When Do I Prosper?

Author: Gary Hart

We Americans may be entering (or have already entered) a period of national re-evalution.  It was fashionable a few years back for “values” to be a political buzzword, meaning if you believed in “values” (undefined) you voted in a certain way.  But now, we may actually be forced to define what our true values are.

In the past three decades or more we have all become consumers.  Bigger houses, bigger cars, more things.  At the same time we were producing less, importing more, and basing our economy on manipulating money to make money.  The results were predictable.  Huge trade deficits.  Selling US bonds to finance the deficits and to buy more things.

It’s pretty obvious we can’t keep doing this forever.  This pattern has brought us to the mess we are in today.  The question is whether we’ll find a way to pick up where consumption, money manipulation, and unproductivity left off, or whether we will restore a national economy that produces, saves, invests, makes things, and pays its way.

Ottawa, Kansas, in the 1950s was not a bad place.  We didn’t have the luxuries of today and we didn’t buy things we couldn’t afford.  But we had a roof over our heads, adequate nutrition, and affordable health care.  Everyone worked, in my case starting at the age of eleven.  (I don’t think there were child labor laws then.)  We didn’t spend money we didn’t have.  There were no credit cards.  And my parents would have been embarrassed to go to the bank and ask for a loan to buy more gadgets.  The Depression taught them, and they taught me, don’t go into debt.

Paul Volker is an economic statesman.  He has been saying exactly these things for more than thirty years.  The President should ask him to write this speech and  should give it several times as fireside chats.  I would be amazed if Republicans (or Democrats) found a way to criticize it.  What could be more conservative than restoring America’s fundamental values.

57 Responses to “When Do I Prosper?”

  1. bolivare Says:

    True words. And to those who want to blame Clinton, please don’t forget it was a republican controlled congress. So don’t try it. And, CAFTA was done by Bush..again..the congress was under republican control.
    How naive of just our current history.
    To bring manufacturing back, end NAFTA and CAFTA, remove free tarriffs and apply thme fairly with other countries. Give tax breaks to those who produce jobs here instead of elsewhere. Create fair paying jobs and not these fake jobs that only pay minimum wage or a little more. You can’t make a living off that and one shouldn’t be expected to try to do so. Those jobs are perfect for kids who still have the security of mom and dad.
    And, just because mey not like “greenies” so to speak, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have good ideas. Producing energy efficient cars and power can be our next manufacturing business. Its good for jobs, which are good for the economy which is good for the environment all around.

  2. Fred Gunter Says:

    This has been said before. Only problem, we live in a different world today than in the 50’s..

  3. Pegs (aka Katzencats) Says:

    I enjoyed this piece immensely. I’ve been saying the same things at least since the mid-’80s, when my then chosen profession of Accounting was beginning to be off-shored, & I could only get long term temp jobs. As “contract labor”, there were no benefits to be paid, payroll taxes or charge to labor cost – just a charge to a project as an expense. Great cost savings for the companies, not so great for me.

    For the last 15 years, I’ve been building/rebuilding/repairing PCs out of my home for a charity. It doesn’t pay much, but it pays enough & that’s all I want. I’ve had a life long horror of debt & have always lived by the dictum “If I can’t pay for it, I don’t buy it”. Consequently, I haven’t had the latest anything. If I want something badly enough, I save up for it. I still have a rich, full life without those “things”, & without the worry of debt weighing me down. I weather the economic downturns just fine, because frugality is a way of life for me – nothing changes.

    If anything, we’re doing better now, because people still want their PCs, they just can’t afford $500-$1500 for the latest & greatest. So, they come to us to get what they need, knowing they can upgrade later.

    That all said, I’m still waiting for the day when Corporate America finally wakes up & realizes that manufacturing HAS to come back here, for there to be any economy at all.

  4. Jack Hall Says:

    It’s funny that you would mention that Paul Volcker has been saying the same thing for over 30 years. That would mean this has been going on since Ronald Reagan and the Republicans took over. The Republicans were in the White House between 1969 and 2009 eight out of twelve terms. Republicn Presidents outnumber Democratic Presidents 2 to 1 in this time frame.

    What on Earth had the American voter been thinking for the last 40 years? They actually believed a Hollywood actor could run the country! The Conservative agenda finally blew-up on George W Bush’s watch leaving the world economy, national security, American prestige wrecked, abandoned and in flames. And now it is up to the Democrats to repair the economic engine and clear the political debris strewn around the globe.

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I think there has been a Republican War on Roosevelt since 1936 and their triumph is the $790 Billion big bank bailout necessary to save the econonmy in the final months of GW Bush’s second term.

    Any theories you have to explain this are welcome.

  5. cripes Says:

    Gary Hart would have us beleive that medical bankruptcies and job loss are “exceptions” to his general premise that debt is caused by irresponsible consumers buying chinese electronic junk. He whines there wasn’t enough space to say it in 100-200 words. Poor Gary. What a phony.

    Instead he lies and tries to blame strapped workers left out of 30 years of productivity and profit gains.

    Truth is almost all bankruptcy is the result of medical, job loss, income loss, and people using credit to pay for overpriced housing, food and energy.

    See, only 91 words to tell the truth.

    Hey, Gary I know how YOU can save $1,000 a month:
    Turn off your phone, cable and lights
    Walk don’t drive
    Eat one meal a day
    You can save even more if you don’t pay your mortgage or dock fees

    Next he’ll be shilling for the catfood commission.

  6. Danica Warntz Says:

    I thought you might like this 🙂

    The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. 🙂

  7. Avelina Leriche Says:

    Some really prize content on this web site , saved to favorites .

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