Articles from March 2012

Contingency plan

Good business plans often have a category for contingencies.

Due to our debt crisis, the U.S. has precious little in the way of resources for a contingency.  While we are clearly aware that having a $15 trillion deficit is a big problem, we are being directed away from the urgency of our situation and the need to identify how to address it.

The Congressional Budget Office – which is being revered as our savior, since the Congress’s Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (remember them? last summer’s “Super Committee”?) has failed – may be being given inadequate data and the administration is using their incomplete projections to inspire confidence in its leadership.  It would be criminal if our leaders were doing this intentionally: going forward as if a reasonable solution is at hand, when they know their programs are going to breakdown as soon as they roll out the door.  What would we say about a company that did that?  How long would they be in business?

Even for those who don’t think America necessarily needs to be run as a business, any responsible citizen understands that if an individual incurs debts, they have to pay them off – both in order to maintain a decent credit rating and also to honor one’s obligations.  And most of us who have been around the block know that things happen: emergencies and natural disasters, the furnace fails in the middle of a cold winter, unexpected doctor’s bills or a family member who needs help.  That is when a contingency plan – and the savings to execute it – helps keep things running smoothly.

Due to our debt crisis, the U.S. has almost no buffer left and limited resources for a contingency.  We don’t like to think of our country as being like families who are only one emergency away from losing everything, but we are closer than the media and the administration are willing to tell us.  We would do well to take a serious look at Greece and ask ourselves if we are walking on the same path.  Two years ago, in 2010, Greece’s interest rate on their bonds was roughly 10%.  Last year, their “emergency” resulted in their not having the funds to keep their social programs going, and the country’s interest payments on their bonds had to be bailed out to prevent their losing everything.  The World Bank is still trying to find a feasible method for Greece to work its way back to self-sufficiency, and it will be a long time before they’ll be able to stand on their feet again.

Here in the U.S. – now – we are facing rapid increases in the cost of fuel and other factors outside our control – or so we are told.  We have little buffer left and our country has lost its AAA credit rating.  When we come to the consensus that we must honor our obligations – not only to today’s world but to our grandchildren’s opportunities – and cannot raise the debt ceiling any further, could the U.S. be facing a downward spiral like Greece’s?

We can expect a breakdown here when the government checks stop being issued – and one day, soon, they will stop.  There may be civil unrest in our streets – and if so, will the federal government use the same approach as they did for the “Occupy” movements: that the problem can be dealt with it at local level, because the President supports their right to protest, and the local governments just need to pay the police overtime?

Local emergency preparedness only goes so far.  This is not doomsday, it’s very recoverable – but we may be faced with outages.  During the depth of its energy crisis ten years ago, California had rolling power black-outs.  Will we be seeing welfare outages, unemployment outages, and police and fire protection outages?

What we truly need NOW is leadership. The Community Organizer in Chief who is in the spotlight for personally calling to console the individuals impacted by local crises seems to prefer to redirect the U.S. citizens away from these national matters. Based on our past experience, one would expect the current administration to throw up their hands and exclaim “It’s out of our control,” that the CBO’s projections didn’t show this.  In an emergency, people are looking for a reasonable leader, not emotional reassurance.  We need to know that our leaders are working on a solution, not falling back on excuses and fear. We need reasonable leadership that provides a sound basis and a plan for dealing with the emergency, and identifying the contingencies.

Is our current leadership too busy defending the problem to understand and correct this dire situation – because the corrections would go against the policies it has put in place?  We need a leader who has the energy to produce results outside of these downward-focused policies, who has a good business plan and can prepare for contingencies that keep us from losing everything.  Most community organizers work off government grants and contributed funds, but as a country, the U.S. does not work that way.  Regardless of how much money is printed, the current policies have not worked and will not work to get us past this emergency.  As with individuals in a debt emergency, we need to take away the government’s proverbial plastic and tell it to stop spending money it doesn’t have.

Benjamin Franklin said: Make poverty easy, you will make more it.  But that is not a contingency that America wants to look forward to.

Courage and Tenacity

What does it take to go against the odds?  What kind of risk would you take to defend your family and your country?

We have heard many stories about bravery in battle, and those who have protected others during disasters, we applaud the heroes and their achievements – and then check Facebook?  What will it take for us today to recognize how threatened is what we believe America stands for, and what are we willing to do about it?

Worse than the fluctuations of the worldwide economy is the undermining of what America stands for, the gradual slipping away from everything we have fought to uphold in the Constitution that defines it.  This change has been intentional, each foray made in the name of “progress”, but it has led us into dangerous waters.  Do we have the courage to stop and reset our bearings?

In the eyes of the world, America is a beacon of light, and they look to the U.S. for hope, freedom, and justice.  As a country, although we are not perfect, we represent what is good. Yet the current administration makes choices that suggest we should be like Europe: that what America wants is government-provided health care, unemployment for life, and elitists above the law – elite families who maintain leadership because of family and connections, with the least amount of opportunity for success for the common man.

Meanwhile, European countries feel that they should be more like what they believe America is.  They have had enough of excessive social programs and unaccountability in government, and want the freedom that the U.S. used to have: freedom of choice, career, to choose your own destiny.  The freedom to succeed or fail.  The rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – rights that in America are protected by the Constitution.

However, you do not have a right for tomorrow – that is not guaranteed.  So you need to act today.

You cannot lead when you are following.  The current administration is mistaken in assuming that we want to follow Europe.  It is not learning from the weaknesses of these countries in Europe that they envy the most – which are the same countries that obviously depend on the U.S. to be the beacon of freedom and leadership in the world.  If the U.S. is perceived as being weak and indecisive, the world responds with challengers – challengers that see an opportunity when a beacon of hope and freedom is perceived as being weak.

The world wants a strong America.  The world wants an America they can depend on – in times of progress and in the desperate times of crisis.  Yet in recent times, as we have seen increasing challenges around the world, we have also seen our elected representatives and leaders more and more frequently apologizing instead of leading.  And instead of finding the causes of those errors that lead to apologies and correcting them, our leaders appear to be looking for more liabilities.  Could we assume they are more concerned about their legacy than they are about your well-being and that of the Constitution, the country, and the world?

What will it take to correct our course, and are we willing to take the risks involved to do it?   This is not something that can be done in the commercial break between television programs. The American people are not too stupid to understand the problems we are confronted with, and we don’t need the government to adjust the information.  We have shown in the past that we, the people, do know how it is, and we need to know how it really is so we can get behind it and fix it.  Get involved – in person, online, or talking with your neighbors.  It will require our commitment and tenacity. And with it, conservative leadership can correct our direction, support our Constitution, and help us regain a position of strength and dependability – for ourselves and for the world.

What we need is to believe that we truly are the beacon of light in the world.  Everybody needs hope, everybody needs a belief that if something goes terribly wrong, that there is somebody out there strong enough to help, and willing to help.  Now it is time to correct our course.

Be About It.