Why is there no discussion or leadership over the root cause of our increasingly troubling yet solvable national financial crisis? We need to enact term limits and campaign finance reform to give leaders the voice they need to tell us the truth-that we need to take some difficult, but not disastrous, steps to right our ship and restructure our national financial system.
The president’s appointed deficit reduction team came forward with some smart and logical ideas, yet now that they need to be voted upon, officials lack the courage to risk their jobs. They know that the surprisingly large portion of our voting population that depends upon the government for a comfortable livelihood will vote personal self-interest over the good of the nation and elect the other candidate who makes the easy promises to sustain programs we can no longer afford.
To me, there seem to be some logical decisions that can bring our long-term costs under control fairly painlessly if we act now. We must make our big entitlement programs sustainable by retiring a little later and forcing individuals to make smart economic choices over a defined, not unlimited, pool of health care dollars. We need to invest a little less in defense and consolidate the bloated number of local governments and service agencies.
Further, we need to shift the focus of social spending and invest a little more in giving our youth a healthy, sustainable start, thereby avoiding the downstream social costs and reducing the high-cost remediation programs that become necessary once these problems have already sapped the spirit of poor children. Finally, if there is still not enough money to get the right things done, we, the more privileged in our society, should be willing to pay a little higher tax rate.
These steps, taken in time to restructure our unsustainable entitlement, social and defense spending, can be done with due process and necessary prudent dialogue and can result in a manageable and fair solution for all. In contrast, failure to have the courage to act will bring radical changes, forced upon us with too little time for logical and clear thinking, when our bondholders wake up and realize we are not going to pay them back.
If we fail to act fairly soon and do not enable our elected officials to do the right thing by removing the temptation that current campaign finance policy allows, it is our grandchildren who will pay our bills for living high in our twilight years on borrowed money.
James Brush is Sentry Group president and CEO.
3/18/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail email@example.com.