Saturday, March 21, 2009

You're on Your Own

Last year my wife and I spent some time on the Jersey shore and discovered that there had once been a thriving community just south of the Cape May lighthouse. There is virtually nothing left of it now. The town rose up in the mid to late 1800's and was pretty much wiped out in a hurricane around 1950 or so.

I don't recall whether there were lives lost or not, but when we read the accounts of the destruction we noticed one thing. The people just sucked it up, moved inland aways and stared over. Nowhere in the accounts of the disaster were accounts of anyone wondering where the government was, why didn't someone help, who is going to help them rebuild...

What has happened to that mentality? We can point to the Katrina mess and say that much was done wrong by all parties involved...but that's not the point here. What has happened to personal responsibility? Every time there is some major disaster politicians race to have their areas declared disaster zones so that the federal money will come racing in. That's not responsibility, it's irresponsibility!

We need to be responsible for ourselves. We also need to remember what it was like when neighbors looked out for neighbors. It shouldn't be that difficult to take care of our immediate needs, then help out our neighbors' immediate needs, and when the mess is over work on the rest of the details, helping out your neighbors when possible.

But wait! Doesn't the Bible tell us to bear each others' burdens? As a matter of fact, it does, but it does not tell us to expect that someone else will take all our problems off our hands. The fact that we should be willing to help others out should not be an excuse to expect others to race to our aide every time we need help.

I firmly believe it's our responsibility to help out anyone we can, any time we can. However, we should never expect anyone--particularly the government to run to our aid every time we need a helping hand.

Jump on the Bandwagon

Now that the US Congress is after AIG, other government parties are getting in on the act. I just read this morning that a bunch of other politicians are weighing in on restraining compensation of top executives of such outfits.
Now, on the surface this sounds fine, maybe even a great idea, but think about it a minute. If the government can regulate how much a a professional money manager (or money mis-manager) makes a year, what is coming next? Will a lawyer who rakes in a multi-million dollar fee for a major case be next? Is a doctor who uses highly developed skills to cure in line also? How about an auto worker, steel work, police officer, fire fighter, material handler...? We're headed right down the path toward regulated wages. That would be another part of socialism. It doesn't bother us when the proposed regulations are on them, but we'll realized the problem when it begins to effect us.
If the politicians wanted to reign themselves in first, maybe the industries would follow suit, but that's something we'll likely never see since those in power are not likely to ever pass meaningful salary restraints on themselves.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Slippery Slope

I've been on slippery slopes before, and recall one instance very well. My middle son and I were shoveling the snow from the roof of our garage when suddenly my feet went out from beneath me and found myself up to my waist in a snowbank, from which I then had to dig my way out. The snowbank was actually the more dangerous place in that case, and thought the trip down was almost exhilarating I could have been hurt landing where I did, as I did.
Our high court justices often speak of slippery slopes: places they fear to go for danger of causing a larger problem than the one they're trying to address in a given case. I fear that we could be looking at one of these slopes in our nation today.
Like everyone else, I'm upset, maybe even outraged that the AIG executives were given multi-million dollar bonuses for inept work. It's most upsetting because it was our money--the taxpaying public's dollars. After it was over, our congress got into the act and decided to tax the bonuses at an exorbitant rate, and there starts that dangerous slide. Our constitution prohibits laws that are "ex post facto," after the fact. I fear that this is the most blatant example yet of this type of law. The money was given and taken before the law was even brought up before the House or Senate, let alone signed by the President--all after the fact, even if it becomes law.
Last night Jay Leno hosted President Obama on his late night talk show. Jay commented on his concern about what happens when the government decides it doesn't like him and goes after him for something he did in the past. The President sidestepped that issue and was, if I recall correctly, applauded for his response.
So, here we go down the slope, with most of the nation pushing the sled, or at least applauding the slide. If this passes, where will that take us?