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March 3, 2011

Paying the Bills

Patricia A. Kelly

We all have to do it if we want to live in a house, have groceries, electricity, heat, air conditioning, a car. We can finagle for awhile without paying the bills, but the bank will show up eventually.


I do have a friend who kept the bank away for nine years using the Americans with Disabilities Act, but that’s another story.


Back in the ’80s when money was growing on trees, we all knew we could borrow all we wanted because stock and real estate values were increasing, not to mention information technology salaries would be going up forever, and we’d be able to pay everyone back by selling an inflated asset any time we wanted.


It took awhile, and took the “busting” of the mortgage fraud (encouraged by government mandates to get low income people into home ownership); but the magic wealth dried up, and we’re nearly in line for apples. Or is it selling apples on the street corner?


Which brings us to another story. The current unrest in the Middle East was touched off by an out-of-work guy in Tunisia, who set himself on fire because the government wouldn’t let him sell fruit to make some money. Economic downturns and excessive government control can have broad repercussions.


So, now, after a couple of ill-advised wars, the spending of money in the Social Security Trust for other things, a healthcare reform act that mandates payments and private choices, but completely fails to address the costs of healthcare, even the always-wealthy United States finds itself broke.


Still, we have politics and our 24-7 news coverage, working for self aggrandizement and, in the case of the news, high ratings standing in the way of what needs to happen.


We still, in the end, need to pay the bills.


How much money is wasted every day paying people in Washington to act for political gain rather than to benefit the country? There is waste throughout government just waiting to be addressed.  There must be logical thinking out there somewhere. We need defense, a social safety net for the helpless, some national standards for food, education, business practices, health care practices, basic transportation, national security, and freedom.


The government has taken over personal choices such as retirement savings and healthcare for the elderly; and now they’ve spent the money. We have many, especially government, employees who went to work every day without accomplishing anything special, retiring young with pensions far above the median salaries of currently working people. There are people, again mostly in the public sector, who can retire at 50 and get free medical care for the rest of their lives.


Guess who is paying for it. And guess who has spent the money, so we can no longer afford to keep the promises made.


Take a breath and repeat after me the healing sound of “Om,” before your blood pressure causes a stroke.


In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R) is not, as most of the news would have you think, attempting to do away with all collective bargaining for unionized state employees, but only their right to bargain for benefits. If he succeeds, it would help solve not only the immediate budget balancing Wisconsin needs, but also give the state a better long-term shot at fiscal stability.


Here in Frederick, we are experiencing our own pain as the Board of County Commissioners and the Frederick County Board of Education we elected to balance the budget and save us from financial ruin do their jobs.


We have lots of complaints, from their choices to their timing, to how they hold their meetings. They haven’t called every play perfectly, but they are doing the job we elected them to do. They are doing the job that prior misspending and poor judgment here, and throughout the world, caused.


They are paying the bills. It’s never fun, but someone has to do it.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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