Diminished by Even One

Albert Einstein: Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.

All over the news outlets for the past several decades, we have seen the troublesome times in which we live. In some instances, we have been subjected to it ad nauseum. It can be sad, depressing, and disheartening, especially when people are suffering due only to circumstances beyond their control, such as those displaced by a decimated career field or a “downsizing.” Here, I state what I see and claim no miracles. This article is very limited and there are several other factors that will not be addressed.

The information is so inconsistent, which is another piece of the puzzle. In the state in which I live, as well as several others, (don’t fret if you haven’t experienced this yet-they’ll get to you) one can be bombarded with differing opinions on which politician knows how to bring jobs back to the region. Except, they ALL are claiming that! It doesn’t cost a thing to “claim.” They don’t even have to produce any substantial data. Yet, some of the data seems to represent politicians who may or may not be business people, besides, actually causing the closing of businesses and significant loss of employment (or turning a blind eye). Usually, these “business decisions” result in John and Joann Q. Public making the (forced) sacrifice so that the business person can avoid any significant fallout I don’t see too many poor politicians running around. I’ve not heard of any taking 20-40% pay cuts, although I do know of several non-government employees who have had to do just that.

Unions can influence these times with refusal to bargain; however, it appears the unions have, indeed, made some sacrifices. We know unions also have had some history of victories for their members. What unions are not responsible for, however, is a shrinking population since the 1940s.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov), total family sizes have slowly decreased over the years since 1940. Those born to the WWII era parents, today’s baby boomers, are ages 39-early 70s. Those in their 60s and 70s now are preparing to retire. The boomers had fewer children than their ancestors, which then results in fewer people to contribute to Social Security and Medicare taxes, as well as all other tax caches. It is a matter of simple and basic mathematics. We see the greatest number of “children” (post WWII era) coming to retirement age with a slowly declining family size base. This is one factor.

Anytime the nation has inflated unemployment, there also will be fewer tax dollars to spread around. That we can call factor number two. Combine just these two factors and we have a national crunch.

To complicate matters, further, we have a population returning from war during a time of significant recession. Another straw on the available monies camel’s back, or factor three. I support the consideration of our veterans, but they are returning to fewer opportunities than perhaps when they left. While it may be a plus that any particular war is winding down, the result is that someone employed by the US government soon will not have that particular job. How much time between ending one and beginning the next is anyone’s guess. Many veterans who suffered severe traumatic brain injuries or PTSD may not be able to contribute to a work force, and not of their own doing. Does anyone else see a developing “perfect storm”?

We are left with far more questions than answers, at least at this point. What I hate to see are those who then decide to attack the very poor. Certainly, I do not refer to loafers and system abusers. Personally, I do think it is reasonable to require social program recipients to have to be screened for illegal drugs. If someone is unfortunate enough to have a substance addiction, then let’s see if we can get support for recovery. I would rather see financial support going toward the rehabilitation facilities than simply handouts to people who have no intention of becoming an honest tax payer. Approximately 20-25 years ago, some states adopted a “workfare” system. One was required to be going to school at least part-time or to be working part-time in order to receive some assistance. Failure to comply resulted in disabling the offender to receive any monetary assistance, while allowing dependent children to remain with assistance. What happened? I’m unaware if that program still is in place. Did people decide they could stretch that food and/or monetary allowance enough to cover the loss of funds? Is it a matter of lack of enforcement?

I would ask us to keep in mind that there are those who progress to complete their education and obtain employment. They go on to be responsible contributors. They, however, are not the squeaky wheels. They are too busy juggling job, children, and all the details in making and maintaining a place to live. Of late, they now may be being asked to pursue “more or alternate education” to replace one eliminated through no fault of their own.

On the other end of the scale, we have those who would indiscriminately end all assistance of any type for any situation. I will not elaborate on the foolishness of that swing of the pendulum, save to say if those people lose their jobs, and have children they cannot feed adequately; I’ll suggest their eyes would be opened at about the speed of light.

While the answers to our social and financial woes are more complex and beyond my simple understanding, I can have enough wisdom to know that blaming any one particular political party is without merit. Unemployment has been with us for many decades and through several different controlling parties. Perhaps it goes beyond any one political party to a broken system; a culture of political and business dishonesty and radically unfair tax assessments on one end of the scale and then the something-for-nothing crowd on the opposite end. Whatever the answers may be, they definitely will not come without pain and sacrifice. We should revolt against both excesses within the boundaries of the law.

In the meanwhile, we can hope that America’s people do not further  fall into despondency and complacency. We must not engage in unproductive and dangerous class wars. We have the responsibility to keep trying. The future of any nation depends upon the resiliency and honest determination of its people. We need to take a stand in our own, individual lives for fairness and equality. We need to rid ourselves of the never-ending entitlement personality, as well as the unfair record-setting profit folks who are prospering due to the blood, sweat, and tears of the working class, which has undergone a shrinking.

Now more than ever in recent memory, we need to pull together rather than apart. We need to prove to the world that the Greatest Generation did, and does, not pass in vain. We need not only to learn “from” their lessons, but to carry them forward. To survive, we all need to do our best, not our worst. We are, most certainly, all in this together.

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~ by saginawrobin on April 3, 2012.

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