Let's face it, if your contentment level is tied to your 401(K), you're probably not feeling too good right now. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped precipitously, job numbers are weak, consumer spending is down, and we may be on the brink of a double dip recession.
Meanwhile, Washington dithers and finger pointing abounds. The President blames the Congress, the Democrats blame the Republicans, the Republicans blame the Democrats, and the media blames the Tea Party – the audacity that these newbies would stand on principle and affirm their campaign promises to actually cut spending!
Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around. Washington is broken and may already be beyond repair. Our leaders appear to have run the Ship of State aground, and it remains to be seen whether disaster can be averted. But it's not like we couldn't see it coming. We are $14 trillion in the hole for crying out loud, and the spending addicts in the Congress just raised the debt limit! Pursuit of the common good has gone by the boards and the politicians in the Federal City continue to take Main Street's money and use it to feather their political nests.
The Dems have tried to perpetuate their power by redistributing the wealth and endearing themselves to a consortium of voter groups which is, hopefully, big enough to return them to office. The Republicans, despite their claims to the contrary, have done pretty much the same – just with different groups. Mitch McConnell and Company's recent reincarnation as "born again budget cutters" isn't convincing. (The Bush budgets aren't that distant a memory). In both cases, the parties' largesse has come from the taxpayers who in the present economy are finding it difficult to come up with enough money to satisfy the spending appetites of their representatives. Nevertheless, the spendaholics continue squeezing the turnip in an effort to extract still more revenue, and are shocked – positively shocked – that the country finds itself in this predicament.
Well what on earth did they think was going to happen? When you continually spend more than you take in and refuse to change your ways, disaster is inevitable. At some point the well will run dry, but the bills still have to be paid. And when they aren't, your credit rating suffers and your sources of revenue dry up. You reach the point where you are forced to make adjustments. It's not that complicated.
For years, our government appears to have been in denial about the natural laws of money and finance. The concept of natural law has largely fallen out of vogue in a society that embraces chaos theory and legal positivism. But denying that natural laws exist doesn't suspend their effect. You can deny the law of gravity, but if you jump off the Empire State building you will soon discover that your personal opinions about the matter are irrelevant.
One natural law that operates in all arenas is "that which a man sows, he will also reap." In the financial realm, that means if you sow profligacy, you reap poverty. No amount of rhetoric or blame shifting will change that.
So hang on. It's looks like we're in for a bumpy ride.
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