Friday, February 6, 2009

Tired of All the Financial Hand-Wringing

Am I the only one who is more than a little bit tired of the end-of-the-world financial hand-wringing going on in the news these days? Every day, day after day, both the local and network news lead with stories about the 'fiscal crisis' or the 'financial meltdown' that is happening at all levels of government. Cutbacks, layoffs, budgets, spending, revenues, stocks, bonds...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! Now anyone who knows me knows that I take these kinds of things seriously, so this is no sports or entertainment-starved and isolated individual talking here about being fed up. I have read books on economics on my own, not school related. That isn't to brag about any alleged intelligence, just to note that I do really have an interest in these matters. I like to understand what people are talking about, at least to a certain level. But what is happening today in this country is utter and complete doom-and-gloom defeatism. As always, I do have a political take on at least a part of the problem. But it might surprise some of you where I lay that political blame. I blame my own Republican Party and its leadership at the Presidential level and at the Congressional levels. You see, I fully expect Democrats to spend your hard-earned money and mine like a bunch of drunken sailors on shore leave. I fully expect the Dems, leaning more and more towards open socialism these days, to demand government intervention and control over as many facets of our day-to-day lives as they can get their grubby hands on. Those things are a given with me, and with most people who look at the political world with open eyes. But I expect more from my Republican Party, and I am not getting it. Much to the Dems chagrin, George W. Bush was in the White House for eight long years. He had a Republican-led Congress for a part of that time. But despite this advantage in political power, the nation took steps backwards in key areas where Republicans are supposed to move us forward as a part of our very fundamental structure. This was highlighted by their spending your money and mine at a pace that leaves only a one word description - Democrats. For the past eight years Republicans have been as much to blame if not more so for the fiscal problems in which we now find ourselves mired. Republicans are supposed to stand up for two major fiscal principles: lower spending, lower taxation. As we all know, when we lower spending federal money, and we lower the amount of money taken from the pockets of individuals and the accounts of business, we increase freedom. People and businesses have more of their hard earned money and are free to spend it on their own wishes, needs, desires, futures. We also need some solid controls to ensure that people don't go crazy and mortgage away their future on dreams that they cannot handle. Why give someone a mortgage for a $500,000 house when they cannot possibly afford it based on any reasonable estimate of their income and employment history when balanced against the likelihood of future market changes in things like interest rates? But that is just what we allowed to happen over the past decade or so. People were allowed to buy bigger homes than they could afford, or second/vacation homes, or rental properties that they could not afford. It was up to Republicans to be smart and pull in the reigns, or at least to publicly put out stern warnings. It didn't happen. Now another key Republican idea is that we are all big boys and girls. We know very well what we are getting into when we sign on the dotted line. If you signed up for a huge variable rate mortgage that you could only afford because that rate was so low at the time that you obtained it, and then could no longer afford the payments when the rates inevitably went up and were in danger of losing your home, that is absolutely on you. You knew without a shadow of a doubt when you signed those papers that this was a serious risk that you were taking. We all make decisions in life, from what we put in our bodies (food, cigarettes, other people) to what we put in our financial portfolios (properties, stocks, artwork) and we all take on the risks and consequences of those decisions. We love it when things are riding high, but we all know that the party is going to end some day, and we need to make sure that we are prepared for that day. In this case, very few people made the adult decision to let us know that the sky was going to fall, and likely fall hard and fast. Now everyone is running around like Chicken Little, and I am just a bit tired of it all. I want my Republican Party leadership to stand up for fiscal sanity and a return to their roots. They made a good start last week when every single Republican member of the House of Representatives voted against President Barack Obama's massive socialist spending boondoggle that he calls a "stimulus" package. They need to continue that very real and very Republican leadership, and inspire more and more Republican leaders to step forward and take those same positions as we move forward and try to regain both Congress and the Presidency. But even if we can win those elections it won't matter a hill of beans if there is no basic philosophical difference manifesting itself in the actions of Republicans over what their Democrat counterparts would have done. It's not rocket science, it's basic conservative Republican ideals at their best: lower spending, lower taxes, more freedom. Long live democracy and capitalism. Let's put an end to this socialism and defeatist hand-wringing right now.

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