By Mike McCune
Washington is misreading the mood of the public, not for the first time and most certainly not for the last, but this might be the biggest blunder yet by an Administration and a Congress that has made a habit of imitating a deaf and blind person when it comes to Main Street.
For signs start with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Geithner, who has never met a tax he felt was too harsh, thinks America is not sending enough revenue to Washington. The man who has already misspent more American taxpayer dollars than the annual GDP, said the USA can raise it tax rates “because our revenues make up a much smaller percentage of GDP than those of other countries.” To rebut, the GDP basis the government uses is badly over-stated which means our percentage of actual GDP is higher than that of other countries and sending more money to Washington is not the answer when it cannot control its spending urges–you don’t give a shopaholic an unlimited credit card.
The reason Washington hasn’t balanced the budget is it will not grasp the logic of one. Because of this flaw, the American system is about to collapse under a soaring inflation, particularly in energy. While we still give the appearance of a mature oak, the core (Washington) is rotten and the stiff breeze of rising energy will cause it to topple.
America’s lifeblood is cheap energy. Our entire economy and living style is designed for cheap energy. How else do you explain the sprawling suburbs, 80 to 100 mile one-way job commutes by millions each day, and vast transportation and recreation systems designed to utilize that cheap energy?
But American cities, particularly Washington, are death traps because without cheap energy the bulk of the urban population is doomed to starve. Without cheap energy, the farmer’s production is going to drop severely. Without cheap energy, produce cannot be processed as well or as efficiently. Without cheap energy, produce cannot get to market.
With food at a premium, food riots common around the world will be coming here only in a more panicky form because Americans have never experienced a time of shortage. When wars ravaged Europe, America still ate well. When drought or flood or earthquake or volcano struck, America still ate well because food was imported from the rest of the country on a vast fleet of trucks using cheap oil.
Who will care about somebody else’s housing benefit when their child is starving? Who will care about another person’s problem when they struggle to put food on the table? Who cares about movies or buying clothes or getting a job done when you haven’t enough to eat? How will 308 million live on what can only be produced locally when that production is trimmed?
It is a delicate jugular we have exposed to the rest of the world. Sooner or later some envious outsider or discontented insider will see that and take advantage if rising energy prices aren’t enough by themselves.
Washington continues to play politics with carefully chosen words from a select few on its stage. It continues to impose ever more restrictive rules on how Americans live their daily lives so it can continue to wallow first at the trough. They’ll tell you they care, they’ll tell you they are acting in your best interests and they’ll tell you they “feel your pain.” But how long will that last when they are no longer the fat (literally) cat but are scrambling for food with the common rat? Maybe then those people will be able to hear and see what Americans are saying.
“Michael McCune spent 16 years as a government tax auditor and then operated a consulting/accounting business for 14 years. For 11 years he wrote a biweekly opinion column for the local paper (1981-1992).”