What's That Smell?

In case you were not aware, the economy is not in good shape.

Let me rephrase that. If the American economy were analogized in rural terms, it is what gets left from the south end of a northbound horse. Only the American economy doesn’t smell quite that good.

The sad thing is that nobody with any reasonable level of influence seems to know what to do about it. The infuriating thing is that those same people try to tell me and every other common man and woman that we just don’t understand the “ins and outs” of the United States economy; it’s above the capacity of our feeble minds.

Sounds like a few Congressmen have been hanging around the south end of that horse again.

If my count is correct, I have taken something like seven or eight college and graduate level economics classes. I’m not necessarily the most brilliant bulb in the box, but I can draw a supply and demand chart and balance a checkbook. I think I’m intelligent enough to understand that the economic situation of this country has a Hollywood equivalent in the Affleck-Lopez bomb Gigli, and I’m beyond ticked off about it.

That’s right. I’m madder than hell, and I think I have good reason to be:
  • The inhabitants of the houses of Congress cannot relate to me, nor to 99% of the rest of the country. I don’t necessarily need them to per se, but I do need them to appreciate that fact. I live in the real world, and I don’t have the chance to play around with other people’s money. Just because they have that opportunity does not make them economic whizzes. It just means that any mistake they make is going to be felt by a whole lot of people. (Yes, they’re called “voters” Madam Senator.)
  • Politicians think I am stupid. They say things like, “I am committed to significant deficit reduction,” and expect me to throw a parade in their honor. OK, Mr. Man-of-the-People, let’s think really hard about what you’re saying. “Deficit” is the difference between income and expenses; that is, how much more you and your rich, better-than-thou buddies in the Senate and House spend than is taken in through taxes. “Debt” on the other hand is how much we as a nation owe because you and your rich, better-than-thou buddies don’t know how to operate with zero deficit. So if we really sniff the manure you are shoveling, you don’t necessarily want to reduce what we owe to Red China, you simply want to slow down how quickly we run the tab up. For that, I thank you, because it makes it really easy for me to decide for whom to cast my vote.
  • Speaking of stupid, let’s talk for a minute about the Internal Revenue Service. For the most part, the IRS is charged with the responsibility for properly taxing the American people in order to provide lifeblood for governmental spending. Noble cause, right? Sure, except that I think I’ve met families of orangutans which seem to have better collective math skills than the IRS. My latest peeve is this commercial which opens up with a young couple praising the deeds of some debt negotiation service, “We owed more than $40,000 to the IRS, but we settled our debt for only $800.” Pardon me? If the income arm of the federal government does not have the sense that the Good Lord gave a goose and would forgive more than $39,000 to a single couple, no wonder our national economy is worthy of garden fertilizer.
  • Every time the federal government has tried to interject itself into control of the national (and now global) economy, the result has been pretty miserable. In reality, a true free market economy is completely self-correcting. If you don’t want to pay the price for a particular product or service, don’t buy it. If enough people feel the same way, the producer will end up with surplus and will be forced to drop the price. Simple enough.
I do not have a specific solution for our current economic misery, but I am quite confident that the answer is not located on Capitol Hill. For that matter, I doubt you would find much satisfaction in Washington, D.C. I do believe, however, that the backbone of the American economy, though weakened, is still very much intact. It’s in the hands of doctors and accountants, engineers and mechanics, custodians and cashiers. It’s in places like Opelika, Alabama; Mexia, Texas; and Morristown, New Jersey.

The solution is in the working man’s dollar, stored in the working man’s pocket. It is a dollar earned, not gifted. It is a dollar covered in dirt and sweat. It is a dollar worn thin from rubbing through the course of a hard life’s work. Yeah, that dollar smells a little bit.

But not nearly as rank as the economy that needs it so badly.


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