Friday Report: Trickling up
July 15, 2011
There was a time when America really was One Nation Under God. Nowadays, I don’t know what in the world we could call ourselves, but it sure wouldn’t be United. Mindless rhetoric and talking points have bullied honest discourse and studied debate out of the room.
Let’s roll back some 70 years. In 1942, there was a call to war and America answered in one voice. Major problem, we had no rubber.
Early in the war, Japan seized the Dutch East Indies, cutting off 90 percent of America’s rubber supply. What to do? Well, we dragged worn-out garden hoses, raincoats, rubber shoes, old tires and bathing caps to neighborhood collection bins, and we did it in staggering amounts. You did it, your neighbor did it, grim-faced maybe, but everybody did it because there was a war on.
You were allowed only four tires per family. If you had a second car with tires still mounted, you could be denied your weekly gas ration. Each weekly ration coupon was exchanged for four gallons of gas. That’s all the average family got. Four gallons a week. Pleasure driving was forbidden. 35 mph was the “Victory Speed” mainly for the conservation of tires.
Clothing was redesigned with shorter hems, sleeves, collars and cuffs to cut 15 percent of their yardage to free up the mills to make necessary war materials.
Meat, cheese, butter, oils, canned fruits, beans, baby food and ketchup were among items closely rationed. One member of the family went weekly to a local school to get ration stamps to exchange at the grocer. Food and commodity prices were frozen. Used cooking oil was collected at the local butcher for refinement and re-use. Everybody sacrificed and very few complained. A common poster of the time read, “Do with less, so they’ll have enough.”
Nowadays, we have wars and, unless they’re directly involved, Americans hardly notice. Unless you’re in the war, you don’t sacrifice anything, you don’t go without anything or even skimp on anything. In today’s thinking, we don’t even pay anything for them.
Whether you think the War on Drugs is won or lost, it has cost over $1 trillion. The cost of the War in Iraq is $800 billion and counting. We’ve borrowed $450 billion to fund our War in Afghanistan, spending nearly two and a quarter trillion dollars on these three wars.
Since this is my column, I’ll throw in the cost of the Wall Street Bailout, or as I call it, the War on the Middle Class. That cost us $2 trillion at the low end of estimates. That’s a grand total of four-and-a-quarter trillion dollars, or about one-third of the current National Debt, standing at $14 trillion and change.
It’s just nuts to think we can make these kinds of expenditures on borrowed money without paying it back.
In the backdrop of record unemployment and the worst financial crisis in history, in 2010, the number of millionaires in America, defined as a family having a liquid million in the sugar bowl, jumped 10 percent to a total of 3,100,000 American millionaires.
2010 also added 77 new American billionaires for a whopping total of 403 Americans with a net worth exceeding a billion dollars. That’s a one, followed by nine zeros. How’s your bank account look?
Let’s extend those tax breaks. Maybe by next year we can boast of 4 million millionaires and 500 billionaires along with the biggest national debt in the world!
Wait a second, we’ve already got that last one.