Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Praying Instead of Doing

I’ve no problem with prayer. I have no problem with those of faith — so long as they leave those who don’t believe as they do alone. What I do have a problem with is when people fall back on prayer as the means to an end instead of getting off their sorry asses and doing something about the predicament they’re in.

With the financial/economic fiasco in the US I had hoped to hear concrete solutions to solving their problems, along the lines of what Chretien and Martin did in the mid-90s here in Canada. Namely, raise taxes and cut spending while also shoring up various social programs that are necessary. That pain we went through in the 90s has done us well. Sadly, we should have sucked up the pain a bit more and dropped the entire set of surpluses onto the debt. From 199x to 2009 we were in surplus. Had we dumped those surpluses onto the debt we’d be so much better off. I just wish people would realize that paying off the debt is equivalent to a huge future tax cut. The sooner we get rid of the debt the sooner we get all that money spent servicing it back to do something truly useful. We had about $90B in total surpluses from 1997 – 2009. Throw in the extra spending and that would have ballooned to $150 – 200B according to some analysts. Had we knocked $200B off our debt by 2009 it would have dramatically increased revenue available to the feds as that would have been at least 1/3rd if not 1/2 of what was being serviced. And monies no longer spent servicing the debt could have been used to further pay down the debt or to backstop healthcare or the pensions or fix infrastructure.

All that said, as can be seen from recent numbers we’ve spent a bit too much of late. I thought it silly of Canada to follow everyone else in running up deficits. I doubt it did much good other than impinge upon our future by dumping more debt onto the country. Instead, the government should have held to the original plan. Sadly, with a minority at the time it was more about getting the other parties to agree than it was about doing what was logical and right when the situation in Canada was actually taken into account as opposed to how the rest of the world has royally screwed up their economies.

But during the past few weeks we’ve watched as the US has gone stupid while trying to do something that is fairly simple: raise the debt ceiling. They had to do that immediately, yet dragged it out. They should have focused on what needs doing: addressing revenue shortfalls (i.e., raising taxes and cutting expenditures). But that seems hard when you have a bunch of halfwits praying for salvation, sabotaging the government via the election of folks who would rather uphold a stupid promise not to raise taxes as opposed to ensuring the country doesn’t default.

And now we see S&P lowering the rating for the US and the obvious solution is prayer and blame the President. Instead, the people of the US need to look into the mirror and realize that you have to pay for what you want. And if you can’t you either have to EARN more money or cut expenses. You simply can’t keep borrowing on the credit card and “hope for the best”. That last sentiment is no better than prayer.

Put it this way, if you were dying of cancer maybe you’d pray but you’d most certainly see an oncologist. If you simply prayed you’d be an idiot. Prayer and hope should always be a “wouldn’t hurt” thing, not the main political thrust and policy of anyone.

And, yeah, I’m ranting but it’s just driving me nuts. Idiots abound. And they seem intent on ensuring the “bread and circuses” continues unabated while the US falls into an abyss. To make matters worse the Europeans seem hellbent on their own fiction believing that someone else will do the work while they all retire early. The socialist morass they’ve created will be a bitch to unravel but they have no choice. A system predicated on people not living to 80 or 90 cannot function if people suddenly do live to an average of 80+. Especially if they’re retiring in their 50s meaning many are retired longer than they’ve worked but expect to extract  cash from the system as if it somehow simply grows on trees. Throw in the unproductive years from 0 – 18 and you’re looking at a set of societies that believe you can be unproductive for the vast majority of your life but that somehow the system should pay for this! Unbelievable!

I do wish some politicians would just have the balls to stand up and say “Look. The systems we put in place were when we didn’t really think many would get to 65. Time’s have changed. 75 is the new 65. And early retirement is something only a few will be available to afford. The rest of us will have to work until 75. It’s the new reality. Get used to it.” They should then follow up by eliminating federal and other over-rich pension funds and roll them into a single national fund where everyone is treated identically. One in which you only are able to extract what you put in. If you want to put in more while you’re working, you can get more on the way out when you ultimately retire. Not only is this fair and equitable but it’s also good economic sense. Plus, such a system allows for employees to move from one employer to another — or even start their own firms — without worrying about their pensions. It also eliminates the Nortel fiasco wherein the parent firm disappears taking the pensions with it. Besides, if you look at the CPP one sees a well run pension system. Most other ones aren’t that well run. They are not fully funded and are liabilities on the books of companies. And if the unions bitch I’d just tell them to deal with it. What’s good for the country is good for the unions and its members. And it’s best to eat a bit of crow now before an angry electorate does something more drastic in the future when the inequity becomes more apparent. Besides, done right the liability would move to a federal pension and everyone would have to pony up their fair share. How this would irritate the unions or their members escapes me but reason and logic tend not to be that common in many unions — see UAW prior to GM and Chrysler going through bankruptcy; they bled GM and Chrysler nearly to death before realizing their goose was nearly cooked.

So, if you’re having a problem — financial, health, whatever — get off your ass and fix the problem. Don’t hold prayer sessions, don’t sing kumbaya. Just look the problem in the face and resolve it. Do what Chretien and Martin did: do what’s right even if it’s unpopular. Because, for the sake of whatever the problem is it’s ALWAYS better to do the right thing than the popular thing because damn if we don’t know that the “popular thing” hasn’t gone and screwed the whole planet over these past 30 – 50 years!

In other words, get down from the pulpit and fix the problem. If you don’t know how to do your freaking job find someone who does and get them to fix it. And be prepared that the solution will be unpleasant. But doing nothing but praying and hoping will only mean a much more unpleasant future.

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August 2011
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