Our neighborhood had a weekend block party and a band was performing. A local catering restaurant provided a taco stand and, during a break, a band member came up behind me in line. I smiled at him and, with a little discomfort, he asked, “Does this cost anything?”
I told him that it was already paid for, thanked him for the great set of music, and then mentioned that we also had a keg if he was interested. As we slowly progressed in line he looked around and said, “This is a really nice neighborhood.” And it was… I had mortgaged it all to get in there. I thanked him. Then he said, “I grew up in a neighborhood like this… I remember, I mean, I could never afford it now… but this is nice.”
It got the wheels turning, and I pried. Growing up, his Dad worked full time at a manufacturing plant and his Mom stayed home. As for him, this band gig was an extra job he did on weekends – during the week, he worked full time to support a wife and kids. I can’t say for certain whether his wife worked too, but these days I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised. What I do remember is thinking, “Why is it that man who works harder and longer than his father can’t even afford a taco in the neighborhood he lived in as a child. Why do we seem to be going backwards?”
Finding out why that is… that’s what drives me. Are we living too long past our working age, and then voting to enslave our working to pay for us? Are we having so many babies that “space” becomes unaffordable, prices soar, and jobs become scarce? Is the lack of jobs a result of automation and if so, shouldn’t automation be helping Us? Are government retirement and entitlement programs destroying us? Are our tax laws too easily circumvented by our wealthy? Have they simply moved their accounts off shore? And why is that? How has globalization and the flattening of the world impacted the picture, and what does that mean We the People should do now?
But what drives me to ask these questions is the block party. We need to figure out what we were doing when we were able to work, live, and save – and then try to get back to that day. For me, this is not about getting back to the “conservative” social values of yesteryear, it is about getting back to a day when a man can work, save, live comfortably, and plan for his retirement… not work to pay for someone else’s. Why is the Social Security Trust Fund completely empty? Why did we allow that to happen? Why are we borrowing 1 trillion a year when we already owe 16 trillion in debt? We need to be able to answer these questions if we are ever going to succeed in reversing the trend.
I’m not saying we need to re-implement all the old ways. If anything, it appears we need to remove some of our previous changes – for it looks like we may have changed too much. What we are doing is not working – so we know we need to correct back to the right… or the left. I think it’s a little of both.
And that’s what drives me – the desire to find out what the answer is. Perhaps it’s the Math major in me trying to solve the damn problem… maybe it truly is patriotism, you know “Be all we can be…” but I think, if I’m honest with myself, the truth is that what drives me is my inner desire to be lazy – I truly am sick of working three jobs to try to pay the mortgage.
I want to relax, I like sitting around with nothing to do, I long for it – it’s what allows me to do this. 🙂 Maybe it’s because I turned 40 and am getting old, but I look forward to having less jobs – I sure wish I could afford it. And I got it good – extremely good. I got good jobs, so I can only imagine how my fellow Americans feel. I tell you my friends, America can do better than this. How do I know that? Because we have done better… A man, who can’t afford a taco, working full time and weekends so as to barely scrape by saving nothing… told that he will be taken care of in his old age by a bankrupt government and, not to worry, his credit is still good – just charge it and make minimum payments. His choices are to:
1) Try to land a government job with an endless retirement plan so that his children will be forced to pay for him in retirement,
2) Scrimp and save while he can still work in hopes that a portion of the money he puts into the penniless social security “trust” fund will somehow re-appear one day, or
3) Recognize the cruel game, realize that he is destined to be reliant on the government for his well being, and call it quits. Register for government benefits, aid, and entitlements, vote to keep them coming, and then go where they tell him to.
A man used to have better choices… that’s what drives me.
Yours in Faith