What is the difference? The working among us, out in the real world, know that debt is bad, and too much debt is very bad! In the world of love for big government and big control of all of our lives, there is no such thing as too much debt or too much government control.
The United States has gone from the Greatest Generation, the winners of World War II, to the Entitlement Generation. What is my evidence? One in seven Americans takes food stamps, triple what it was only a few years ago. The number of people receiving Social Security disability has blossomed as well.
Fifty-two percent of children born today are born to households using WIC, a food assistance program for poor families with children ages 5 and younger.
Locally, the people of Richmond County must be very proud of their official status. The federal government has judged that the people in that county are so universally needy that every child in their school system automatically receives free breakfast and free lunch. Some even get fed during the summer when schools are closed.
And the Augusta Commission have debated if they should declare parts of their community officially a “slum” so they can go to the federal government candy store for some money.
MEANWHILE, THE number of people working (the labor participation rate) is the lowest it has been in the past 35 years. Fewer than two-thirds of us actually work for a living. Eight million people have quit looking. Otherwise, the unemployment rate would be 15 percent or more.
The Affordable Care Act is the final blow to a fragile economy. A majority of new jobs are part time. Those who have jobs are having their hours cut. Hospitals and medical practices are laying off workers from top to bottom at a rate higher than ever before. Doctors are retiring early, and many in the health insurance business are simply quitting because of the complications of their jobs and the bleak future presented by the 100 percent takeover of health care by our federal government.
The smallest group plan premium increase I have found among businesses is 36 percent. Some are increasing in the 60 percent range. I don’t know of a single decrease in premiums. Many retirees in both government and private sectors are having their health benefits cut or their premiums increased.
It is not the fault of the insurance companies that they have to raise insurance rates. In the past, people bought insurance to prevent financial disaster in case they got expensive illnesses. Under this new environment, people can wait until they get colon cancer or need heart bypass surgery, and then buy the insurance they need. They need only to sign up during an enrollment period. What if the automobile insurance companies were made to sell auto insurance to people who could buy it right after they wrecked their cars? Perhaps I shouldn’t ask that. This may be a way that new entitlements are created. Doesn’t everybody deserve reasonably priced automobile insurance?
AS IF THE CURRENT administration needed it, they are proving their operational incompetence by not having the website capacity to handle the small number of inquiries. The number of attempts to get on to the website to shop through the exchanges has been a disaster to the administration. They trotted out and said that 5 million had attempted to shop, only to pull that number back significantly within hours.
Gas and other energy prices are higher than ever and are going to increase, and we still have no national plan for becoming energy-independent. The Keystone Pipeline; licensing of shale production in more states; and bringing back offshore drilling to pre-Obama levels would begin to end the price increases – but the Democrats in Congress and our president likely will prevent these from developing.
The U.S. debt is three-fourths of our gross domestic product. Greece’s is 100 percent of its GDP. We are only 10 to 15 years from looking like bankrupt Greece! We are on the path to a national financial train wreck. Only a few people see the writing on the wall.
As a society we need to face the harsh reality that we need to create a better environment for freedom and prosperity. Our citizens need to take care of themselves more and stop looking for the government to pay for food stamps, jobs, enforced employer and government benefits and a nanny-state style of control over everything in our day-to-day lives.
(The writer is a local business owner, business coach and professional speaker on the subject of culture and strategy.)