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Stop Saying America is Broke

How can the wealthiest nation in the world be broke? Our $14 trillion debt doesn't mean we're broke, it simply means we have severely misplaced our priorities.

For over a century, America has been the wealthiest nation on earth and yet I keep hearing folks talk about how broke we are. I expect this from my Republican friends but even Democrats are starting to parrot this absurd notion. It's become quite popular to point to our bloated national debt and cry poverty. There are even those who say we should deny aid to starving children around the globe because we're just too darn broke.

Well I hate to be a party pooper but our $14 trillion debt doesn't mean we're broke, it simply means we have severely misplaced our priorities. We're so broke that over the last three weeks we've spent over $100 million going to see "The Smurfs" movie, and that's not counting all those over priced concessions. A recent report from 24/7 Wall St. concluded that Americans spend about 15 percent of their household incomes on things to satisfy their vices or to keep themselves amused. The “average” American household which has an income of $63,000 spends more than $8,000 on goods and services it does not actually need. We spend $45 billion a year on our pets while half the world's population lives on less than a dollar a day.

But average Americans are far from the biggest spendthrifts. Sales of luxury goods are zooming. Acccording to the New York Times, "Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin 'Bianca' platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in the United States than it had in any July in five years."

This isn't to say we have no poverty in America. Shamefully we do. Unemployment remains disgracefully high despite record corporate profits and the gap between rich and poor in our nation has never been greater. But these are self imposed conditions. Unbalanced economic, trade, and tax policies have concentrated our wealth in the hands of a few powerful special interests.  As of 2007, the top 1 percent of American households owned 35 percent of all privately held wealth and the top 20 percent of the people owned a remarkable 85 percent. That concentration of wealth is no doubt even greater today.

