This week’s column is an obituary. You see, I am mourning the loss of a great American institution – one that was the cornerstone of what we refer to as American ingenuity and helped build this country. Now the demise was not sudden but rather the patient lingered for decades and grew weaker and weaker without anyone really even realizing that it was dying. All of us will mourn its departure and all of us will suffer because of its absence.
I’m talking about plain old “common sense” and I just don’t see a lot of it anymore in this country. Now, maybe I have pronounced the “death” a little too soon because there are some signs that it is still alive, but not many. I have always heard that common sense wasn’t too common but the last few months have proven that to the point of extreme.
Two things in the news right now have helped me come to this epiphany. First and foremost is the “fiscal cliff” that the nation is facing and because of space limitations, I will most likely have to wait til next week to discuss the second one so just stay tuned.
This fiscal cliff that everyone is now so concerned about has been looming for months – created by our leaders in Washington as a way to ensure that they would have to agree on some solution to prevent it from occurring. Isn’t it sad that there has to be a threat of catastrophe to make that happen?
I said that it has been looming for months but in typical political fashion, nothing is really done until it has to be and folks, that time is way past due. If they don’t reach a compromise by the end of the year then we are all facing potential fiscal Armageddon. So what does this have to do with common sense?
Well, the main focus has been on raising revenues with no real discussion of cutting spending (at least from one side of the fight). Common sense would tell you that you cannot continue to spend more money than you take in and still be fiscally sound. There reaches a point where even the federal government can’t print enough money to get out of debt. But, yet, that is what some propose to do.
I was panned by critics a few months ago when I wrote a column about Social Security being a ponzi scheme. My detractors said that the fund was backed by the federal government and of course the money would be there when it was needed. Are you so sure about that? What happens when the number of Americans getting government assistance outnumbers the ones that are paying for the programs? Doesn’t common sense tell you that at some point in time we can’t sustain that arrangement?
Page 2 of 2 - Now, let me be clear on the issue of Social Security. That program was paid for by the participants and the biggest problem with the system is that the federal government has taken the money set aside for the program, used the funds for other programs and has replaced them with IOU’s that may or may not be good.
But, what about programs like Obamacare which now has no chance of repeal? What happens when we continue to spend money we don’t have with the hopes that miraculously the economy will turn around and Americans will spend more money so the government can get more tax dollars and get out of debt? Do you really believe that under the current administration we will ever see reduced spending?
These are questions that beg to be answered and answered quickly but some people would just rather bury their head in the sand and wish for the best. Common sense would tell you that the time is now but again, where is common sense?
As I thought I would, I have quickly run out of space so I will address the second issue next week. But, as I began writing this column I realized that it would run on Dec. 7, the anniversary of the day when thousands of Americans lost their lives in the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
I cannot in good conscience let the opportunity pass without honoring the memory of those that died and also honor those of our Greatest Generation who fought and sacrificed to preserve our nation. We are rapidly losing that generation and while there are no words that can adequately express our appreciation – that generation sacrificed not for words of thanks but for love of their country. So while thank you seems so little, I know that it means everything to those that gave so much. So, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart as an appreciative American.
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.