Summertime Blues, Nation in a Funk

All my life I have shared a pride in America’s exceptionalism, its moral leadership and the American spirit of enduring optimism. Today, I find it more difficult to be enthusiastic about our future. One in 10 U.S. wage earners is officially out of work. Fifteen million American workers are unemployed. An official 9.5% unemployment rate skyrockets to 18% when you count those who have given up trying to find jobs. Construction unemployment is in the range of 35%. There are few summer jobs for teens and not many for graduating college seniors.

By 2 to 1 Americans feel our country is on the wrong track–staggering deficits, fewer jobs, higher taxes and increased spending. The number of U.S. homes foreclosed on and repossessed by banks, hit a record high in the second quarter, up 38% over last year. The estimate is for 1 million American homes to be lost in 2010. Budget-strapped states, cities and counties are cutting services, shedding workers or raising taxes and fees.

The President has called for the most massive redistribution of wealth in U.S. history. He has put us on the road to national healthcare, bringing more uncertainty to businesses and the medical community. Like it or not, ObamaCare will most certainly take away the power of doctors and patients and hand it over to federal bureaucrats. Based on past performance within similar systems, it is not unreasonable to predict government rationing of healthcare, lower quality and higher costs to consumers and business.

The President supports amnesty for illegal immigrants without an effective plan to seal the border. His cap and trade energy plan would mean higher energy costs for consumers. Federal bailouts of big banks meant that Goldman was adjudged to be too big to fail but Lehman Brothers was not. The federal takeover of GM ran roughshod over traditional bankruptcy protections; it stiffed the bondholders to pay off union workers.

Common Sense, Limited Government

Government has inserted itself into every aspect of our lives from how to flush our toilets to how to save the snail darter. Central planning cannot solve every problem. Public education is a mess. The clean-up of the oil in the gulf has been late and uncoordinated. The feds can’t do their job and seal our southern border. The State of Arizona says to the feds if you can’t do your job, we’ll help you do it. The feds cry “racial profiling” and sue the State of Arizona for enforcing federal law while turning a blind eye to sanctuary cities and those who ignore our immigration laws. How bizarre is that?

We the people are over-taxed, over-stimulated and over-regulated by an arrogant political class whose main mission is to buy votes to stay in power. This nation is in deep, deep gumbo–and it’s a lot worse than just tar balls on our beaches from a nasty oil leak.

Manufacturing has been shipped overseas; we are now a service-based economy. When I was young, the United States was the greatest industrial power in the world–the arsenal of democracy. Now we have become de-industrialized; we no longer make steel, autos or even toys. Instead, we import, borrow and spend and charge it to our grandchildren. We owe China and the Saudis a staggering $7 trillion, enough to buy all the companies listed on the NY Stock Exchange. Nations that have taken our jobs are on-fire economically. Our prosperity has been shipped offshore.

Job Creation

We must focus on policies that promote private sector growth, not more entitlements. Most of our problems would be lessened by robust private sector job creation which would lead to greater government revenues, fewer home foreclosures, increased consumer spending, greater national prosperity, less business and consumer uncertainty. So what does the president do? He has turned a tin ear to our anemic private sector job creation. He bashes the free enterprise system that has created the greatest opportunity and the most wealth for the most people in the history of the world; he relentlessly attacks private business and profits; he raises taxes and adds more regulations–all job creation killers.

Last year’s $862 billion stimulus bill was a flop because instead of creating private sector jobs that pay for the cost of more government, this stimulus bill was loaded with pork to create and save government jobs in states that overspent. The expansion in the size and scope of the federal government is frightening. Do we really need 42 new unaccountable Czars that will cost $100 billion over the next five years?

The federal government can’t pay its bills; neither can the State of California; and increasingly the County and City of Santa Barbara are faced with layoffs to pay the costs of unsustainable runaway government pensions and benefits. There is budget gridlock in Washington; there is gridlock in Sacramento; and gridlock in Santa Barbara.

Two years ago, the majority of us supported freshman Senator Barack Obama for president, not on his military, legislative or private sector accomplishments (there weren’t any) but on his vow to end politics-as-usual and bring transparency and integrity to government. His appeal was a clam to office that he could transcend the partisan divide. Sadly, come November we get to make another choice.

Bob Hazard

August 2020

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