And yet those of us feasting off the leftovers still lead incredibly wasteful lifestyles while continuing to pile up massive debts. It's time we acknowledged the fact that the first step towards solvency isn't cutting programs that help the poor, take care of our seniors, or bolster the middle class. Our first priority should be raising taxes, especially on those who can afford it the most. We aren't being taxed more and more, we've been taxed less and less, and that's why our debt has ballooned to unsustainable proportions. America broke? Who's fooling who?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brian Crawford August 16, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Thanks for the comments Mr. “Law”, I sincerely appreciate your participation. I'm really glad you brought this up. I am an ardent supporter of what most of us typically think of as small business; “mom and pop” stores, garage start-ups, etc. I always shop local when practicable. “The majority of jobs are created by Small Business Owners” is one of those things that we have all heard repeated so ofter that it has become a precept of our economic policy. But is it true? This has always bothered me because it just doesn't seem logical. After all, large corporations have much greater resources don't they? Recently, and rather famously, fast food behemoth McDonalds hired over 50,000 employees in a single day. I promise a future article on this question, there is no easy set of statistics to answer it. My initial research suggests there are more than a few holes in this proposition.
Brian Crawford August 16, 2011 at 06:26 PM
The second “myth” you mentioned is much easier. While it's true we have a high corporate tax rate, that fact has absolutely nothing to do with job migration. No firms large enough for overseas operations pay anywhere near the full corporate tax rate. In fact, more than a few US multi-nationals pay no tax at all. The reason we keep losing jobs to China and Mexico is simple; the number one controllable expense for any business is the cost of labor. Unfair trade agreements in a global economy have created an environment in which US companies have little choice but to seek cheap labor elsewhere if they want to remain competitive.
TheLaw August 16, 2011 at 06:56 PM
On your first point, I work for a Global corporation. I have been there for 10 years. I have seen my company cut it's workforce in half, and push most of the Engineering and Technical Support outside the US, much to the dismay of the US based employees and our customers. While my company probably has somewhere around the 24,000 employee range, there are plenty of small businesses that employee much smaller numbers of employees, but the businesses themselves are in much greater numbers. While my one company may employee 24,000 people, there are more than 24 companies that employee a thousand or more. Once you factor all the small to medium size businesses that are being affected by these decisions, it's clear to see that the rhetoric about the Ultra Rich not paying enough in taxes, so let's raise it for anyone making 250K or more a year is a joke. We as a country spend too much money, plain and simple and their current administration's laser like focus is to get more American's dependent on the government. Why work when in some states, a person can receive up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, food stamps, cell phones, housing assistance, utilities paid for, transportation, etc. etc. Since you brought up McDonalds, 75% of their locations are owned by franchisees, which is another word for Small Business. This information is found directly on their website.
TheLaw August 16, 2011 at 07:02 PM
On your second point, corporations do not pay taxes, just as employers do not pay taxes. All the cost of the taxes are pushed down to the consumer or the employee. That is a clear fact. Furthermore, recently Harry Reid was heading up a committee to discuss raising more taxes on manufacturing imports. At this meeting were representatives from large corporations to discuss the Pros and Cons of raising the tax burden on their perspective companies. Of all the discussions, one drove the point home more than any other that occurred that day in my opinion. A representative from a very large global corporation informed Mr. Reid that his company employed 27,000 American workers at their manufacturing plants, of which there were multiple locations across the US. He informed them that his company would not be able to afford the increase and that if increases were put in place, they would close all plants in the US, taking the jobs overseas, and those 27,000 Americans would be jobless. Mr. Reid defiantly questioned "and who are you to make this decision?" The speaker stood up, said "I am the CEO of (company name) " and walked out. Mr. Reid's disdain for the speaker is just but a glimpse of the fact he could care less what the American people want or need. This company cannot afford to pass on the higher taxes to it's consumers so it has to go outside the US to be able to afford to do business.
Brian Crawford August 16, 2011 at 07:33 PM
I'm afraid I'm going to have to call "shenanigans" on your Harry Reid story. Sounds like a tall tale to me. I've searched high and low and can't find anything on it. If you have a source or link it would be much appreciated.
Brian Crawford August 16, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Sorry to hear about the loss of more US jobs but I doubt your company's migration of Engineering and Technical Support jobs overseas has anything to do with taxation. I'm sure it did wonders for the bottom line though. We have to stop trading people for profits.
TheLaw August 16, 2011 at 08:10 PM
You are correct. This specific comment I made had nothing to do with raising of taxes on corporations. They are looking for cheaper ways to provide the service due to the regulations and stipulations that are put on them by the government. These increase the cost of bringing the product to the consumer and make it harder to compete in our market space.
TheLaw August 16, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Yeah, I made it all up. I've only been factual with every other piece of information I have posted, I just simply decided to come up with some "tall tale" for this one. Continue copying and pasting your liberal talking points, I am moving on.
Brian Crawford August 16, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Just to be clear, I wasn't accusing you of making stuff up. Quite often such stories have no basis if fact but make their way into our national discourse and are passed along among friends the way urban myths are. Also, I don't know where one finds "liberal talking points" but I wouldn't copy and paste them if I did.
Brian Crawford August 16, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Nobody thinks raising taxes will solve the whole problem, but I believe it's the right place to start. We have never fought wars before without some way of paying for them and we are currently engaged in the two longest wars in our history while LOWERING taxes. You can't run a country like that. I'm for letting the Bush tax cuts expire, all of them. If that means you and I pay another $300 or $400 a year so be it. I'm no deadbeat. I also think we need a progressive surtax on the wealthiest Americans, at least to pay off our war debt. The next step to solving deficits is job creation, another huge revenue driver. After all of that there are certainly spending cuts to be had; plenty of waste, fraud, and abuse for example. There is absolutely no need to solve our debt problem by cutting essential services.
