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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Solutions wanted

Middle class people living here in Central Jersey are faced with an ever-rising tide of rising costs and damaging expenses that threatens to sweep the vast majority right off their feet.

This much is clear to me, after making trips today to Mercer County gas stations and grocery stores, and reading every local newspaper report detailing price hikes and looming energy price increases that portend an even worse time down the road.

What exactly are our elected officials, or better yet, the powerful and the rich, doing to address this economic chaos that threatens the very way of life for the average person living in Central Jersey and greater America? And what of the plight of all New Jerseyans who already face the highest property taxes and a high cost of living?

Gov. Jon S. Corzine and both parties in the state legislature have done little to provide any sort of comprehensive relief from any of these problems, which bodes poorly for anyone relying on these characters to provide governmental relief from the present and worsening economic crisis.

It bears asking why public officials have not slashed the size of government and eliminated unnecessary services, and pursued better mass transit and comprehensive tax relief at whatever cost, before taxes and transportation-related energy costs combine to drive every last person out of New Jersey. The difficult options, policies, and choices that could provide relief, albeit in a painful way, need to be explored and possibly instituted, regardless of political fallout or possible uproar.

Also, we as a people need to watch the actions of these people and others in positions of power carefully in these trying times, as any sign of complacency, indifference, or plain laziness in concretely addressing these dire problems is a sure sign of a need of replacement, at the next suitable election.

Those living in great power or wealth, or both, tend to ignore the problems of the average or lesser person, but all of the trouble the average people are going through will surely translate into problems for the wealthy and powerful.

People need to get away from handling problems with an "out sight, out of mind" attitude and join together to make those tough choices necessary to bring everyone out of this time of troubles unscathed.


Nicholas Stewart said...

I quite agree with your analysis of the predicament facing New Jerseyans and the majority of your solutions. Smaller government, I believe, would reduce or, at least, contain the current tax burden.

There are plenty of things individuals can do to ease some of the current economic pressures most Americans are facing.

I am often surprised by people's unwillingness to make their lives easier. Their reason is usually because they view the things that they enjoy as rights and not luxury. A car is actually not a right. It is a luxury. Air conditioning is not a right. It is a luxury. Coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, all luxuries. Sugar, Gap, TGI Friday, shit, McDonald's to some - all luxuries.

My point is: take a look at your life and attempt to reduce the cost yourself. Stop waiting and calling on the government to do it for you. I don't want the government to use the taxes taken out of my paycheck to help people pay their bills. Because if that is what they are gong to do with it, they might as well let me keep it so I can pay my own.

Irving Bertrand Clean said...

While Greg's analysis is, as per usual, well thought out and articulated, Nick hit the nail on head with one word: Shit.

He's absolutely spot on - How many of these problems do we willingly impose upon ourselves? More than we're willing to admit, my friends.

Look back even twenty years, and just try to grasp the SHIT that was an indulgence for the wealthy; SHIT that has since become an entitlement for most - the wherewithal to actually... you know, PAY for said SHIT be damned.

How much more SHIT do we need, people? Last time I checked, my life has gone rather smoothly - all this without a 3,000 sq ft dwelling (used to house a WHOLE FOUR PEOPLE!), a new car every four years (or less!), semi-annual vacations, GPS navigation, ten restaurant visits per week, a phone that lets me check my email while ordering groceries from Whole Food$ Market, weekly shopping benders at the mall, and an ill-advised mortgage on which I'm one missed paycheck away from defaulting.

While a convenient bete noire, four-dollar gas is not the cause of all our problems, kids. It's a (hopefully) temporary bit of unpleasantness imposed on us by those pesky laws of supply and demand.

If Pain at the Pump(TM) is somehow breaking you, you need to take a cold, harshly critical look at your relationship with money, and more importantly, your relationship with SHIT. I'm no poster boy for fiscal responsibility, but was amazed at the raise I was able to give myself by honestly assessing where my money is going, and taking the ax to a lot of the fat (a.k.a. SHIT).

Cut the SHIT, people.

Greg Forester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg Forester said...

With all due respect, the problems confronting people now are going to have horrible consequences that will blow any personal cost-cutting measures right out of the water in a few months, when they get worse.

There is surely some truth to the whole Republican "fix it yourself" attitude, but not to an extreme. Government and those in power need to do something.

Small band-aid solutions in the household may save a little pocket change here and there, but these problems threaten to get worse and worse to the point that across-the-board difficult solutions need to be vetted by the government.

I think this "do it yourself" attitude was what the administrations prior to that of FDR espoused to defeat the Great Depression, and look what they did.

Irving Bertrand Clean said...

My rather long-winded rant might have given one the impression that:

1. I am a Republican... Ew, that's just gross.

2. I feel the answer to this mess rests 100% on the shoulders of the people who need to fix their own messes. Of course I don't feel this to be the case, though I stand by my examples of how thoroughly and irresponsibly wasteful way too many of us are in our day-to-day lives.

There is no single right answer; beyond that, there are no decent answers that are merely Byzantine in their simplicity. I’m willing to admit when the big picture is beyond my comprehension.

What I DO know, however, is that government is wasteful on a scale that makes an absolute mockery of anyone who does the right thing in order to make ends meet. Who of us wouldn’t be living under a freakin’ bridge after just a few months of managing our finances they way they do at City Hall, the State House, and Capitol Hill?

So, does this pressing need for government to Do Something result in an even larger government, or is it simply a process of getting rid of the waste and replacing it with functions that would (allegedly) make life easier on all of us? Color me cynical, but I think we all know the answer to this.

Taking the chainsaw to this wasteful government is an idea whose time has been here for way too long. However, in a state whose population is disproportionately composed of (mostly) hardworking folks who depend on this same government (at all levels) for their livelihood, and whose elected representatives would likely face dire political consequences in the wake of any meaningful change… seriously, where do we go from here?

Thanks for creating a forum for some interesting dialogue on a very important subject.

Greg Forester said...

I was painting as typically Republican the idea that people need to take care of themselves, not anyone posting here.

Government is obviously an imperfect instrument, but it doesn;t have to be.

Why not put the effort being put into doing something yourself into organizing, and getting a bunch of equally angry people together, and take it from there, and start changing things.

It's been pretty easy to do here in "T-Town" it can be done elsewhere.

A big government that actually works is better than an even larger one that doesn't work and is full of rich, powerful folks who don't do a good job because they don't care.

Irving Bertrand Clean said...

First... oh my, I'm so sensitive! What's wrong with me?!?

Second... amen, dude.