Friday, May 18, 2012

American Economy Needs the Biggest Loser!

Folks the politicians are at it again saying things like, “We all need to pay the price for recovery,” or “Everyone needs to have skin in the game.” Both parties seem to be the same two-headed snake I’ve written about previously. I see no imagination just cut social programs to the bone and tax citizens until they're bled dry. In truth the economy shouldn’t be compared to lemmings jumping off a cliff of debt. Don’t let them scare you! The economic growth and wealth for some over the last 12 years has been great. Our gross domestic product increased while our middle class and jobs shrank. Now, those same people want the rest of us whose jobs they sent overseas, and whose wages have flat lined or went down to get skin in the game because entitlement programs we're forced to pay into are going to cost too much.

The truth is the American economy, not Americans, has become fat and lazy. It doesn’t want to work anymore or grow. Forget about walking, the muscles of our economy haven’t been used for anything except shoveling food into the mouth of corporate profits and the wealthiest 1%. The corporations are sitting on 2 ½ trillion dollars of capital fat ass-ets. No matter how much they want to spin it, corporations are not people. They are businesses ran by people. They are a necessary muscle in creation of jobs and vital to a healthy economy. The problem is they aren’t working out or exercising leaving those bloated fat cells which could be used as fuel for the economic muscle growth to atrophy.
Our politicians need to think of creative ways to become like Jillian Michaels to inspire corporations to get off their butts and start burning that fat. Our politicians are going to have to appeal to the people running the corporations because companies don’t think for themselves. Their officers and boards of directors make the decisions so quit calling corporations people and get creative. Our government needs to find out what those boards of directors need to get them to use corporate capital for job creation and economic growth. If the find the right dietary carrot, you’ll see energy jump back into the economy as well as those companies. Maybe cut back on regulations which wouldn’t hurt the public health or environment? Maybe tax credits linked to job creation in our country versus overseas? If carrots don’t work then pull out the stick to prod them, but get them off their fat capital butts.   

However, the corporations aren’t the only muscles not working correctly in the current body economic. Our governments at all levels, federal, state and local, need to revise the way they burn fat, too. On the Biggest Loser they call it retraining the muscles to work properly. Right now, our governments’ budgets have turned into bloated fat cells. The answer is not eating more tax sweets paid for by the citizenry, or drinking their tax calories by cutting services to the people paying their salaries. I truly believe the tax and spend philosophy is going to make our schools, police departments, firehouses and every other government agency go blind or lose their feet and legs to overweight budget diabetes.

For example, almost all taxpayer funded entities spend every dime they get every year so they won’t have their budgets reduced the following year. Why? If muscles don’t burn the calories our bodies take in then it goes to fat or into the toilet as waste. We have to change this mentality. We shouldn’t punish agencies for reducing waste by cutting their budgets. We should let them have rainy day funds so we don’t need to increase taxes every year to increase budgets. Nothing irritates taxpayers more than seeing frivolous spending followed by a tax increase. I was privy to this at a local school. They found they had a $100,000.00 left in their budget, and they literally searched for ways to spend the money so their budget wouldn’t be reduced the next year. Now imagine my surprise when I received a notice that my property taxes were increasing automatically because the school, firehouse, police department, library and mental health departments were all increasing their budgets by the amount allowed by law without a public vote. (Thanks President Bush for tax increases without public discussion or vote.)

Admittedly, the volunteer firehouse is no better. They had a small budget before they convinced the local citizens to publicly fund them. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Before they got a taste of deep fried taxes, they would go door to door asking for donations, and their budgetary needs were one of their biggest talking points. If just 1 out of 10 households in their service area donated just $20.00 then they would have enough to cover their financial needs. Part of the reason people voted to put the volunteer firehouse on the public payroll with their tax dollars was the expectation the taxes wouldn’t be that high. Surely, if everyone is now contributing rather than 1 in 10, the costs should be minimal. My taxes increased $240.00 that year for the firehouse alone. All of a sudden $20.00 from 1 in 10 households wasn’t enough. My yearly contribution increased 1200% because it was no longer a gift. It was a requirement, and their budgetary needs immediately started to grow automatically year after year.

However, the muscle steroid abuse award goes to the police department. I love good cops and have many family members who serve or have served in blue. I’m not fond of police who abuse their positions in our society, and it applies to the top dogs. I understand the need for a new police cruiser or two over time. I don’t understand why they have to be sports cars, get detailed racing stripes or be equipped with spinning hubcaps. Now, I wasn’t privy to their budget needs or how much money they needed to spend to keep from having reductions, but the public can see those spinning hubcaps every time the cruiser goes down the road. I had a friend tell me he thought the officers might have paid for the hubcaps out-of-pocket. I’m glad my tax dollars didn’t pay for them if that is the case, but I still don’t know it as a fact. Regardless, I think it is inappropriate. If I don’t like the thought of my tax dollars paying for spinning hubcaps on police cruisers then I’m sure others are thinking the same thing.

Maybe a bonus system based on budgetary discipline would be in order? As long as services are reduced, we could allow government agencies to take 10% off any surplus and pay it to their workers as a bonus while sticking the rest in a savings account for future needs. Don’t reduce their budget, but don’t increase it either. It gives enough incentive to work out for a payoff. After some time passes, you can reduce the taxpayer burden by interest generated by the rainy day funds. If all levels of government functioned this way, we might see ridiculous savings in operating budgets and large savings accounts instead. My guess is you’d see some happy public servants with some nice bonus checks, also.

Finally, we have a mega-rich 1% in our country that holds most of the wealth. Over the last 10 years they’ve seen their wealth grow in ridiculous, some might say obscene, proportions compared to the struggles of the rest of the 99% of Americans. Congress needs to find incentives for them as well. True they pay large tax bills, but they are the main beneficiary of the tax breaks over the last 10 years to the point our national debt has increased unnecessarily to keep giving them a little extra income. Our excuse to pile on the debt to keep giving them the extended tax break was they create jobs. If it were working then we wouldn’t currently have this double chin and gut hanging over our knees in debt fat. I say it is easy to fix. If they can prove job creation in proportion to their tax breaks, let them keep their individual tax breaks, and if they can’t then take away their tax breaks on an individual basis. If what the Republicans say is true, we won’t penalize or hurt the job creators in this manner, and they no longer have an excuse to withhold votes needed for the other 99% of Americans to satisfy the needs of 1%. I have a sneaky suspicion the 1% will suddenly start creating jobs or at least start putting a little more of their skin back in the game. I’m not against cutting their taxes again. If we manage to get fit economically, out of debt and see a budget surplus again, we should operate on the notion we will decrease Americans' taxes in proportion to interest generated off government savings accounts. It might be sometime before we get there, but it will be worth it.

Currently, our economy is suffering from our various parts not working correctly. Our corporations and mega-rich 1% know you have to spend money to make money, but they sit on record capital and wealth. Our economy is suffocating from an over conservative attitude focused on slashing budgets, debt ceilings and tax rates. While it is true all levels of our government need to reform the way they operate, the aforementioned businesses and 1% need to loosen up, quit sitting on that fat capital and work out.


  1. Frank, thanks for posting your true gut feelings. You're so right. My stomach buckles when I see so many poor, plus now "average," people struggling just to keep afloat in this vicious sea of life while there are many who have so much money that if they can pool their assets together could stamp out poverty, fund social & medical programs many need... in short, help to make this tilted world spin a bit smoother.