North Georgia Weather August 16, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Mr Crawford, the last item on your list to solve the debt problem is reduce spending... not reduce waste, etc, actually reduce spending. THAT is a liberal point of view. I don't want to pay another penny to the government for anything since they have proved that so far that they don't know how to manage what they already have. Our entitlement programs are sinking the ship, it's a fact that everyone knows about and no one wants to do anything about.
Brian Crawford August 16, 2011 at 11:56 PM
In response to your comment posted below, I'm assuming the entitlement programs you're referring to are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicade. Social Security has been wildly successful and is a model retirement program. Far from being broke, the SS trust fund has a surplus of $2.5 trillion. In fact before this past year, SS has run a surplus every year since it's inception. It's true that in order to maintain it's long term solvency there will need to be adjustments to the program but there are several different approaches that can solve this without cutting benefits or raising the retirement age. Medicare/Medicade have also been very successful in their delivery of services but do face some extraordinary fiscal challenges due to the explosion of medical costs over the last decade. Privatization of these programs would be a disaster and cutting benefits is unpalatable. The only way to save these programs is to find a way to control costs and I firmly believe that ultimately means a single payer system...but that is a topic for another time.
GwinnettWeather August 24, 2011 at 09:36 PM
And tell me how they don't know how to exploit the system http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/08/24/woman-allegedly-arranged-sex-between-husband-and-child-to-claim-more-benefits/?test=latestnews
Brian Crawford August 24, 2011 at 09:54 PM
You can't seriously believe that women inducing their husbands to impregnate their daughters to gain more public assistance is a rampant problem, can you? If you read the original article I dare say from their pictures that we're dealing with the shallow end of the gene pool. Is it just me or does it seem like these stories always come from Florida? If you're worried about folks gaming the system, personally I'm much more concerned about the Hedge Fund managers that swindled us out of $ billions than I am a few isolated meth heads from Gator Country.
North Georgia Weather August 24, 2011 at 09:57 PM
Read it and weep. If there is one there is more. And Brian, out of the 20 million or so that aren't out of jobs but on welfare, I'm thinking what you said is true. This is what you breed when you allow the government to take care of people. I just don't understand why you don't see that.
TheLaw August 24, 2011 at 10:26 PM
This is 100% a problem here in America. The government, as they planned, make more and more people dependent on them, instead of being independent, by the programs and freebies they create. Women that are not married have more children in order to get more money from the government. They send their children to school without paying the taxes the school needs to educate the children because they are low income parents. The children aren't nourished properly with the "food stamps" that the government is giving these women because they aren't being used to feed the children. These children grow up in a broken home, often plagued with drugs and crime, and they grow up to repeat those mistakes their parent (s) made before them. It then becomes an issue multiplied as each of these 6 or 7 children have 6 or 7 of their own and so forth. Can you find an example of one child that grew up in this environment that "made it out", sure but there are a hundred more that didn't. The programs and plans that are put in place to help those that actually need help, become used and abused and you end up with leaches that play the game to get the most while doing the least and it gets worse with every generation.. keeping in mind that with these types of people, generations aren't numbered by 30 years, they are numbered by 14 or 15 as they have children reproducing children.
North Georgia Weather August 24, 2011 at 10:56 PM
I wish I had this article in another form, it's an image but worth reading. http://www.daculaweather.com/stuff/ATT00063.jpg
lee kellogg August 25, 2011 at 04:34 PM
If your company has or ever has been given tax incentives or tax cuts for capital expenditures or tax rebates for normal activities, you are a socialist. If you use any government services, roads, water, power, police, fire, or the military, you are a socialist. If you have been to an airport of been on an airplane, you are a socialist. If you have received or plan to receive social security, or medicare, you are a socialist. National or state parks; socialist. Income tax refund. There are lots of good reasons the Tea Party is the most reviled group in the USA, more so than atheists and Muslims: they worship fox news, they only like government services they enjoy, they refer to Americans as "breeds", and soon, eventually the thumping will start. Bachman, Palin, and Perry thump on the stump, soon enough they'll be out in the streets with Glen Beck, thumping away. Brian, I wish you well when the thumping starts.
TheLaw August 25, 2011 at 04:49 PM
WOW! Someone more confused than Mr. Crawford. Never thought I'd see that on here. How does a company I work for, or their choices, make me a socialist? How do you compare people who worked all of their lives, paying countless dollars into SS/Medicare using those services with people who have paid little to no money in, receiving the same services, often 100% free? How am I a socialist if I receive back a small portion of the thousands and thousands of dollars I pay into State and Federal taxes back at the end of the year? The Federal Government is supposed to provide select, certain functions and nothing more. The State Government is supposed to provide select, certain functions and nothing more. Our Representatives are supposed to represent us, the people who elect them and they are supposed to abide by our wishes (votes) not their own agendas. The Government has no business bailing out companies that did not run themselves well enough to succeed. They should not support car manufacturers and offer incentives to trade in your clunker. They should not be funding "artists". The list goes on, and on and on.... Liberals are the group that loves to categorize people. It's how they quantify diversity. Must hire women, must employee blacks. A person that does not believe the Government should provide these types of services is clearly not a socialist. A person who post the kind of dribble you just did, is clearly not informed. I wish you AND Mr. Crawford well come 2012!!!
lee kellogg August 25, 2011 at 08:04 PM
Send your kids to private schools, did you anonymous internet poster? High school and college football stadiums, basketball arenas, any other public buildings. Governments pay for a lot of stuff that no other entity can, I understand you believe a lot of those things aren't worth the money. You only get one vote. If you're unhappy the Federal government saved General Motors and Chrysler Corps. from bankruptcy, your priorities are goofy. If you don't love America and the way it runs, go somewhere else. I'd like to know what government you approve of. If the government funds your activities, you are a socialist. You don't want to pay taxes? Don't. Oh, and the National Weather Service is government funded and run; pure socialism.
