It was the moment when a true leader would stand up and deliver the truth: “My fellow Americans, as much as we’ve talked about the role of Wall Street’s greed in the current economic crisis, we’ve been remiss in not talking about the responsibility of every American to exercise fiscal responsibility. Now is the time in which, instead of asking for more entitlement programs, Americans need to reflect on the words of JFK, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’”
The reason no candidate stood up and said that? The fear of political suicide.
But you know what I think? I think that deep in the heart of every over-spent American, he or she wants to hear that from the leader of our nation. They don’t want to hear George W. Bush’s “go out and spend for your country” anymore. Look where that got us in the last seven years! The average American household saves an average of -3% each year. Oops, I’m sorry. Let me re-state that. The average American household consumes an excess of 3% over their annual income every year. That means Americans increase their personal debt load by 3% each year. And we have the audacity to wag our finger at Washington.
Oops, let me re-state that. Americans have been doing what capitalists do: following the old “whoever dies with the most stuff wins” mentality. We consume. We’re Americans. It’s what we do. We no longer make anything – no, let the slobs overseas slobs do it for pennies on the dollar so we can go to Kirkland’s in the mall and buy the latest trendy resin house-thingy to make it look like we travel the world and have really sophisticated taste. And we buy our kids i-pods for Christmas and upgrade our computer and buy a new car and buy a much more expensive house than we know we can afford (‘Oh, but the interest rates are so low right now!!!!”), and we go to Hollister for school-clothes shopping so our kids can fit it and it goes on and on and on.
You see, somehow Americans have bought into the myth that consuming builds our economy and that it is our patriotic duty to do so. Um, talk to any economist or family credit counselor, and they’ll tell you that the responsible, patriotic and fiscally-healthy thing to do is to live within your means, and save or invest your money if you can afford to do so. Actually, that last bit might become absolutely crucial because it looks like our Social Security is going down man, dooooown.
Now, I realize it isn’t very fair of me to pick on my fellow Americans for living the way they have; my point wasn’t to criticize their lifestyle so much as to point out that Americans have been doing what they were expected to do and that expectation came from Washington. They snookered us into believing that we can have a healthy economy of non-producing consumers and that the bottom would never drop out. Ultimately, that is just NOT TRUE.
So, in that crucial moment in the debate where Americans needed to hear the ol’ tighten-the-belt speech, they got placation. They were essentially told not to worry about the economy and not to adjust their lifestyle. No, in fact it was implied that by remodeling your house to make it more green and efficient, and by buying a fuel efficient car, it would help the economy. Spend money and the economy can bounce right back.
Where is the leadership, I would like to know? Where is the common sense that says we can’t buy our way out of this crisis? Where are the persons of substance willing to stand up and say:
“My fellow Americans, get out of debt. Save some money. Invest some money. Live
within your means. It’s not enjoyable, but in order to get out of the crisis, we
are going to have pitch in and do our part to restore economic stability and
personal responsibility. I will not ask you to do something this federal
government is not willing to do, so you will see us tighten our belts. (And here
is where I DO agree with McCain) We need to put a spending freeze on all but the
essential programs such as defense and social security. Everything else must be
examined against its own merit, and the standard that it must be judged upon is:
1. Is it essential enough to
warrant the expenditure?
2. Can we
3. Is this something
that Americans can provide for themselves through greater personal and fiscal
4. Is this a
burden that is too much for one family or one person to bear and therefore needs
to be provided by a much larger entity, and if so, is the Federal government the
proper entity to provide the measure of this need?
“It’s not that
hard. American families indeed are doing it everyday in spite of the excesses of
some. It is something the Federal government needs to be committed to, and it is
something the people of America need to be committed to. And that, voters, is
the way to help America.”
Now that, my fellow Americans, is someone worthy of the Presidency.