Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hamsters, Middle America and the Economy

Have you ever watched a hamster running in one of those wire wheels in it’s cage? The faster it runs, the faster the wheel spins. But no matter how fast that hamster runs, it never gets anywhere. Finally, exhausted, it quits running and gets out of the wheel. It does this day after day thinking it will get somewhere but always ends up in the same place.

That is how “middle America, main street America, blue collar workers”, feel today. We’re like the hamster spinning the wheel and the wheel keeps getting bigger. Our expectations aren’t high anymore, we aren’t even hoping to get ahead, we’d just like to break even, not continue falling behind. Wages are stagnant, worker benefits declining, pension plans disappearing, 401k’s at risk on the stock market, medical benefits escalating, home foreclosures increasing, the national debt growing as we continue spinning the wheel.

We’re worried, discouraged, exhausted; we’re falling behind as we watch record profits for corporations with huge executive pay packages. When companies fail, executives receive unjustified compensation packages. Senator Ben Nelson on 9/10/08, reported the fired CEO’s of Fannie Mae, Daniel Mudd, and of Freddie Mac, Richard Syron, “According to news reports, the two CEOs of the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation who oversaw the firms in the time that led to a taxpayer-funded rescue and federal takeover could receive $24 million in pay, bonuses and benefits.” Middle America does understand this, we just keep spinning that wheel.

When Lehman filed bankruptcy, Senator McCain announced “the fundamentals of the economy are still strong” and we should appoint a “commission” to study the failing lending institutions. But time ran out in the course of days and now we are bailing out even more institutions at a cost of $700 billion dollars. Middle America does not believe the economy is fundamentally strong.

Businesses must be given tax breaks so they will generate businesses and create more jobs. However, workers must receive adequate pay to provide the purchase power to support the businesses created. Corporate America has become accustomed to a “spending” middle America. However, according to Diane Stafford, The Kansas City Star, 9/08, “The 15th annual report, Executive Excess 2008: How Average Taxpayers Subsidize Runaway Pay, criticizes five tax loopholes that Congress has looked at but not plugged. The authors note that the compensation of the S&P 500 CEOs in 2007 averaged 344 times the average U.S. worker’s pay. Thirty years ago, the ratio was about 35 to 1.” To quote Senator Obama, “enough is enough.” Middle America has run out of spending money.

When asked whether the Obama tax plan is a form of redistribution of wealth, Senator Biden said “yes it is, so what!” Tax regulations have always redistributed the wealth in this country. With the econony in distress, unemployment rising, wages dropping, it is obvious that the current wealth redistribution plan is not effective, we need change and we need it now. This election affords you the opportunity to select a President who will effect change to bolster the economy. As voters, assess carefully the information presented and just as carefully, vote. The hamster enjoys spinning that wheel, middle America does not.

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