TheLaw August 25, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Nice reply Mr. Kellogg, even though it really has nothing to do with what I said. I don't think you'll find anywhere I stated I don't want to pay taxes. I am unhappy that they bailed out private business of ANY kind. That is not the job of the Government. I also never said I don't love America. In fact, you are very mistaken if you believe that to be the case. I love what America is supposed to stand for but our country has gotten lost. Our priorities as a nation are wrong and it's people like you have put us here. You are correct in that I have one vote, just as you do. The sad part is that your vote cancels my vote out. Hopefully many more informed people will show up this voting season and outnumber ill-informed people like you. You can tell the National Weather Service is government funded. Just look at all the left wing biased shows are shown on that channel. I like how you continue to point out all the things that are Government funded because you are simply proving my point. Why does the National Government need to be involved in telling us the weather? At least your partially correct in your statement about sending the kids to private school.
TheLaw August 25, 2011 at 08:35 PM
I certainly DO send my children to private school and I will continue to do so. This way, they have a much better chance of succeeding...Of course it would be much easier if I wasn't bailing out Chrysler, paying for some "artist" to wipe poop on a canvas and call it art, paying for signs to be posted on the highway to show how much of my money they are spending, etc. etc. Please continue to point out other Government waste if you feel like it. You make it a lot easier for me to prove my point.
lee kellogg August 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM
The National Weather Service doesn't have a "show." If you mean the Weather Channel and thinks it's liberal, you've wobbled off the edge of the flat world. Chrysler and GM turned profits and have or will soon pay back all the loans. If you love America, wishing to see all those workers unemployed is not a great way to show it. And of course, the elite, expensive private school. What is it they teach there that attracts you? America should have the best public schools in the world. It doesn't because conservatives don't want education for everyone, so they whine about taxes. Your point, anonymous internet poster, is that you are greedy, backwards, and afraid of America.
North Georgia Weather August 25, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Don't get me started about the Weather Channel. Sounds like someone has an anger management issue.
TheLaw August 26, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Mr. Kellogg, deny deny deny all you want, believe what you wish. The facts remain and as I stated before, I'm just glad that my vote will cancel your vote out. You call private schools elite, again as you try to categorize people into groups. I choose private school for many reasons. One major influence is the fact that my wife has taught advanced classes at private and at public schools. The differences are night and day, with most issues public schools face caused by the bureaucracy that is our government school system. I'd spend my time stating facts and things that can be proven but you just reply that they aren't true and deny my statements so I will not waste my time doing so. I do agree that America should have the best public schools in the world but instead we have one of the worst systems. The cause of that however is not because I pay my hard earned money to send my kids to private school, because I still pay all the taxes to send my kids to a public school they do not attend. Please find proof to back your statement that conservatives don't want to education for everyone. I'll await your response on that. Finally, as you continue to point out that I choose not to use my real name on internet forums and message boards, it is not because I am somehow trying to hide behind some internet cloak, but rather I am very versed and informed of what one can do with even the slightest information found on the internet to someone.
lee kellogg August 26, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Two anonymous internet posters, one who uses the National Weather Service on his web site, while whining about taxes, and who can't read: I wasn't the one who called the Weather Channel liberal. Another poster, Mr. Orr, honors 17th Century political and economic philosophy, but he uses his name. You may be very versed, but you are also very close to making a threat. You have stated you are in favor, during the worst economic crisis since the Depression; Herbert Hoover, Republican extraordinary, of abandoning American factory workers. Those women and men work as hard, at least, as you do, and are consumers; citizens we need right now. As are government workers, who you also can't abide in your "every man for himself" screeds. Again, what is it they teach in the elite private school that they don't in public school, which at least in Norcross are very good. Could it be so called , intelligent design?
North Georgia Weather August 26, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Mr. Kellogg, I'm not anonymous, do a search on Patch and you'll find out who I'm. I post under a name that will promote my website, that's all. I'll be happy to meet you in person if you so desire. Then you can say all of your hateful trash to my face. I look forward to it. I read very well also. I didn't say you called the Weather Channel liberal, I said don't get me started on the Weather Channel, I think it's you that can't read. And did you hear me complain about taxes? Certainly not in any post I made to you.
TheLaw August 26, 2011 at 07:28 PM
Sorry it took me so long to respond Mr. Kellogg. I was too busy laughing at what your definition of a threat is. Now that I am over that, I noticed that you failed to reply with any proof to back up your statements, or any quotes of where I said I didn't want to pay taxes, etc.. I'll patiently wait for you to respond with some data and facts that back your statements or debunk the items we have discussed here. Until then, here is an article you can practice your reading skills on. Since you are so worried about the American worker, let's take a look at Illinois. The state was on an upward trend for private employment of American workers until Jan 2011, and suddenly, the employment rate took a sharp dip downward and continues to fall. What caused this you may ask - well the state announced plans to increase the personal income tax rate by 67% and the corporate rate by 46%. Quoting from the article now - "Illinois lost more jobs during the month of July than any other state in the nation, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report. After losing 7,200 jobs in June, Illinois lost an additional 24,900 non-farm payroll jobs in July." So let's see - raise taxes to increase revenue right? That will fix the problems we are in as a country and that surely will get more American's back to work, right? Apparently, the FACTS and DATA prove otherwise.
TheLaw August 26, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Here is the link to the article - you know, a source of where the data comes from Mr. Kellogg - http://blog.heritage.org/2011/08/24/illinois-loses-most-jobs-in-nation-following-massive-tax-increase/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FoundryConservativePolicyNews+%28The+Foundry%3A+Conservative+Policy+News.%29
horsesense January 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM
"Stop Saying America is Broke" The United States is broke!!!!

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