Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu: One Reason Why Debt Matters

As swine flu creeps closer to my little corner of Progressive Paradise, I couldn't help hearing President Obama's advice that authorities at schools with confirmed or suspected cases of swine flu "strongly consider temporarily closing so that we can be as safe as possible" [emphasis mine].

Yes, I can see it now. A couple of kids in Obama's daughters' private schools get sent home with raging fevers and nausea; the next morning, Grandma Obama packs the Obama girls off to school with a couple of painter's masks solicitously tucked into their pockets and a loving admonition to cough toward their elbows. Uh huh.

What lurks at the core of President Obama's underwhelming concern for for the health of America's other schoolchildren? Perhaps a few uncomfortable facts that the administration would prefer American parents not to notice, if possible, because the administration has succeeded in making these facts seem boringly uncool.

Like the fact that border officials are putting on surgical masks to watch Mexicans leave Mexico, when Homeland Security was hoping they would be gearing up for big Cinco de Mayo celebrations following Obama's anticipated announcement of the his version of amnesty for the "undocumented." For open-border enthusiasts, the timing of the Mexican flu epidemic is not exactly ideal, one good reason for Obama to protest that the "entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations."

Another fact that the administration would prefer to remain in the who cares? category is that, during his supposedly victorious 100 days, Obama hasn't managed to fill many positions at Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control. Two days ago, with schoolchildren in New York City testing positive to swine flu, Kathleen Sebelius, supporter of late-term abortionist Tiller the Baby Killer, was confirmed to head the Department of Health and Human Services, leaving only 14 top health positions unfilled, including that of the full-time director for the CDC.

But the really big fact that Obama doesn't want Americans to focus on, I suspect, is the state of the American pocketbook. The stock market has been creeping up, but not as much as unemployment figures. The flu epidemic in Mexico is putting a hurt on our South-of-the-Border trading partners, and, as I write this post, many Texas schools and daycare centers are closed, keeping working parents home with the kids. Reducing production, paychecks, and tax revenues.

Those tax revenues are going to be desperately needed. After all, according to economist Martin Weiss, "In less than a year, the U.S. government alone has spent, lent, committed, or guaranteed over $8 trillion, sixteen times its biggest ever federal deficit." The taxpayer bailout to AIG, just one corporation, is said to have exceeded the entire value of the gold in Fort Knox. Yet, the U.S. economy shrank 6.1 percent last quarter.

It is precisely because unanticipated times of no work and no pay can be guaranteed to occur from time to time that, throughout history, prudent people and, occasionally, their governments used to "save for a rainy day."

That meant putting away cash and stockpiling food and other necessities to be taken out and used during a time of emergency. For many, saving for a rainy day has come to mean tucking away an extra credit card; in many households that "emergency credit card" has already been pressed into service and maxed out. The national debt has not been reversed since Dwight David Eisenhower did it 1956.

The deeper the debt hole we dig, individually and collectively, the harder it gets for us to make the kinds of choices we would prefer to make. And the greater the national debt, the harder it will become for individuals to put something away for a time of need.

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