Monday, April 1, 2013
Chained in a Gilded Cage
As the "tax breaks" expired with the new year, Sir Knight and I, among countless others, felt the pinch in our paycheck. We grumbled a bit, railed against government excess and then did what most everyone else we know did - tightened our belt.
Tightening an already ridiculously tight belt is a challenge. Some things, like bills and the ever-present taxes, are non-negotiable, which leaves things like food and fuel to take the biggest hit. Of course our food and fuel budgets are already stretched pretty thin so stretching them further is painful. We are left with very little at the end of the month, but, amazingly, we always have enough to make it through - never as much as we'd like, but enough.
It seems as though our local, state and federal governments are not as inclined as their citizens to tighten their proverbial belts. Stockton, California is the latest (and largest) of our cities to declare bankruptcy in the face of rising expenditures and lower tax revenues. Rather than make hard decisions, live within their means and feel the pain now, they continue to increases taxes, borrow money and rob Peter to pay Paul until the inevitable happens - insolvency. And then, they scream, cry foul and demand - you guessed it - more tax money, because, heaven forbid, if the people don't pay up children will go hungry, poor, helpless single mothers will be forced to live in poverty and the wealthy elite (who should have been paying their "fair share" from the beginning) will take over the world, re-introduce work houses and trample on the human rights of the under-trodden. Oh, the inhumanities!
But, in all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, you will never hear a confession of guilt. Not once will the government officials stand before the taxpayers and humbly admit that their overspending, poor stewardship and wanton excess was, in fact, the greatest contributing factor to the fall of the civilized world. They will never beg forgiveness, right their wrongs and move forward with honesty and integrity. Our leaders, in fact, are not the least bit repentant for the part they have played in the dismantling of our nation.
Budgeting is not a matter of politics and rhetoric, but rather a matter of not spending more than you make. Many a Professor of Economics can lecture We the People on the complexities of federal budgets, tell us that we "can't possibly understand", however, we know the truth. The truth is that you pay what you owe, you don't spend more than you bring in and you always have at least six months in reserve for a rainy day. Plain and simple. When your income decreases, you expenditures must decrease. And yes, it can be painful. It can hurt. But it has to be done.
Just as Sir Knight and I have to be responsible with what resources we have, so our government must be responsible. In our greed, we have allowed them to spend and spend and spend, often on things that will affect us directly. We have not been willing to forgo the niceties and live within our means. But now, our collective means have run out.
The answers are there. They won't be easy. But, they won't kill us. People will have to step up to the plate and take care of themselves rather than expecting the government to take care of them. They will have to take care of their own children, their own parents and their own problems. The church will have to become what the church was intended to be and the family will have to resume its rightful place as the best and only social welfare system. It will be hard but it can be done.
Until we throw off the shackles of a debt-ridden government we will be little more than slaves to immoral men. Our leaders are nothing more than our fellow citizens and we cannot hold them to standards that we, ourselves, refuse to abide.
Our leaders were chosen by us to represent our needs and secure our best interest. It is in our best interest to pay our debts and be slaves to no one. I would rather live in poverty and freedom than to be chained in a gilded cage begging the favor of another.