Lee S. Wishing, III

Families have to tighten their belts to stay afloat. For example, last year, our family spent an average of $6.53 per person per day on food. Our 2014 target is $5.55. We’ve also put our four teenagers on a budget. Rather than pay for their clothes and extras like an occasional movie or McDonald’s, we’re giving them a monthly allowance and incentives to earn more through a list of chores. They’ll decide how to spend their money—clothes, fun, whatever, it’s up to them. This will help mom and dad stay on budget in 2014 while teaching our kids to manage money.

Now, consider the state of the U.S. economy. Some important facts: one in seven Americans is receiving food stamps; the unemployment rate that includes long-term discouraged workers has climbed steadily to over 20 percent, even though the official rate has fallen to seven percent; Obamacare continues to cause businesses to hold off on hiring and expanding; trillion-dollar deficits are the new normal; inflation calculated the way it was in 1980 is more than nine percent (not the two percent currently being reported); and the Federal Reserve is doubling down on the monetary blunders that led to the 2008 crash and the Great Recession.

That is the truth about America today. We have to come to grips with the reality that, as our 40th president was fond of saying, “Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.” I’d like to add that “We the people” are in charge of our government.

So, let’s return to my daughter’s question. Will we experience a depression in my lifetime or hers?

“Absolutely,” I told her, “if our federal government doesn’t change its ways.” But, there’s hope. There’s always hope. One way to turn America in the right direction is to tell our kids the truth about what they face. After all, my daughter will be voting in two years.

Lee S. Wishing, III

Lee Wishing is administrative director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

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