Thursday, October 10, 2013

Can You Feel It?

The news and social media outlets are all abuzz with the latest developments (or lack thereof) and implications of the recent government shut down.  It has an impact on your personal life in some degree, but to what extent may be contingent upon your career, economic station and receipt of government subsidized services.  For the women on the WIC program, which is a program that provides vouchers for formula and baby needs, the end of the month is going to come very quickly and abruptly if those vouchers stop being issued.  If you are a government employee that is labeled "non-essential" then you may be furloughed currently and waiting on being called back to work.  However, for the majority of Americans, the impacts are felt in far more subtle and potentially further-reaching ways. The impact to our economy's vibrancy and confidence, the impact to our personal liberties and freedoms and the impact to our trust and pride in our government are sure to have lasting implications that reach far beyond the shutdown.

To try and understand the fragile nature of our current economy in a blog post is impossible.  However, we all understand that we just started to gain traction in one of the longest and nastiest recessions our country has ever seen.  Given the relatively young age of our country, I liken this latest recession to our high school years.  Self-assuredness, that most would view as "cocky", lots of blemishes masked by layers of political "make-up" and a complete lack of understanding of how finances work because a real job has yet to be gotten.

Our elected officials and some of our citizens have plunged head-on into careless spending, unfathomable debt and an overinflated self worth that showboats from campaign event to Congress without regard for feeling or common sense.  Does it sound like your teenager? Not a lot of difference and  you know that trying to reason with this arrogance is a futile effort at times.  Now let's all recall those unsightly acne blemishes that were a part of most of our teen years.  Painful and embarrassing but covering them with make-up usually didn't do a stellar job of hiding them, only making them worse.  The same holds true with our current situations.  Let's address debt, let's address voter fraud, let's address social welfare and call it for what it is.  It's ugly, it's painful and it's a sore spot.  However, pretending that adding debt to debt will allow our country to prosper, pretending that voter fraud is somehow race-related or pretending that social welfare programs are not widely abused by able-bodied Americans is going to exacerbate an already raging case of ugliness. Now, let's move on to the "job" situation.  How many times has your teen asked (begged) for money? Sometimes, unreasonable amounts of money or goods are asked for.  As the adult, you can usually step back from the situation, after the major meltdown with said teen, and reason that they have no concept of money because they have never held a real job or career.  This is no different than our government.  They haven't produced anything, typically are far-removed from private sector businesses, large or small, and have no problem spending money and taking money that is not theirs.  When you're a teen, it's tough to understand why your parents just can't see it your way and how bad you need that car, pair of shoes, new phone, etc.  You're crazed with the "wanting" of it to be "in" and "popular."  You'll do anything to get it. Some teens even resort to shoplifting they desire an item so badly.  So does our government. We the people have elected these folks to represent OUR understanding that tough decisions have to be made in the best interest and responsibility of our current financial situations.  We have a budget that takes care of the basics but beyond that they are simply wants which have NO place in the American economy.

When these common-sense core values of the majority of Americans are chipped away, both by small and large amounts, the reasonably aware citizen begins with a mild frustration expressed to friends in conversation and around the office with little commitment to action.  The frustration then builds as they see others feel the same way.  The frustration then turns to situational anger as they see the very personal toll it is having on their finances and life through taxation and forced programs.  What comes next is difficult to say because I believe we as Americans are here.  On the cusp of a rolling anger due to the clear fact that we've been justified in knowing that we now have tough choices to make.  How far does this go? How determined are we to make sure our elected officials know what happens outside of the beltway?  The sounds of freedom are rumbling like a storm on the horizon and stepping up to battle the winds of change. The resilience and ingenuity of our citizens have been like no other nation in the world, however, it now stands to be seen if those fibers have continued to be interwoven into the newest of citizens and our most recent generations.

Much like our teen years; if properly guided through solid leadership and example, we do come out on the other side.  Yes, we have painful memories that we turn to life lessons, and we have scars and losses that we learned from, but we make it and are better for it.  For those who don't have the guidance, guardrails and guidelines needed to weather those difficult years, we've seen the outcome too. Enabled, entitled and dejected individuals who are angry and don't know why.  But for those that made it, we know why. We know that through the nasty feelings, the poor decisions, the temper-tantrums and the heartbreaks, that someone in our lives cared enough to make the tough decisions and to lead the way to teaching us independence.  It is in that independence of both our personal adulthood and our country's, in which we establish value, hard work and earned success, therefore freeing us from a lifelong resentment of failure and regret.