Common sense tells us that if you spend more money than you take in, eventually you go bankrupt.
But in the U.S., where almost all of us spend more than we earn, it’s difficult to imagine a time when the money would stop flowing.
I saw a news story in the past week or so where groups in Italy were rioting because the government was proposing drastic steps to get spending under control.
For years, Europe has been the envy of many people here in the U.S., due to the long vacations many Europeans take and their wealth of social programs. It now appears the bill for all of this has come due, and there’s no way to pay it. Now, Italy is scrambling to find a way to get its financial house in order.
We here in the U.S. may feel that could never happen here. After all, this is the United States! Well guess what. It could happen here and it will unless we begin to take action.
What kinds of action?
We have to make sure our education base is strong so that young minds will be encouraged to innovate. This is not accomplished simply by paying teachers more money, but by also holding them accountable. “No Child Left Behind,” which was created by Democrats and Republicans alike, may not have been the answer since it relied pretty much on standardized tests only. But methods of measuring and rewarding good teachers and good schools, must be found.
People are generally going to have to resist the temptation to buy un-needed items on credit. If it’s a life-or-death necessity and you don’t have the funds for it, you don’t have a choice. The challenge is in determining what truly is a “life or death necessity.” Buying medicines or fixing the heater in your house is a necessity. Buying the latest video game is not a necessity.
And we are all going to have to get more involved in our communities. We’re going to have to get up from our computer keyboards and go to city council meetings, or school board meetings, or county commission meetings. We shouldn’t go just when we’ve got a complains. We need to go to understand how the system works, so that when someone tries to convince you that one elected official or another isn’t doing things the right way, you’ll be able to judge for yourself.
All of this takes time, time that many people say they don’t have. Well, we’d all better start taking time to care about our schools, to care about our spending, and to care about our communities. If we don’t we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame.