Grannie Annie (she is everybody's Grannie Annie and she is my wife) had an epiphany today. Visiting with T.J. a National Guardsman recently returned from Afghanistan she asked if he had ever seen one of the ribbon crosses that she and her friends craft and send to her adopted Chaplains serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. T.J. told her that yes indeed he had seen them over there and how he had told his compatriots that he actually knew the lady that made them.
His response brought tears to her eyes and confirmed that all of her community efforts to send "care packages" to the troops were worth while. T.J. continued telling that he served at a bare bones forward operating base, no P.X., and the G.I.s really had a need for shampoo, soap and the other basic hygiene necessities that she and friends sent. He said our troops seem to receive a considerable amount of chewing gum and candy, a great portion of which they in turn share with the little Afghanistan children. It was the basic hygiene items that the G.I.'s needed but they greatly appreciated all the other goodies that people from home cared enough to send.
T.J.'s confirmation that sending a constant stream of boxes to her Adopt-A-Chaplain organization to distribute to the troops was well worth the community's effort. Grannie Annie has recently received communication from her new adopted Chaplain now serving in Eastern Afghanistan, no PX, and he confirmed a list of items that his GIs need. Chaplain Vineyard, the one that she recently served, has completed his year long tour of duty and he along with his unit have returned back home to Kentucky. And now a simple thank you from a soldier that has "been there and done that!" She now has renewed strength to double her efforts in the good work.
The recent debacle where we watched Congress fumbling around attempting to resolve a financial crisis was purely an American phenomenon. Actually the messy process was a good thing , designed into our form of government by those who wrote the U.S. Constitution. Those founders had lived under autocratic English rule and so created an intentionally weak federal government. The idea was to divide power among the president, the House of Representatives and the Senate, all of whom are elected to represent "we the people."
During the recent financial debacle it was the representatives sent to Congress by the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party who reared back and held firm against raising taxes. Unfortunately they tried hard but mostly failed at curbing excess spending. The end result was not much of a success for the true conservatives but it was a good start.
In Europe, then and now, decisions are made by an all powerful head of state and their legislative bodies then, most times, ratify that decision. The common people don't have much say in the matter and just have to put up with what comes down the pike.
In this country there has been a long time effort, since the 1930s, to strengthen the office of the presidency. President Roosevelt found that by distributing government money he could influence his constituency to vote to keep him in office. Members of Congress noted how good that system worked and shoveled pork for the same purpose and they too had great success over the years. Keynesian economics had great attraction for those in power because it was a way to shower down government money to those groups they favored in an attempt to "stimulate the economy". The Fed also jumped in by lowering the approved rate of interest on government bonds to near zero and what is that doing for your personal 401k retirement fund? The people in charge are about out of ideas and that brings to mind a quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher--"The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
To illustrate the problem I picked up this treatise from the Internet. I know not the author and can't vouch for its accuracy but like the way it reads.
"The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars. Few people know how much money that is so we created a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms. Let's put the 2011 federal budget into perspective:
U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000
Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)
It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to. Let's remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family.
Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700
Amount of money the Jones family spent: $38,200
Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Amount cut from the budget: $385
So in effect, last month Congress, or in this example the Jones family, sat down at the kitchen table and agreed to cut $385 from its annual budget. What family would cut $385 of spending in order to solve $16,500 in deficit spending?
It is a start, although hardly a solution."
The real solution is to elect good men/women to high office that will abide by the Constitution and put our fiscal house in order. Our future depends on it!
That is the way I saw it.