"Don't tax you; don't tax me. Tax the man behind the tree." That's a famous quip of the late Sen. Russell Long of Louisiana. And he would go on to say, "Yes, tax the man behind the tree."
And we don't want to run behind the tree. And we don't want budget cuts or services and entitlements eliminated or reduced. It is OK to reduce or cut them for the man behind the tree, but not me.
Presently, we are in a Great Recession, and the boom times have gone and won't return for quite a while.
History tells us that we had our golden era. The past 60 years had been probably the greatest period for production and consumption; advances in education and medical research; new discoveries and inventions; creativity; and the creation of the middle class that improved living conditions for most Americans.
Although we had several mild recessions in-between, we knew everything would get better. We defeated our enemies in World War II and took leadership of the world. We helped redevelop destroyed countries in Europe and invested heavily domestically in ourselves. We took off and became the world's superior.
Then one day we looked back and some of the countries we had helped were becoming our competitors. People in these countries saw how we had advanced and began to use our model. Then we started buying their products because they were making them more cheaply. Then our factories closed at home and moved to those countries where labor cost less.
In the 1990s, the dot-com boom came and the stock market soared. We made tons of money and governments and consumers went on another spending spree. Later, the boom burst.
Then someone thought of derivatives, and bundled and sold them to the world. Then we found out that many of the derivatives were poor risks. Then we began to have a financial crisis.
Meantime, we consumed and thought the good times would last forever. We didn't save too much because we have had a good time spending. Politicians promised us everything and lowered taxes.
The national debt grew and grew until it reached double digits in 2008; it's still growing. Now we holler "Cut spending!" and "Don't raise taxes!" Cuts will be made and some of us will be affected.
So, let us learn to live with less if we don't want to be the man behind the tree.
Tracy E. Williams Jr.