We started out the week with some lively discussions on the economy and what are some possible scenarios to get out of our economic depression. We can all point fingers as to what and who got us into this mess, but the short answer is; we did it to ourselves.

We started out the week with some lively discussions on the economy and what are some possible scenarios to get out of our economic depression. We can all point fingers as to what and who got us into this mess, but the short answer is; we did it to ourselves.

In years gone by, we were taught economics in high school. Although these classes were relatively simple, they gave us a basic understanding of day to day economics. Some of what we were taught was so simple that it’s hard to imagine someone not getting an understanding of the lessons. Stuff like saving 10 percent of what you earn, making sure you had a down payment before making a major purchase like a car or a house, knowing what percent of a paycheck could go for rent or purchase of a home, knowing how much interest you were paying and having a good plan for reducing your debt, and waiting to buy something until you could afford it.

We don’t do that with our personal finances, our state finances or most importantly, our country’s finances! Until we come to our senses and start living within our means like our parents and their parents did, we can expect to find ourselves progressively worse off. I heard an excellent explanation of why small businesses are not growing. A business owner is facing almost certain tax increases, additional punitive regulations, and increased health care costs.

Small business owners aren’t radical right wing idiots, they are mildly conservative, and have to be in order to survive in the competitive marketplace. They are not about to invest their savings and borrow against their assets in order to pay for a business expansion unless they are pretty sure they can get a decent return on that investment. In addition to the other worries that are facing them, we are almost assured there is going to be more bailouts in the near future. I’ve said all that in order to say this: no matter what your political affiliation is, find out where the candidates stand on fiscal responsibility. We cannot afford as a nation to continue spending resources that we do not have. We absolutely have to create a business climate that will encourage growth because growth means jobs and jobs will solve the economic woes we are facing. This absolutely does not mean that we should neglect our obligations to Social Security or other social programs that have been promised. What it does mean is that we should make sure our elected officials do not give those entitlements to those who did not earn and do not deserve them! Inform yourself about the candidates and where they stand on these issues. Check out their past voting records, see how the business publications rate them, find out if what they are saying is what they have actually done in the past. Only by finding out for ourselves and not letting the media lead us to false conclusions will we be able to pick candidates who will help get us out of this mess. Wow, I really got on my soapbox huh?

We were in Jeff City for an interim meeting on local governance. Most of what is being looked at is pertaining to the St. Louis area. In St. Louis County, there are nearly 90 incorporated cities and towns. Many years ago, they got together and agreed to a 1-cent county tax to be divided evenly among all the different cities. Now there are some that have a population of several thousand and some with as few as 50 or 60. Now they want the state to get the mess cleaned up. I don’t even know where they will start but it’s sure going to be interesting! We also had an organizational meeting for the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. We elected Sen. Schaefer as the chairman and I will be the vice chair.
We are going to meet again about the middle of October and by that time all 14 members will have had a chance to interview children’s service workers and law enforcement officers about their experiences. By the time we begin session, we hope to be working on some new laws to help solve some of the current problems.

We attended the McDonald County Republican Club meeting Thursday evening and were served a great meal. There were several local candidates present and there were also representatives for the statewide offices. Bill Dobbs started making announcements of upcoming events and I’ll bet there were 15 pie auctions coming up. Somebody is going to open a pie shop for politicians and we can just buy direct!

Friday evening we attended the school carnival at Goodman. No pie auction but a great silent auction. The high point was the principal getting in the dunk tank! There was some talk of “letting” me participate in the dunk tank festivity but I was able to convince myself not to.

Saturday was Newtonia’s Sesquicentennial celebration. There were many activities planned but the ham and bean lunch was by far the best! The Civil War re- enactments are always great and all the kids really enjoy getting a dose of history this way!        

Finally, I want to visit a minute about the proposed closing of the Seneca Library. The Neosho-Newton County Library Board placed a question on the ballot for a tax increase to expand the Neosho Library. Unfortunately, the issue was soundly defeated. Now it seems as if they wish to close the Seneca Library to save an estimated $70,000 a year in salaries, rent, and utilities. I’m all for saving tax dollars, but in August (a very slow library month) there were 2,600 transactions.

Remember, there are two assisted living centers in Seneca and it’s a long drive to Neosho. The students at the alternative school downtown also use the facility for access to computers. Around 4 p.m. daily there is a real rush of Seneca school children that show up to check out books. The facility has existed in Seneca since 1935 and it sure seems like there ought to be something we can do to remedy the problem.
Until next week, I am, and remain, in your service.
Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Missouri House of Representatives. Contact him locally at 437-8223 or at his Jefferson City office at (573) 751-9801 or email him at bill.lant@house.mo.gov.