Posted on January 2, 2009
Hundreds of millions Americans greeted the New Year with relief that 2008 was over, anticipation of a brighter 2009, and a list of New Years resolutions about how they were going to live better lives in the coming weeks and months.
I bet you balance was high on the list of many Americans.
More balance between work and family.
More balance between food and exercise.
More balance between spending and earning.
The Christmas season was miserable chiefly because of the last promise, which started early for most shoppers.
I doubt if the federal government will get the message.
In fact, if the average American family is in trouble with their own private credit crisis, that crisis pales in comparison with the federal government (unless, of course, you include mortgage debt).
As American families (counseled by countless financial advisors) trim their spending sails, the American government is going in the absolutely different direction.
The Democratic Congress is getting ready to open the government’s wallet for one of the biggest spending sprees in the nation’s history.
Ironies abound in this current predicament in which we find ourselves.
It is better for the national economy if consumers start really spending (or so the theory goes). But it is bad for each individual’s personal financial situation if they follow that path.
It is good for the national economy if the government starts really spending (or so the theory goes). But if we don’t come to grips with our national debt, we face bankruptcy or out-of-control inflation.
The fact of the matter is that wasteful, useless spending is bad for the people, bad for the long-term impact of the economy, bad for the government, and bad for our nation’s future.
Spending that sets us up for a brighter future, on the other hand, could be useful. Investing in a smarter power grid, in broadband and wi-fi, in better medical technology, is smart.
Spending on local Halls of Fame, on bridges to nowhere, on studies of the sexual habits of the hairy spider, and on any Post Office named for any member of Congress ever, is stupid.
Balance is the key word here. We have to balance spending now with our future needs. Like each family that has to make sacrifices for the future (cable television is sacrificed to pay for school books, for example), the government has to start making some hard choices.
Right now, I don’t see any appetite for hard choices by this Congress.
Their idea of balance is keep spending and assume tax increases somewhere down the line.
But that is not balance. That is typical Democratic tax and spend philosophy.
As each American family makes a choice towards more balance, I hope our new President gets the message.