Archived Story

We have met our enemy

Published 9:42am Friday, January 18, 2013

by Robert “Bob” Holt

When I was growing up in Franklin, we had two basic fears.

The first was that the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic, then led by Premier Nikita Khrushchev, would destroy the United States. He announced in 1956 in Moscow that the Soviet Union would “bury” the United States.

Its early victories in the race to dominate outer space beginning with the launch in 1957 of its Sputnik satellite were a clear sign to the world that the Soviet Union had the technological skills to launch a satellite into space and control its actions. Only 23 inches in diameter, this metal satellite beamed radio signals to Earth.

In October 1962, Khrushchev started sending ballistic nuclear missiles to Cuba. President Kennedy reacted with a naval blockade preventing the further delivery of these powerful missiles.

Fortunately, the Soviet ships carrying these missiles returned to the USSR.

Our second fear was that we would be attacked by beings from the planet Mars. Vivid stories of little green men with large oval eyes and three-fingered hands landing on Earth via flying saucer-like spaceships served to exacerbate this perception.

Sightings of UFOs dominated the news. People reported being taken captive by the Martians, studied and returned to Earth unharmed.

The secrecy surrounding the 1947 crash of a still undocumented object in Roswell, N.M., and H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” movie in 1953 further added to the mystique of Martians taking over the Earth.

Today the fears of many informed Americans revolve around our national financial situation. Our $16.4 trillion federal government debt is so extraordinary that many scholars feel it will never be paid back.

That level amounts to $52,200 for every U.S. citizen, or $146,000 for every taxpayer.

Our federal government has not passed a budget in four years. There is very little emphasis on reducing spending, opting instead to spend more and more for pet projects that, in many cases, do not produce the results for which they were intended.

Solyndra, a company formed to produce solar panels for green energy, in 2009 received a $535 million guaranteed loan from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Stimulus Program. It built a manufacturing facility in California and hired 1,100 employees.

Private investors contributed $75 million. Solyndra closed in August 2011 and filed for bankruptcy. For some unexplained and unbelievable reason, the Department of Energy agreed just before the bankruptcy filing to allow the private investors to be reimbursed from bankruptcy proceeds ahead of our federal government.

Basically, we taxpayers lost $535 million.

It is obvious that the federal government is out of control, and its budget is unmanageable. Most state governments have a balanced budget amendment preventing them from spending more than they take in.

Except in extreme situations, we should do the same at the federal level. Also, many federal functions such as education and disaster relief should be transferred to the states since they are closer to the people affected and, therefore, much more accountable.

The “one size fits all” philosophy of the federal government dictating rules and regulations for everyone across all states no longer is appropriate nor is it working.

Robert N. “Bob” Holt, a Franklin native, is a professor of business management and real estate at Southwestern Community College in Sylva, N.C. His email address is hrobert@vt.edu.

  • employee2

    Some don’t have any skin in the game as to why they don’t care. If Daddy is giving you a monthly allowance, you don’t care where he gets it or what is his ability to pay it back.

    Suggest Removal

  • happycamper

    I agree fully with what you say, Bob. There seems to be no
    interest by some at looking at our “spending problem”. In fact, many don’t see it as a problem at all. Amazing!

    I don’t believe we can or should have an amendment that requires us to balance our budget every year. I understand that some expenditures crop up from time to time that can’t be logically predicted. However, I DO think we need laws/amendment that provides for: a) An annual budget passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. This budget should not be optional, but REQUIRED prior to Jan 1 of every single year. b) A provision to ensure that the budget is balanced on a running five year average. That is, we must balance our spending and income totally over any five year period going forward. c) Any war (or combat action) needs to be approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, and any such action will NOT be funded from the general fund, but by a special tax passed by the nations voters. We should never be paying for Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan from the general coffers.

    There seems to be a contingent of folks who don’t believe we need to reform SS and/or Medicare. They just want to tax “Someone” (the nasty rich, the mean old corporations, ???) to keep things as they are. They seem to say, “I’ll put $100 into SS, and I want to get my fair share of $400 out of it. The federal government (i.e., the taxpayers) will provide the rest.” That we cannot sustain.

    Will we EVER get serious about spending?

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