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Words from Winterbilt

Common Sense and Two Political Parties

Shannon Bohrer

(Nov, 2011) I was having a conversation with an acquaintance (I will call him Mike) and he wanted my thoughts about our government borrowing money, specifically more money. Before I could reply he added that he believed it was only a matter of time and other countries would just stop loaning us money and they would also demand payment for the money we currently owe them. I responded that there were only three countries in the world that were solvent, the ones loaning us money, so I did not think a problem existed. I then added that if the countries loaning us money could loan it somewhere else and ensure a return, they would. I donít know if the response was entirely true, but it sounded good. Mike then wanted to know what the countries were. I responded; South Korea, China and Japan, to which he replied he thought that Sweden was also solvent. I then said that I did not count Sweden because we donít owe them any money. He seemed satisfied with my answer, but again, I really donít know if we owe Sweden money.

Mike was trying to engage me in a conversation about politics, which I generally like to do. Mike and I have had very good political conversations in the past and I do enjoy his perspectives and his company. However, sometimes Ė some people want to engage you in conversation and it can be difficult because they only want your opinion, providing it confirms their beliefs. I donít believe this was the case with Mike, our conversation was civil and we both listened, although I donít think he liked all of my answers. After a short while he again said something about borrowing money, using an analogy about a neighbor that borrows too much. I said we all know people that have probably borrowed too much money, lived beyond their means, and now theyíre in bad shape. But if we purchased a new truck last year, we made obligations to pay for it and if we donít pay for it, then we lose the truck. Mikeís response was that the government has too many trucks and he is probably right.

Mike then asked me a broader question related to our economy, something along the lines of how long can we continue to borrow and spend. I replied that we can borrow as long as someone is willing to loan us money, and I donít know how long that is. I added that it will eventually get us in trouble, more trouble than we are already in. However, if we do not borrow, at least for the short term, it would be like driving up hill and then turning off the gas Ė you can drift backward real fast. Borrowing is bad and good, bad because we have too much debt and good because it keeps us from sliding back down the mountain. Of course the more you borrow the worse it gets. Conversely it could be argued that deregulation and tax breaks, what some are still calling for, has only added to our problems. We cannot borrow our way out of debt, nor can we continue with tax breaks and financial deregulation - expecting a different result. Mike question to me was, "Then what do we do?" I responded that when an election becomes available we vote everyone out. It is our fault for voting either for the same people and/or the same party each time, as if one is good and the other is bad. We, the voters are responsible for the government we have. Currently our choice is bad or worse and sometimes worse is the better choice. Your choice is which one is worse and remember Ė choose wisely. If Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense, were alive today he may say that having the same two parties in office is like having two kings that take turns being in power. It defies common sense.

Currently our choice is bad or worse and sometimes worse is the better choice. Your choice is which one is worse and remember Ė choose wisely

This is the area where a lot of individuals seem to have a problem with common sense. There are people that believe that one party will save us from the other party Ė which is evil. They are so vested in one party that they donít hear or see the problems that each has, they only hear and see the problems from the other party. Additionally, they only hear and see the positives from the party they favor, which in itself is another problem. From my perspective both parties have problems, which everyone should be aware of, since they are frequently pointed out by the other party.

One good thing is that both have a plan, although I must admit the plan often resembles what they have done in the past. And thatís the problem; the old plans are dependent upon growth to pay our debts. The democratic plan appears to one of priming the engine. Itís like pouring gas into the carburetor to start the engine and when the engine runs growth will be created. However, if the engine does start it will only run for a short while because the gas tank is empty - so the engine can only run as you pour gas in Ė and remember the gas is borrowed. The republican plan is for lower taxes and less regulation that will create an environment for business to create jobs and the creation of jobs will mean growth. The reality is that if lower taxes and less regulation created jobs, we should have been awash in jobs and growth from the last president. Instead the banks went nuts and the job creators keep their tax breaks. Both sides believe that growth will be our salvation and historically it has, but not this time.

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." Albert Einstein

Sometimes, even if you know where youíre going Ė you wonít get there. Relying on growth to create jobs, revenue and prosperity is our history and one could argue, very logical. However, even if we did have products and services to sell it would not matter Ė because nobody is buying. Being part of a world economy is good when itís growing, but not so good when itís not. I do believe the public understands many of our problems since congresses approval rating is 14 percent. Of course you have to wonder Ė who is the 14 percent?

Next month we start a series on applying Thomas Paineís Common Sense Ė in current times.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer