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How did we get Here?

A Short History Lesson

It’s amazing how so many government officials, politicians, and others are sitting around talking about the problems we’re having in the nation, wondering “what happened?” and “How did we get here?”

It’s those of us over sixty that can still look back, and simply having lived through the last sixty plus years, know what happened. Of course all the present under forty five people who are now the bankers, lawyers, corporate executives, government officials, and politicians, don’t want to listen, nor give credence, to the older generation and what we know. Additionally, all of the older generation’s parents and grand parents are gone and thus unable to reaffirm the lessons of history. And, it’s a proven fact that generations and nations that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Without going into world history for the past 1,000 years, and listing the fall of various nations and governments, let’s just look back a mere sixty to seventy years in this country. It was the forties, the war to end all wars was over and this country started into a period of unparalleled growth. Men came home from the war, women came home from the war-time factories, and in blissful joy, created all us “baby boomers”. Then before you could say “economic growth,” there was the Korean conflict, followed not to far behind with the Vietnam Conflict. Although defense spending gave these conflicts the appearance of economic growth, it primarily allowed the government in continuing to increase its size while justifying tax increases.

As we moved from fighting wars, and into the cold war sixties, the baby boomers were coming of high school and college age. That’s when the first really noticeable changes began to occur. Prior to that time, social security took only a miniscule bite from workers wages, and the federally mandated minimum wage was dancing around $1.00 an hour.

                                        MINIMUM WAGE BY DATE

1939 - $0.30                          1970 - $1.45                        1980 - $3.10
1945 - $0.40                          1971 - $1.60                        1981 - $3.35
1950 - $0.75                          1974 - $1.90                        1990 - $3.80
1956 - $1.00                          1975 - $2.00                        1991 - $4.25
1965 - $1.25                          1976 - $2.20                        1996 - $4.75
1967 - $1.00                          1977 - $2.30                        1997 - $5.15
1968 - $1.15                          1978 - $2.65                        2007 - $5.85
1969 - $1.30                          1979 - $2.90                        2009 - $7.25

During the next twenty years or so, things started to change more dramatically. The government started looking at ways to increase income in order to support a growing list of new programs. They mandated that the minimum wage should apply to domestic help. What was “domestic help”? It occurred in a time when welfare was basically non existent, except for what was provided from the private sector through churches and organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc. Many of the under educated, under privileged, (formerly poor folks) who worked, at mostly lower paying jobs in factories, construction, etc., often referred to as “common or unskilled labor”, also worked as domestic help. They were maids, landscapers, and handymen, who worked in private homes while the women in many middle class families took on jobs to provide a second income and hopefully raise their living standards. There were few, if any, day care centers to speak of and when these baby boomers started having children, it meant having to stay home to raise the kids until school age or hiring a maid. (The real beginning of “working mothers” in America.) The government also mandated that in addition to paying these domestic workers minimum wage, their social security also had to be paid and reported to the government. The eventual result of all these mandates and regulation was that the number of domestic workers began an immediate decline to almost nothing in the first year. Shortly thereafter began the great entitlement programs we are funding and still expanding today. The government freebee programs of subsidized housing, subsidized utilities, welfare payments, food stamps, medicaid, free CEL phones, mortgages to unqualified buyers, and any number of other programs of which most taxpayers are totally unaware began its growth back then and continues to grow even today.

We are now two generations into government entitlement programs to families who have never known anything else but getting paid for NOT working and providing nothing back to society. Many will work odd jobs for cash, but not report it, in order to protect and keep their government entitlement coming. Interestingly, they don’t have to pass a clean drug test to continue these benefits, while many taxpaying workers do have to pass random drug testing in order to keep their jobs.

It was also in the sixties that the Civil Rights Movement finally moved America forward to end racial discrimination and promote equality for all Americans. The only problem being that an old policy of “separate but equal” had basically kept the fully black schools on a level that was definitely not equal in the quality of education to which all white schools had been teaching. Hence, when they integrated the schools, most blacks, through no fault of their own, were not on the same level of education as the grades into which they found themselves. The unfortunate result would have been massive failures of many black students the first year in the grades they were placed. So, rather than have such an occurrence, which would result in screams of discrimination, schools simply started the practice of social promotions. In some cases they also lowered the standards to allow more to pass. The best solution would have been to simply integrate the first grade and let it start moving forward with the same level of teaching. By the time that first grade reached college, all would have been equally educated at the same level. However, we all know that our government has a history of looking for the “now” solution without regard or consideration of the results years down the road.

When I was kid of that age, my mother was at home along with all my friend’s mothers. Get out of line at a friend’s home and HIS mother would straighten you out in a hurry, and then you prayed that his mother would not tell your mother or you got a second dose when you got home. However, as we moved into the seventies and eighties, a major number of school kids became full time “latch-key” kids once they reached middle school. They came home to empty homes because both parents were working. They played, watched TV, and went through the afternoons with no adult supervision or interaction. Needless to say, this is not a good scenario for kids. I and my friends got into enough trouble while being watched and disciplined full time …. God only knows what would have happened to us with any lesser supervision. Let’s be clear about something … Poverty does make for lower educated children, increased crime, and drug addition. A lack or discipline, morals, and respect for authority and others, taught by responsible parents has the proven ability to overcome the hardships of poverty. Good citizenship, and the future of a child begins at home and no where else. The schools are there to educate, not teach respect, morals, and responsibility for one’s actions. That needs to be learned at home before a child begins school.

So, as we enter the eighties we have teenagers coming into their “rebellious years.” A time when they start pushing established boundaries and rules, if for no reason except to establish the very existence of various boundaries, and the consequences, if any, of breaking a few rules. If doing so results in nothing bad happening to them, then the rules and boundaries ceased to exist, and the authority of those who set such rules and boundaries also becomes invalid. Add all of that to a history and attitude of, “I am ‘entitled’ to equal everything” by birth right, or the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal rights”, instead of working for it, and we begin to have a serious work ethics and attitude problems begining to manifest in a lot people, who also now have no respect for authority or accepting responsibility for their actions or their self made problems.

As this new age attitude grew, basically unnoticed, during the late eighties and through the nineties, America also moved into a very obvious “greed mode”. Corporations were growing, the economy was growing, entitlements were growing, the stock market was growing, inflation was growing, government was growing and government salaries and benefits began passing the civilian sector income for equal jobs, by a large percentage. Keep in mind that the government adds nothing to the economy, it only takes to support its programs. Also keep in mind, corporations and businesses, no mater how large or small, DO NOT PAY TAXES! All taxes are passed directly to the consumer by adding to the product price when sold to the consumer.

It was also during this period that the balance of trade deficit started to change dramatically. We began importing more than we exported. It wasn’t so much that foreign companies were pumping their goods into America cheap, although that was a small factor. It was that American companies started moving their manufacturing to foreign countries. It didn’t mater if it was something as grandiose as making steel, or as small as making tennis shoes and underwear. American manufacturing giants could move into a foreign county where that local government offered free or very low rent, lower utilities, cheap labor, ($.50 an hour vs. $5.00 an hour.) little or no government regulation such as OSHA, no unemployment tax, no disability tax, no social security tax, no Medicare tax, no insurance requirements, and no unions, just to mention a few of the up front benefits. These companies could now pay the shipping of all needed raw materials to the foreign plant, make the products, and ship them all over the world, including back to America, at substantially higher profit margins. Hence their profits, stock and dividends went up. The stock holders were happy, and the company executives could easily justify huge salaries and bonus payments, while thousands of American jobs quietly began vanishing.

Look around and see what we still make in this country. You say cars? Better look again at where all the parts are manufactured. Do we have any textile or steel mills left? A few years back there was a push to “buy American”. The problem now is that you can find very few products in the U.S. that are American made and probably less than 5% are 100% made in America.

Back to the good ole government now….. As the century turned, the government began artificially boosting the housing market and all associated building supply lines within that market, by pushing banks, mortgage companies, Sally Mae, Freddie Mack, etc. to build and provide housing to people who could not ever afford to pay back the loans being granted and guaranteed by the government. At the same time the oil industry started into an unprecedented period of raising their prices, which in turn raised the price of every product on the planet.

