Out of My Mind, Dec. 15, 2011

Time for the one percent to ante up

Everyone should live within their means – this is true for governments as well as people. You should only spend based upon your income/revenue.

For those of us that earn a monthly paycheck, only being able to spend what you earn seems obvious, but right now those at the highest levels of our government are arguing about what living within ones means means. For some it means further government cuts – and the cuts to be made are usually based on one side or the other’s political philosophy. For others it means increases in taxes or just going back to a time when the tax rate seemed to be keeping up with the spending on everything from social programs to defense.

There has been much good that has come out of this long running debate – Congress seems to be admitting we can no longer go on spending without bringing in additional revenue or making cuts in other areas – in reality a combination of both. There has also been a lot of talk about not adding new programs (or wars for that matter) without first showing We the People how we’re going to pay for them. Mostly it has just been a lot of talk though — a game of political one-upmanship between parties.

However, cuts in federal spending usually mean cuts in state spending and it keeps rolling downhill, not stopping until it gets local. We’ve seen our schools, hospitals, county and towns all suffer from the aftereffects of the bad economy. Our local boards are having to make the tough decisions. Take North Valley Hospital for instance, the financial manager sees the possibility of further deeper cuts in federal and state spending actually leading to the shutting of the hospital’s doors (see this week’s story by Brent Baker). Our hospital, an essential service if there ever was one, shouldn’t be faced with such a dire outlook.

In a country as great and as rich as ours we shouldn’t have to worry about whether our roads and bridges are safe, whether there are enough police to protect our lives and property or whether our elderly and our ill are going to get the medical attention they need (we shouldn’t have to worry about anyone getting the medical treatment they need, but that’s an discussion we’ll hold for later.)

The reality is, we can find lots of things to cut from the federal and state budgets, but eventually you’ll run out of things to cut and need to find more revenues. And, those on the downhill side of things worrying over dwindling budgets in our counties, towns and hospitals just won’t be able to afford to accept anymore of what’s been rolled downhill and still keep operating.

If we’ve made the hard choices, cut where we could and decided we still want to keep the services we’ve become accustomed to, then the only way to do so is through learning to live within our means – in the case of the government that’s going to mean more taxes. Now the big decision will be who is going to pay those taxes, the one’s struggling to make ends meet in the lower and middle class or those one-percent who are enjoying the benefits of the largess of the United State’s previous administration. Call it class warfare if you will, the 99 percent already pay more than their fair share, it’s time for the rest to ante up.