Just share the pain … please!

I’m sorry, but the expectation that I “tough out” the economic pain caused by large government deficits, which were caused by economic mismanagement and two wars, are starting to wear me down. 

This urge to apologize is the result of my position on the political scale.  (You have all seen these questionnaires I’m sure, the ones that ask a range of political, economic, and social questions designed to measure your leftward or rightward political tilt.  The program then compiles the results to pinpoint your location on a two-dimension political scale.  I always test to the center of the scale, slightly conservative socially, slightly libertarian economically.)     

My apology stems from the fact that lately my libertarianism is starting to fray. 

You see, it’s much, much easier to remain faithful to your clan when everything is hunky dory (i.e. ducky, jake, copacetic, good).  It gets only slightly harder when things get tough but you can sense that the pain is shared … roughly equally and across the board. 

But now the board seems to have a wall across it.  I never had a problem when the wall prevented the better things on the other side from trickling over to my side.  But I have a real problem when the wall prevents whatever pain is being inflicted on me from seeping over to inflict those people on the other side, especially when they would barely even notice.

I’m a big fan of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  Not because I’m convinced he possesses all the right answers, but because he is at least willing to speak plainly about what he perceives to be the problems; is unafraid to tack deliberately into politically turbulent areas; and is bold in taking the actions he deems essential to New Jersey’s longterm health.  Similarly, I can identify with Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.  His attempt to unilaterally suspend union bargaining rights seems a bridge too far.  But it’s hard not to agree with the view that unions cannot – in this economic climate – get away with paying little towards burgeoning healthcare costs or with enjoying incredibly generous pensions that are publicly funded.        

However, as a federal employee, I can also sympathize with the union members of Wisconsin.  So far this year I have had my salary frozen for the next two, three or five years depending on which flavor of the day emanates from Congress.  We have also heard the whisperings that unpaid furloughs could be in the offing as well.  No matter how you slice it, it comes out to a pay cut, since no one’s costs of living are frozen along with your frozen pay.

But you can deal with – if not fully accept – it, because you have the sense that The Other Guy is suffering along with you.

That’s simply not the case with the rich.

During the recent budget negotiations between the newly minted 112th Congress and the Obama administration I was an interested member of the audience.  The give-and-take that bounded back and forth between the two camps, and as examined eight-ways-to-Sunday by the talking heads, was a fascinating balancing act between how best to resolve the exponential growth of the national debt and at what point higher tax rates for the rich might retard business growth and investment. 

Should higher taxes kick in for those making over $250K a year?  $500K?  a million?  The warnings were dire.  The pictures, painted by the analysts, bleak.  Common sense seemed to indicate that the line had to be drawn in there somewhere.

So, you can imagine my befuddlement at the decision to punt the issue, not into next year but two years hence (or quite coincidentally, after both The House and President Obama run for re-election in 2012).

Even then, I wasn’t particularly annoyed … libertarian supply-sider that I am.

No, it wasn’t until I started grappling with the first-hand economic realities that I had to start venting some steam.  Health insurance – up, food prices – up, gas prices – up, new tires for the car … you get the picture.

No.  I’m sorry.  This has got to stop. 

You can’t keep dumping on the working people without throwing some of the manure over that wall.  The rich can be characterized as Hosni Mubarak-like, disconnected and blithely oblivious.  But the “solutions” are just few more strafing runs away from Moammar Gadhafi!

2 thoughts on “Just share the pain … please!

  1. Please send me an e-mail at interlocutor.2@live.com.

    Your message was identified as simply a “limewire free download”. So I have no idea who you are.

    I’m not an everybody’s-a-friend Facebook type. So forgive me for asking how I might know you or – if not – why you would like to know more/connect.

    And forgive me if I do know you.
    Thanks … Mike


  2. Some interesting information out of Chris Christie’s appearance this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”:

    * New Jersey pays 92% of healthcare costs for all state workers.
    * Most public teachers in NJ pay NOTHING towards healthcare.
    * However, the highest tax bracket in NJ pays 9% in taxes, with the richest 1% paying 41%, the highest rates in the country.

    This illustrates my point in the above post from the opposite angle. The rich in NJ pay; but the unions pay next to nothing.

    When NJ teacher unions were asked to freeze pay for ONE year, and contribute 1.5% of salary towards healthcare to avoid state layoffs of teachers, the response was “Go to hell!”

    Teachers were then laidoff.

    Police layoffs in Camden and Newark were forced by significant budget shortfalls, caused in part by overly generous benefit plans. The costs for an individual police officer in the respective cities was composed of 71%/68% of costs in BENEFITS (i.e. just 29%/32% consisted of salary). Camden ended up laying off 104 police officers in a city that can ill afford the loss.

    The pain sharing has to flow in BOTH directions!


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