Before the first decade of the new century reached its end, we saw the big housing house or cards collapse, forcing the financial markets to tank. As a matter of simple survival, the involved and related housing industry companies started cutting the few non-services related jobs left in this country and the recession began.

So here we are today with fewer jobs, higher taxes, a collapsed housing industry and its associated glut of foreclosed homes, higher energy costs with no relief in sight and a monster growth of government that is printing paper money to give away, as the tax base continues to deteriorate and the dollar continues to devalue in the world.

Who caused this mess? The government and we ourselves! Who specifically in the government? Not this President, not the past President, not the government employees themselves, not the tax payers, and not our parents. It was CONGRESS and the SENATE. Take that one step further and investigate the origin of every government program and policy which I have outlined as contributing to our present state and you will ALWAYS come up with programs promoted, sponsored and pushed through the halls of Congress and the Senate. They set the budget, they set taxes, and THEY determine where our government is going. When I say we also are to blame. It’s because a majority of Americans are too lazy, uninvolved, or uncaring to vote. Just look at the most recent primary for Bay County, Florida. There are 108,477 registered voters, but only 33,633 voted. That means that 31% of the people made decisions for the remaining 69%! Unfortunately, this is true across this nation. The minority is deciding for the majority! We have bad government because the special interest groups vote while the majority does not!

Remember too that government employees vote. Federal, State, County City …. They all vote! Do you think they will vote for someone who wants to reduce government spending and therefore may jeopardize their job? The same is true for the employees of companies that basically survive on government contracts. Then there are the unions, everyone who receives government entitlements, and a massive number of special interest groups that also vote. How are we ever going to stop this cancerous growth of government when these people DO vote? Take note of how President Obama caters to the unions. The unions heavily supported his candidacy. I’m not going to begin to go into the detrimental effects unions have on this country, other than to say unions are there to support the weakest of their numbers while holding back those who would produce or contribute more than the weakest.

Yes, I have bashed the Democrats and bleeding heart liberal do-gooders. But history is the greatest proof of their ability to wreck things.

When Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program and Congress passed it into law:

1. Participation was to be voluntary
2. Participants would pay only 1% of the first $1,400 of annual income.
3. The payments would be tax deductable.
4. The money was to be in “Trust” and never to be used by the government for any purpose but retirement.
5. Retirement benefits, when paid out, would never to be considered as taxable income.

A good idea in the beginning!

However, since that time Congress has made a few changes. Participation is no longer voluntary, the tax 7.65% on the first $90,000 of income; and payments are not deductable. Under President Johnson, a Democrat, the “Trust Fund” was moved into the general fund so the government could start spending it for other purposes such as welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc. President Jimmy Carter and his Democratic party came along and began offering benefits to immigrants in this country, who had never paid a penny into Social Security. Democratic President Clinton’s reign saw the government start taxing up to 85% of the benefits when paid to participants and Al Gore (Democrat) cast the deciding vote. Most recently the Democratically controlled Congress froze Social Security payments for 2010 and 2011, but approved for themselves a cost of living salary increase! They are also talking about extending Social Security and entitlement benefits to illegal immigrants.

Keep all of this in mind in November. You also need to learn what a RINO is. They are Republicans In Name Only. Meaning they call themselves Republicans, but basically have a history of voting with the Democrats and their programs.

Do we need change? Yes we do! Not change like we got two years ago, but a massive change from old politicians to new ones. (Referring not to their age, but how long they have been in office and especially their voting records.) Don’t be so ignorant as to run around saying “vote all the incumbents out!” Voting for “change” without knowing just who you are replacing in office, their platform, experience, ethnics, morality, and past voting record, is a sure recipe for disaster. Not all change is good. Have we learned nothing since the 2008 elections?

What we need, is more competent, high moral, intelligent, and responsible representation who will listen to their constituents. A few rule changes or amendments that will influence a cleaner and more corruption free government would also be in order. Here are four simple suggestions:

1. We need to remove the influence of money from the political arena. Allow no contributions or the acceptance of favors by elected officials. When an incumbent comes up for re-election, the government should provide the incumbent, and every “qualified” opponent, the same amount of money to spend on their campaign. There should be no other contributions or political advertising permitted which is not paid from that fund. Then every candidate would be on equal ground and none could over shadow the other with millions from their own pockets or special interest groups looking to buy candidates’ votes once elected.

