Older Americans Month a Time to Reflect

May 11, 2010

May is older Americans month and it is a good time to reflect on what has happened since the last older Americans month in May 2009. The "great" recession had settled in by May, 2009 and its impact was felt in all corners of our economy. People were losing their jobs, the financial markets were in panic and big established businesses were going bankrupt. The government stepped in to wage war against the recession and in this "fog" of war took unprecedented steps to try to right the ship. We could argue all day about whether the stimulus package was a good idea or whether the government should have regulated Wall Street better, but all of that is now history and there's nothing we can do about it now. What I would like to talk about is what our relationship with our government is right now; what that relationship should be; and where our government headed.

 

Today we are led by a government that owns controlling equity in one of the biggest car companies in the world. It holds the paper, through its assumption of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, on a huge percentage of the home mortgages in our country. It has propped up or bought major portions of some of the biggest financial institutions in America. It has raised our taxes and, for the first time in history through the health care reform law, mandated that we purchase something… health insurance. The government has spent an unprecedented amount of money in the last year and increased our debt tremendously. These facts lead us to some important questions that need to be asked. Is this the government that we need or want? Is this the government that will maintain our financial stability into the future? Is this the government that our founding fathers envisioned?

 

It seems to have become easier lately to turn to the government to solve all of our problems. When we signed on the bottom line for a mortgage on a house we couldn't afford, we said that it was the government's fault for not stopping us. When we ran up our credit cards so high that we couldn't pay for them, we encouraged our government to make it easier for us to declare bankruptcy. Many Americans don't feel uncomfortable at all when the taxes of others are used to prop them up. It seems that lately we have begun to be comfortable with losing our "self" in government; which includes losing our self-control, our self-reliance, and our self-respect. We have found that the easy way out is to blame government for our problems and then ask them to rescue us from ourselves. That is not the relationship that the founding fathers envisioned and certainly not one I think most Americans want.

 

It is my belief that most Americans want a government that acts financially like most of us do; we don't spend more than we take in, we keep our promises to people and creditors, and we don't blame others for the consequences of our own actions. Our government doesn't think we know how to do that, so, to protect us from ourselves, they will mandate that we all buy health insurance and if we don't, they will use the biggest tax collector in the world, the IRS, to enforce the law. From my research this is the first time that the government has sought to regulate inactivity, the case when someone does nothing. They say this is OK because they contend that this inactivity of some to buy health insurance means that the rest of us must foot the bill when these people go to the emergency room for their health care. My question is, if the government succeeds in this mandate on inactivity where will it stop? If my inactivity as a person is manifested by me sitting on the couch all day and not getting any exercise, which results in me being obese and greatly increasing my share of the country's health care expenditures, shouldn't I be mandated to eat right and exercise? Smoking is bad for our health and it is a fact that the average cost of health care is much higher for those who smoke. Why don't we just mandate that no one can smoke? To keep us from getting into a financial bind why don't we just give everyone a standard house and charge one government-controlled and/or subsidized fee? I think you can see that once we give up some of our freedom to the government that very quickly we will lose all of our freedom.

 

The fact remains that our government belongs to us. We have some important elections coming up that will determine to a great extent what our relationship with our government will be for many years. I will be asking you to be active participants in the election process because we are at a pivotal point in America's path in determining whether we are a free, self-governed people, or whether we are willing to surrender our freedom and the control of our government to others.

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