Monthly Archives: January 2014

Kick-The-Can-Down-The-Road

COMMON SENSE – A Rare Commodity

For most of my life, I have been of the opinion that ‘common sense’ was just that – common.  As I get older and watch how the world is changing, I am now of the opinion that ‘common sense’ is a rather rare commodity.

Grandpa T’s Common Sense Rule # 2:  Never use your weed whip with your mouth open.  This is especially true if your neighbors walked their dogs on your lawn the night before.

To clarify my understanding of the term ‘common sense,’ I consulted my favorite online source of information, Wikipedia.  I am not exaggerating when I say there are 16 pages on Wikipedia about the definition and history of the term ‘common sense.’  Common sense tells me that one paragraph would have been sufficient.  For the sake of brevity, here is the first sentence of the 16 pages: ‘Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things which is shared by nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.’

Here is my argument about ‘common sense’ becoming a rare commodity.  You have just read Grandpa T’s Rule #2.  How could anyone disagree?  How could anyone disagree if I were to relate that I, Grandpa T did not heed his own advice last summer.  The result was that some multi-legged bug ended up in my mouth!  Yuck!  All people now believing that Rule #2 is the epitome of ‘common sense,’ raise your hands.  That’s what I thought.  Unanimous!

Here is the chink in the ‘common sense’ armor.  The definition says that common sense is ‘a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things which  is shared by nearly all people.’  What if the majority of the people understand and judge incorrectly?

An example:  Suppose you are the retiring CEO of the largest bank in the world.  Your bank has multiple branches across the U.S.  You are tasked to hire your replacement.  One candidate that applies has 18 months experience as a bank manager at one of the many banks.  Prior to that, he was a teller in another of the smaller branches.  His experience before being a teller was that he organized Girl Scout cookie sales for a large metropolitan area.    He was average in his performance at every position.  Would you hire him?

Another candidate has years of experience as CEO of a large competitive bank.  He also had years of experience as a regional manager.  He was exceptional at every position he held.

Which candidate would you hire?

By now, you smart readers realize that my analogy relates to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

At a critical time in our nation’s history, facing financial and budget problems galore, the majority of the American public voted to reelect for a second term the individual that caused most of the problems.  Where did common sense come into play with that decision?

Grandpa T’s Common Sense Rule #3: Never, ever believe a woman that says she does not want anything for her birthday, anniversary, or Christmas, because she has everything!  I bought into that logic just once in my life, and the divorce was greatly more expensive than the gift.

Do you know the difference between the national debt and the national deficit?

The national deficit is the difference between federal government revenues and federal government expenditures for a one year budget.  The national debt is the accumulation of these deficits.  As close as I can figure, the deficit for FY 2014 will be $744 billion.  This will result in a national debt of $18.2 trillion. (The projected national debt at the end of FY 2018 is currently projected to be $21.69 trillion!)

I bring this up for two reasons.

A few days ago, some noted financial analyst lauded the POTUS’s efforts to reduce the national deficit for the current fiscal year.  He pointed out, with the use of graphs, that our deficit is now a smaller percentage of our expenditures than with previous administrations. This noted person went on to say that, as a result, the government was not spending enough money to stimulate the economy and should consider spending more money! (The percentage is smaller, because the spending is so much higher!)  Common sense tells me that this analyst was weed whipping a marijuana field with his mouth open!

Does this pass the common sense test?  Have we not learned a thing by watching what is happening in Greece, Italy, Ireland and Spain? Ireland has pretty much resolved their financial issues.  They did it with spending cuts coupled with tax increases.  ( I agree with my friend, Banker Bob, that spending cuts and tax increases are what needs to be done here, but I want to see a viable budget first.)  Are we so contrite that we believe our government is ‘too big to fail?”  I am sure Rome had that same attitude two millennium ago.

Secondly, why do we continue to elect officials that are unwilling to face financial reality?  Could it be that the people with ‘common sense’ are being overtaken by people that have no vested interest in the U.S other than to bleed our country dry for unearned entitlements?

I find it interesting that many states in the U.S. do not require photo IDs to vote, but the country of Mexico does, in fact, require identification.  How ironic is that?  Indications are that there are one million illegal aliens in Los Angeles county alone.  What could possibly be the reason that photo ID’s are not required for voting in national elections?  Can we attribute the political life of Maxine Waters, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reed and Nancy Pelosi to illegal aliens that vote?

Grandpa T’s Common Sense Rule #1:  Politicians are more concerned with being re-elected  than with legislating for the public good.

(If I had started the blog with this at #1, you would not have read this piece!)

Need proof?  If you are in touch with the Washington happenings, you are aware that there was a budget passed just prior to Christmas.  I believe this was a first for this administration.  Have you seen any of the details about that budget?  Try as I may, I cannot find any of the details involving our landmark first Obama budget.

The reason for our first budget?  Simple.  2014 is a mid-term election year and nobody from either party wants to look like a villain before these elections.  There were more mandatory sequestration cuts that were to be implemented without a new budget.   Those cuts will now be substantially reduced even though they were not so great.  Common sense tells me that the American public got shortchanged and screwed yet again.  The can continually gets kicked further down the road.  All of this is being done for the sake of re-election.

It appears that our government has become anemic when it comes to leadership.  Rather than cutting back on welfare programs, reducing unnecessary expenditures or eliminating unnecessary bureaucracies, our elected officials would rather sink the ship – our country.  Heaven forbid a politician not give maximum attention to private interest groups and lobbyists that come with campaign contributions at the expense of doing what is right for America. (Why is it that we always appear to be running out of Social Security money, but never appear to be short of welfare money?)

There is not one person in America that does not know they should not spend more money than they earn.  Yet, we allow our government a pass.   That continual pass has now cost us trillions!

Unfortunately, many Americans do not understand the earning/spending relationship.  They have over-extended themselves with credit card debt.  They are facing foreclosure.  They clearly take their cues from our government.  Too many Americans have adopted this growing sense of entitlement, having learned it from our government.  The trickle-down effect has created a huge problem.  Outrageous spending at the expense of others!

The approval ratings for our Congress are lower than our general opinions of a slick used car salesman.  Common sense indicates that we need to elect qualified, educated, honest leaders with integrity to lead this country in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Has the American public become so apathetic concerning the shenanigans of our government that Honey Boo Boo and Kim Kardashian are deemed more important?

Americans know what is right, but Americans have also become dependent on government spending.  We have become much too willing to give up our individual freedoms in exchange for government intervention and control.

Will America wake up in time to save itself?

Common sense tells me that we will, but common sense has become a rare commodity.