2. We need a policy or amendment that prevents the addition of anything to a bill which is not directly related to that bill. In other words, kill the ability to add “pork” for other pet projects to important bills.

3. We need term limits! Five terms for a Congressman (10 years) Three for Senate (12 Years)

4. We need an amendment that basically says Congress can pass no law of the land from which they themselves are excluded. They should be under Social Security the same as everyone else and they should be under the recent healthcare plan they have pushed on us. Right now they retire at full salary after only one term in office, and they have their own “special” healthcare program for which the taxpayer pay and they keep for life.

Looking toward 2011, the previous administration’s tax cuts will expire. The Obama Healthcare bill will require people to have medical insurance. The insurance industry is already increasing their rates and licking their chops in anticipation of that happening. How many more jobs will be lost because small businesses will close or lay off more employees because they can’t afford any more government intervention. 2011 offers no COLA for Social Security recipients, but higher taxes for all! In September the dollar was the lowest it has ever been against foreign currencies. The housing industry continues to slide, energy prices continue to rise and there are no really NEW jobs being created. Can we afford much more?

The so called government stimulus money of late DID NOT CREATE JOBS! If it did, they were government jobs, or projects that kept present workers working. Until we get restraints on the constant inflationary results of never ending union demands, coupled with government established minimum wages, ever increasing government wage and benefit increases, and ever increasing taxes, we will be seeing no NEW jobs. Why not increase taxes on goods coming back into this country that were made using cheap foreign labor instead of figuring ways to increase or add new taxes on already over taxed Americans. Lower the minimum wage so companies can hire and train the unskilled to become skilled and then earn more because they are then worth more. Stop paying benefits to illegal alien workers in this country. Deport them all and force the hiring of Americans in the jobs the aliens are doing for lower wages. Start a reduction in benefits being provided to those fully able to work, who basically don’t want to work and are getting benefits because they simply exist. Fail a drug test, lose benefits. A worker who loses a job because of breaking the company rules, should receive no benefits. America stands for and supports equal opportunity. We should not reward those, who by their own choosing, set themselves up for failure. Those who won’t make the effort necessary to pass in school or quit school early, are choosing their own future failure. Don’t work hard at your job, make demands, or deliver less performance than is expected and you establish a pattern that will retard your progression and may eventually lead to termination. Those who contribute only 20-30% to society should not expect to receive 100% in return.

If this country does not change its direction of the past 60-70 years, I’m afraid that our grandchildren will find themselves in a world of major strife, chaos and downfall that has already been outlined for Christians in Revelations. I’ll be gone by then, but I hate that they will have to suffer from the mistakes our leaders are currently making. Watch out for the apathetic left wing, bleeding heart do-gooders of today. You will find that most of them inherited their positions through family or stooped to dishonesty, instead of gaining their position through hard work and sacrifice.

Truly INVESTIGATE the candidates, their stand on issues, their morality, their experience, and their history before you vote this November. If they are incumbents, review their past voting record and do re-elect those who are, and have been, doing the kind of job you want done. As the old saying goes, “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” Then VOTE! Don’t let the organized few decide for the majority! VOTE with intelligence AFTER doing your homework, but VOTE! The elections this November and over the two years following may very well determine the survival of our nation. We are in serious trouble and standing at the fork in the road. Make the wrong choices now and we will not be able to return. The rest of the industrialized world is working very hard to replace America’s standing as being the greatest power and nation on the planet. They are already manufacturing more, educating better, and increasing their economic influence in the world. We had better begin paying attention and get back on the paths that made this nation great in the world.

And guess what? We’re NOT going to make it without God’s help! We need to tell the ACLU, and the rest of those who would take God out of our country and government, to get on board or leave. In spite of what our present President has professed to the world, we ARE a Christian nation that tolerates all other religions …. only BECAUSE that very faith tells us to do so!