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There needs to be an evolution
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

So what makes it SUPER? When political parties don’t want to act they can create a committee that is doomed to fail. Why will it fail? It will fail because of the same reason Congress fails.  Nobody can actually make a decision. Today they missed their deadline.

The problem is no more difficult than the decisions that many of our families are making this Holiday Season. The families don’t have the money they had in the past so there will be fewer presents under the tree. The problem for Congress is much more complex but not more difficult because the solution is known. The competition for government funds is intense. Do funds go to Medicare or Defense, to Education or Food Stamps? Someone can make a decision in our household or it will be abundantly clear that the decision will be made for us. Those that delay cutting their household expenses run the risk of losing their lifestyle completely. We have all seen this happen. Households can’t print money or devalue their debts and they certainly aren’t run by committee.

Congress hopes that the Federal Reserve can keep rates low and print more money. Bernake keeps telling Congress that he can’t do it all. They need to be responsible. In our households we know that the way out of an overspending/debt problem is two-fold. We need to spend less and earn more. Congress can’t decide on how to spend less and they don’t have a clear understanding on how to earn more.

Spending less is the great debate. Our elective representatives can’t get re-elected by the citizens that get less. Our society is so diverse that it can seldom agree on anything much less giving a break to the other guy.  Until Congress is forced into across the board cuts they won’t have a story that is sellable to their constituents. A good excuse is what may save us.

Earning more is the confusing part.  Forty eight percent of the wage earners pay no taxes. This 48% can vote for more entitlements. There is no clause in the constitution that says we must be willing to pay for the things we vote for. If lunch is free, why would I try to earn the money to go buy a burger?

Billionaires pay no taxes!  That is the fault of the tax code. Who writes the tax code? Congress does it again.  Why do billionaires get tax breaks? Money for campaigns! Goldman Sachs contributes heavily to both parties and has had former partners elected Governor of NJ for both parties. They figured out that it doesn’t matter which party is in control so long as they have friends. The tax code needs to be simplified and the burden of entitlements must be borne by all. Please note that I did not say equally borne by all but everybody needs to help pay for what they demand from government. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

The Occupy Wall Street folks need to change location and occupy Congress.  They have some legitimate concerns but are telling the wrong people. The tax code needs to be rewritten and Wall Street can’t do it and doesn’t want to do it. If anything angers me as a stockholder it is the exorbitant exit packages for ousted executives. Peter Darbee got $35 million after being ousted from PG&E following the San Bruno explosion. Was the explosion his fault? No, but a $35 million exit package for 7 years of service from a regulated monopoly with guaranteed profits seems to beg the question about his true added value. Stan O’Neal got $161 million in retained benefits after getting fired from Merrill Lynch and it probably was his fault. This cronyism helps fuel the division between the economic classes in our country. Sometimes things are just obviously wrong. Still, the answer is for stockholders to go after the boards and compensation committees because the stockholders are the injured party.

Let’s face it, people are tired.  The growing divide between the classes is growing and it needs to go back the other way. Both sides will need to compromise for this to work.  Government can’t just turn off the money switch or there will be a Depression. As in all things it needs to be an evolution, not a revolution but it is time to get started.

Mark Laurora
Nov. 21, 2011