My favorite things don't include debt

August 13, 2011|By ART CALLAHAM

Several weeks ago, I wrote a column about things I don't like.  My point then, as today, is that most of my columns conclude with things I like.

I like less government. I like letting states be sovereign entities that compete with one another without the constant oversight of a massive and seemingly all powerful and knowing central government. I like to preserve, as our forefathers dictated in the Constitution, the rights of states and individuals' rights. I like heroes.

So, once again, here are a couple of the things I don't like.

I don't like debt. Oh, I had a mortgage and I bought several automobiles with credit, and yes, I've maxed out my credit cards on some occasions. Those personal debts are not what I'm talking about. I don't like the "national debt" when it is spiraling out of control.

Before everyone gets up a head of steam because I have used this space to support local and state debt, let me be absolutely clear. The debt I'm talking about is our growing national debt that no one, particularly the current chief executive and the current Congress, has shown the ability or willingness to control. In fact, instead of focusing on the reduction of the debt, 567 men and women (100 senators, 465 members of the House of Representatives, a president and a vice president) in Washington, D.C., have figured out how to increase that debt while most likely preserving their positions as the elected representatives of you and me.  

Just like most of you, when I maxed out my credit cards and overspent my checkbook, I did two things (not one, but two); I cut expenses and I found new sources of income, including taking a second job. In my mind, the federal government must do the same two things. Not one — cut spending or raise revenue — independent of the other; it must do both. I have written several times that any debt solution must include some revenue increases (new taxes notwithstanding) and/or major tax law adjustments.

On the revenue side, I don't like "sharing the wealth" and I certainly don't like "sharing poverty," however every citizen must participate in the "funding of America." Today, many Americans pay no taxes. Everyone must pay something.  

On the expense side, I don't like the trend where "government is responsible for everyone's well-being." Although I defend the immortal self-evident truth that "all men are created equal" and none inherits a "divine right" to rule, I am practical enough to understand that the years after one's creation are the times that separate each of us from others. Over time, there will always be rich and poor, healthy and sick, educated and illiterate, and all situations in between.

In spite of that natural occurrence of separation after creation, everyone must contribute to the financial stability of this great nation. Every individual, not just corporately through government expenditures, must accept some degree of responsibility for the well-being of others.

If the aforementioned 567 folks don't solve our national financial crisis by October 2012, let's vote them all out — liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, unaffiliated, independent, tea partier. To me, and to many other Americans, all have been a disappointment on this issue.

Let's send new representatives to Washington with an ultimatum to fix this problem. Obviously, we can't rid our government of all of them; however, at the polls, with our votes, we can rid ourselves of some.

Related to this issue, I don't like any of the "talking heads" that we see in the national media fueling this or any crisis with rhetoric about things of which they know little or nothing. In the space of two minutes, you can get two differing opinions about the same issue, seldom with either opinion backed by facts.  Then, the media cuts to an inane statement by some celebrity with no credibility about anything of substance other than knowing the way to the dressing room at the "Late Show" with David Letterman or how to hit a hanging curve ball.

I don't like being played as a patsy by the national media, our Congress and the president. In the resolution of most issues you can find a winner, but not in this one. We have only a loser — and that loser is all of us.

Art Callaham is a community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees.

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