Has your summer been downgraded yet?
© by Barbara Anderson
The Salem News
Thursday, August 11, 2011
America's debt ceiling was raised, her bond rating was lowered,
the stock market dropped, the unemployment rate was slightly
better than expected but expectations had been low.
So, how's your summer going?
Before I vacation in the hammock with light August reading, I'm
going to round out my series on the national debt with something
positive to get us to the next crisis, which is planned for
Thanksgiving. That's when the Select Committee on spending cuts
must release its recommendations.
Then rational savings will be agreed to by both Democrats and
Republicans or automatic, disorganized cuts will kick in.
You may think Thanksgiving is an odd choice of holiday for the
next crisis, but it's better than Halloween or April Fool's Day.
We shall be forced by our tradition of annual gratitude to look
at the bright side of whatever happens. I'm preparing for that
Got started when I read something by Pete Kasperowicz, who is
the lead blogger for The
Hill's Floor Action blog
in Washington, D.C. — the site where I keep up with the debate
on the national debt. His uncharacteristically whimsical column,
which appeared in his parents' biweekly South Shore free paper
The Tinytown Gazette, was titled "Imagine a world without
He imagined this simpler world beginning during the difficult
downsizing of government: your parents have moved in with you;
some homes contain four generations.
I immediately visualized myself at bedtime, calling upstairs to
my son, "Goodnight, John-Boy!" ... Hearing the twins call back,
"Good night, Gram!" (We've had a long day, some of us working
outside the home, others tending to the vegetable garden and the
chickens, and of course I've been writing a book about the
family interactions, someday to be a television series ...)
Kasperowicz mentions without going into details that "when the
government left the field, the prices of (some) things fell."
I've been thinking about this myself over the years ... how the
cost of education is higher because of the government grants,
and the cost of health care rises to meet available subsidies.
The price of housing has risen over the years to meet what's
"affordable" because of the mortgage-interest deduction and the
Kasperowicz's debt-free world has returned people to "the only
kind of honest life humans can probably ever know: one that is
less rushed ... spent with family and friends ... with a streak
of self-reliance that for so long was the object of study for
I think somewhere along the way many Americans got caught up in
consumerism for its own sake, in competition for "bigger,
better, faster." They were so busy living beyond their means
that they didn't notice our government doing the same thing. Who
had time while pursuing "the good life" to pay attention to
politics? And pretty soon, the good life was costing so much
that the pressure to maintain the lifestyle replaced the life.
Seriously, do we really like what our world has become?
Isn't it stressful having our parents in a faraway state, when
the time comes that they need our care? Or having the kids move
back because they can't find a job paying enough to repay the
student loans and get started on their independence? "Good
night, John-Boy, try not to let your college debt keep you
Or worse: "Good night, Mom and Dad, sorry you used your
retirement savings to pay for my college education. Next week
you run the cash register, I'll bag."
Of course, in my fantasy enactment of Kasperowicz's column, my
family is living in harmony now that the middle generation has
learned the error of its electing-Obama ways, and I have
recognized that this might have been the best decision in the
With John McCain, we would have continued the slow Republican
slide down the slippery slope to the perhaps inescapable mire of
greater debt. With Barack Obama — his inexperience, his lack of
understanding of what has made America great — we are going over
the cliff; we will either bounce, or go splat. But at least,
thanks to the Tea Party and other voters who are starting to
"get it," we have a chance for survival.
I got an email last week from my friend Christen Varley, leader
of the Greater Boston Tea Party, with a contribution to my
personal optimism campaign.
She was musing on a way out of the economic decline due to so
many jobs having disappeared overseas, and noted "our medical
research industry, as long as we stop over-regulating it; oil
and other domestic natural resources.
"We should be building cars, planes, trains, boats, heavy
construction equipment and military 'hardware' in the U.S. — for
national security purposes if nothing else," Varley wrote.
"Our food production should be top-notch. And let's not discount
education as an industry, if only we actually taught what is
useful and right. There are lots of opportunities outside of the
'service industry' for putting Americans back to work, if only
government would get out of the way. This recession could be the
re-making of us."
Yes, that's the word — re-making. Another, better way of saying
"hope and change."
The comments made
and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her
column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.
More of Barbara's
Citizens for Limited Taxation
▪ PO Box 1147
▪ Marblehead, MA 01945