Hopefully - Congress will create a deficit reduction plan this week. They will do for the nation what 99% of households in America have had to do in the past few years - make hard choices. One of my early mentors, Carl Freeman, used to say - "give a child two lolly pops, he loves you - take one away - he hates you." Carl Freeman had lived through the depression, he knew seismic shifts in markets, plans, and fortunes were a reality. He built a real estate fortune on common sense ideas like hard work, low debt, innovative thinking, and creating value for the customer. Simple principles that required a strong mind, a strong back, personal integrity, and resolve. As a culture - we need to get back to these kinds of simple basics to solve our economic woes.
As citizens - we need to join the conversation for fiscal sustainability. When the debt ceiling is raised this week - there are still many questions which must be considered to build a sustainable future- here are a few.
How do we reform the tax system? We can't simply continue to raise taxes on a small group of people to pay for the rest of society. The rhetoric says we should raise taxes on the rich because they can afford it. That's akin to allowing anyone with less money to rob you on the street because to them - you can afford it. It doesn't make sense. Nor does - having outdated corporate loopholes for luxury items purchased over the years with political influence. We need a tax code that promotes investment, self interest for all, and motivates people to produce goods and services. We need equitable tax reform.
What is the right size of a social safety net? How much should each family be required to spend for society's problems - homelessness, hunger, education, environmental clean up, medical insurance, social security etc... I don't know the answer but it is evident - the American economy can fund a great deal but cannot afford to fund all of the current social needs. Something must change. How will we set the priorities? What funding responsibilities will shift from the Federal government? Something must and will change. How will we protect the needy?
When will the government stop borrowing money? We have to stop deficit spending. Something has to give. If the United States was a business - the banks would laugh at the plans on the table. The United States is the global 600 pound economic gorilla - the government can print money, raise taxes, and ride the historical myth that we are to big to fail - but those techniques buy time - they don't solve the fundamental problem that the government must borrow money to sustain a national lifestyle we can't afford. When will this stop? How will it stop? Raising the debt ceiling is a failure - a failure to correctly budget our national resources and prioritize needs based upon national revenues. It's time to balance the budget.
How will we stop blaming each other and start solving real problems? When will politicians take accountability for the problems they have created? When will voters take responsibility for sending politicians to Washington who can't solve the problems? Every political speech I have ever heard has someone telling me they will "fight for me" in Washington. Stop fighting - and get something done. It's time to agree that we have all been part of the problem - it's time to work together for a sustainable system for future generations.
Big questions that will not go away until every citizen joins the conversation for common sense.