Protests in Tunisia spread to Egypt, which led to the flight of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and will lead to who knows what type of government in the end. Currently, the military is in control of Egypt -- we think -- and things are largely peaceful.
The protests have since traveled to Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi has vowed not to flee from his country, saying he would prefer to die a martyr. This will not end as Egypt did.
Thousands of miles from the Middle East, all 14 Democratic state senators from Wisconsin have fled to Illinois. They left the cheese state in order to avoid voting on a bill that would force teachers to pay a portion of their retirement and health insurance, as well as restrict collective bargaining.
Some Wisconsin teachers protested the bill earlier this week by calling in sick when they were not.
The Wisconsin lawmakers weren't the only ones who left their state this week for Illinois. So, too, did some of Indiana's Democratic state senators, intent on avoiding a vote on unions.
It does seem like a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
While people in other countries are risking their lives for a say in their future, our elected officials are hiding out in other states.
So far, in Madison, Gov. Scott Walker has held strong -- unwilling to back down and determined to fix his state's budget issues.
His actions are right in line with those of another governor, one who later became president.
"There is not a right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time," then-Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge said in response to a request by labor leader Samuel Gompers to reinstate Boston police who had been fired after striking.
Coolidge went on to cut the number of departments in his state's government from 118 to 18. He believed that every government expenditure should be justified. He understood that the government was entrusted with the people's money and that the less government spent, the more the people would have.
He then ran as vice president to Warren Harding and became president after Harding's death in 1923, when he continued to follow his penurious ways.
Imagine a president who had a budget surplus for every one of six years in office. Each year, the nation's unemployment figure was less than 3.5 percent, and the inflation rate was 1 percent. Imagine a president who stated, "I want taxes to be less so that the people may have more," and understood the idea of economy -- not just how it works, but how to practice it by spending only what is necessary.
When Coolidge was inaugurated as president on March 4, 1925, he noted: "I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the government. Every dollar we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form."
It's not that it's just about the money -- it's about the people who have to pay for the money, whether taxpayers today or taxpayers tomorrow who are saddled paying back money they did not spend. We need to ensure that every taxpayer dollar spent is carefully and thoughtfully spent.
While residents of Middle Eastern and African countries are protesting at great risk to their lives, state Democratic lawmakers are fleeing their jobs, and the United States House and Senate are in recess.
The House worked overnight from Feb. 18 to Feb. 19 to pass an appropriations bill that cut current-year discretionary spending by $61 billion. While this might sound like small change to those of you accustomed to hearing about trillion-dollar debts, every dollar does count because every dollar has to be paid by a taxpayer -- current or future.
When the House and the Senate reconvene next week, the Senate will read President George Washington's farewell address.
In this address, he mentions the importance of the "strength and security of public credit." He notes that in times of peace, we should pay off all debt accumulated in times of war.
May his words fall on fertile ground, and let's hope the state lawmakers get back to work.
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