- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

One of the most fascinating aspects of the ongoing budget debates in Wisconsin is the delineation of political ideologies. Rarely have I seen it as clearly defined as it is in Madison, but this is just the start, as more states are likely to propose similar legislation soon.

Conservative Republicans are at a loss as to why their counterparts do not seem to grasp the significance of budget deficits. Liberal Democrats claim the Republicans are putting the burden unfairly on the backs of the working class as opposed to the rich and corporations. Both sides adamantly defend their opinions, hence the confrontational demonstrations in Wisconsin with neither side budging.

Both sides are speaking but nobody is listening. We’re at loggerheads, a stalemate that could remain in effect for several years to come. Democrats urge raising taxes on the rich while Republicans contend spending less and lowering taxes will be a more effective solution. Sound familiar? That’s because these incompatible philosophies haven’t changed for a long time. However, it is now time to pay the piper and neither side can agree on the best approach to do so.

Despite the political spin of the media, we cannot ignore the fact that our state and federal governments are going broke. This is caused simply by spending more than we take in. As we all should know, the golden rule for profitability is simply to cut expenses and raise income. Obviously, governments have to cut spending, which means all of the perks we have grown accustomed to may very well disappear. Hard and painful decisions will undoubtedly have to be made.

There are those who believe the rich will not share their wealth. First of all, under the free-enterprise system, if you assume risk, you are entitled to enjoy the bounty resulting from your efforts. Second, the reality is that the rich already share their wealth by creating jobs and opportunities through their investments.

As for corporate taxes, businesses should pay their fair share, but we cannot saddle companies with a tax burden that stifles employment, capital improvements and research and development. The economy stagnates when this happens. Instead of heaping on taxes that will cause companies to tighten their belts, tax incentives encourage companies to expand their operations.

My generation, the baby boomer generation, is going to have to work longer than our predecessors just to make ends meet. As such, retirement is now regarded more as a luxury than a right. The fact is, the American way of life is deteriorating - whether we want to admit it or not. For example, our standard of living has dropped over the past few years, our trade deficit has grown and we have become a service-oriented country. This does not bode well for us.

The United States still has a substantial middle class, which has been a powerful engine moving the world’s economy. But when this engine runs out of fuel, everything will come to a halt. Those who have a sense of entitlement will have the hardest time adjusting to any form of government spending cuts as they believe it is their God-given right to be cared for, whether they earned it or not. Inevitably, they will rebel and create a fuss with considerable fanfare. Nonetheless, when your business starts running on red ink, it is time to make changes.

PAUL BLOUSTEIN

Cincinnati


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