“I know we’ve come along way.
We’re changing day to day.
But tell me, where do the children play?”
(Where do the children play? – Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam – 1970)
Much has been made this election cycle about the future of our children and grandchildren, mostly by the newly fiscally responsible Republicans that are suddenly and inexplicably against debt and deficits. Great! It is certainly encouraging that the Party of “Deficits Don’t Matter!” has finally seen the light.
Just don’t ask them why they didn’t do something about deficits and debt when they held power. That is “looking at the past and besides, the Democrats made us do it.”
In 1980, I briefly considered a vote for Ronald Reagan for President because he promised (!) to balance the Federal budget. I blame it on an LSD flashback from the Sixties. Of course, Reagan never came close to balancing the budget and, in fact, tripled the National Debt. The truth is, a Republican president has never even proposed a balanced Federal budget since Ike. Let me think, that is, let’s see, um, ………………………. a long damned time.
Debt and deficits have been hashed and rehashed ad nauseam, so we’ll not do it again here. When the “other side” rails against the “highest deficits and debt in history” feel free to remind them that while the deficit is approaching 10% of the GDP in 2010, it reached 30% during World War II. The debt shortly after the War was at 130% of GDP, far above the current level of less than 90%.
It is completely reasonable to remind people of those facts, given that the country is in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression – an economic collapse that was not ended until the War was well underway. Unemployment reached 25% during the Depression. It topped out around 10% during the Great Recession.
The point is that we are not destroying the future for our children and grandchildren. Without TARP and the Stimulus Bill, the economy would have likely slid into another depression, and that would have left a horrible disaster for our heirs.
So, where do the children play? Well, if we want to truly focus on an answer to that question, we would do well to consider the state of our schools, environment and our place in the world. Bumper stickers slogans are handy for those in the bumper sticker industry, but they do little to address the problems of the nation. We need to take faux emotion out of the equation and use real-world facts and figures.
William Stephenson Clark
(Thread photo is the author’s grandson, Eli.)