many people are.  If you have a job that is minimally or slowly effected by our government’s actions, like government jobs, service sector jobs, etc.  you don’t see the big swings in your prosperity based on government action.  It is different if you are a farmer or a manufacturer.  For example, new legislation proposed in Congress, if passed, will effectively prohibit wineries/vineyards from selling wines across state lines without going through distributors.  This is great for the distributors (who are lobbying hard to get/keep this monopoly.  It means bankruptcy for hundreds of small wine producers who can’t afford the middlemen.  Who knows?  This may be a good thing in the log run or make no difference in the long run.  But, tell that to the vineyard owner who loses everything he has worked for over a lifetime because of a ‘simple law’ passed by elected officials.

So my reply to JSV’s comment is that his point is a good one but impractical for me and a huge percentage of our population.  I will continue to vote and try to elect people who will work to limit government.

Having said that, you may be very surprised with my next two posts on 20-40 – Energy and 20-40 Crime and Punishment.