Thursday, July 16, 2015

Call Me Old School and a Member of the 'Luckiest Generation' ... Let's Bring Back America's 'Good Old Days' of World Leadership, Economic Prosperity, Good Jobs and National Security

OK. I admit it. I'm the old school type. Excessive debt is a bad thing. Too little economic growth and an economy with a bloated and unproductive public sector is a bad thing. A thriving and growing private sector is a good thing and provides good jobs. A world leading and strong U.S. economy is the only lasting way to assuring a secure nation and a peaceful world. And all 'old school' Americans want that.

I was raised by two non-college educated parents who both worked hard and were children of the Depression and members of the 'Greatest Generation.' That was a good thing for me as I developed a strong aversion to ever experiencing a future economic depression and a healthy regard for being an American --- the nation that saved the world from Hitler and the Nazis in WWII.

My parents encouraged me to get good grades through high school so I could go to college, 'get a good education,' and a good job. They wanted me to have it better than they did.

So I did all those things, and now I'm glad I did. And I graduated debt free, having received scholarships and working part time and summer jobs during my six years of higher education. I guess that makes me part of the 'Luckiest Generation.'

Maybe in reality the 'good old days' weren't all that great, but they weren't all that bad --- especially compared to today's ongoing mess. And that's especially true with respect to debt management at the individual, city, state, national and worldwide levels, one and all.

At the end of WWII, the U.S. was the model of national strength, economic growth, individual opportunity and fiscal responsibility. Alas, those days are gone, but hopefully not forever.

It's not always, if ever, going to be easy, but it is achievable --- attaining individual financial freedom and security, that is.

Being debt free is a good thing. Call me old school.

Financial success requires sacrifice puts it bluntly:

"We have a savings crisis in this country. Much has been written about it, and there are many reasons for it, but the concept of personal sacrifice receives precious little mention. . . .

I recently stumbled on a video of Gene Simmons singing (in WWII video) with our troops the songs that we sang about the troops in those early days. We sang them in our schools and homes.We all knew them by heart and frequently heard them on the radio console, the focal point of our living room.

Patriotism and support of our troops was incredibly important to our teachers, family, friends, Hollywood, and the media — including popular cartoonists like Bill Mauldin, artists like Norman Rockwell and entertainers like Bob Hope. Posters had mottos like "Loose lips sink ships." We all had Victory Gardens and ate Spam and chipped beef for our meat. There were no turkeys at Thanksgiving or Christmas — or at any other time for that matter. The troops deserved those.

The economics of those times were substantially different. We all saved money, even as school children. We could buy 25 cent stamps, which when we had enough, could then buy a $25 war bond. The national savings rate was about 25% of after-tax income compared with 5% today. That's even more impressive when you consider that taxes took far more of everyone's income in that period. . . .

We have reached the point where few people save enough for retirement, pensions are underfunded and the Social Security Trust is rapidly running out or money. Instead of encouraging saving, the government wants us to spend more. Industry agrees and bombards us with advertisements wherever we look.

Our national debt is soaring exponentially. Much of that is owned by foreigners as contrasted with the times of my youth when the national debt was high too — but it was owned by American families through their savings bond purchases. Local governments and the states fare worse now too being burdened with cost-of-living-adjusted pensions with ever growing number of retirees exacerbated by the annual pension increases from inflation adjustments. . . .

We have dug ourselves a financial hole from which no politician has an escape solution. We compounded the problem by our consumerism together with personal and college education debts ....We show little understanding that a small sacrifice now will make a big difference in our lives later.

The time has come for people to emphasize savings and our government to support and encourage it. . . . Individuals have to save 5% to 10% more of their income. Government debt needs more powerful medication. Maybe we need . . . a government with a longer view than the next election."

Summing Up

It's not only Greece that has a financial mess. France, Italy, Portugal and other European countries aren't all that far behind the Greeks. And then there are Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Brazil and so forth. It's a mess.

Nor here in America are our problems confined to places in the news like Puerto Rico, Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan, or Stockton, California. They're everywhere.

The world is awash in debt --- both countries and individuals alike.

Something's gotta give --- and hopefully sooner than later.

The real and lasting road to recovery begins with We the People --- each of us.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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