When I listen to high-ranking individuals talk about the economy, I wonder where they have been or how they developed their viewpoint. I also wonder how they look at their own budgets, if they have such little understanding about money and how best to use it. I suspect the bottom line is that the money they throw at possible problems is not their money.
Our country is unlike any other in that the ability of becoming unbelievably rich remains viable. Contrary to what far too many profess, hard work and innovation pay great dividends in this country. The greatest percentage of the rich in this country became rich because of the work that they did. They created a product or program that a huge number of people wanted and were willing to pay for it.
The richest group of people in this country are the senior citizens. Most of them never made a huge salary, but they always saved and did not spend on objects that they could not afford. They lived on their income and avoided going into debt except to buy a home. Their cars were for transportation and not show. In most cases, the wife cooked and stayed at home to raise the children. Among members of the latest group of senior citizens, many of the women worked. But other characteristics of the middle class remain largely true. Their parents or older siblings showed the way.
Schools taught the basics of economics and early television programs depicted people living within their means. Some might say those portrayals were not accurate, but the approach worked. I understand there is a percentage of senior citizens who truly need assistance, but it is a small percentage. Unfortunately, some aspects of the media attempt to portray senior citizens as a whole who are nearly destitute. That is utterly false.
Our government has grown well beyond what is necessary to effectively operate. There is a proposal now to double the federal tax on gasoline. The congressman proposing this says it is needed to improve highways and bridges. That increase will bring in an additional $20 billion. When one looks at the amount of taxes that already are collected such as gas taxes, taxes on oil companies, tolls, state and local taxes, it amounts to well more than $100 billion. Where has that money gone?
When we look at various welfare benefits, we learn they are controlled by federal agencies with absolutely no coordination among them. Trying to reduce this piggy bank is nearly impossible because so many agencies are involved and are unwilling to reduce their expenditures.
The typical American family understands economics. The head of the household knows that spending more money than one earns will cause significant difficulties in the future. Unexpected expenses such as the air-conditioning dying demands that expenses in other areas be curtailed. That is not great, but that also is life. We need to teach our Congress and president this basic fact.
Donald J. Myers a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a regular columnist for Hernando Today. He lives in Spring Hill and can be contacted at dmyers firstname.lastname@example.org.