Columnists

Definition of Insanity – and Voting

Not too long from now we’re going to head to the polls to once again put people in office who are the problem.

Think not? It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent or some other affiliation. Every election, We The People continually place or return to office politicians who routinely agree to spend more than they bring in.

I know, I know, we can couch that into a thousand different ways and we can use all sorts of fancy words and long-winded explanations, but that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it? We are electing Congressmen and women to positions of power while they demonstrate the fiscal integrity of a teen-ager on a shopping trip to the mall with mom and dad’s credit card.

Do you think any of them handle their own finances that way? Of the ones who are not career politicians, do you think they run their businesses that way?

And how is it that $31 trillion dollars in debt isn’t the hot topic every election?

I’ll tell you why. Because most of them don’t want to talk about it. And it’s understandable. $31 trillion has 12 zeroes in it. Who wants to talk about that?

Well, we should.

$31,000,000,000,000.

It even LOOKS like a lot.

Why are we not sick and tired of it? If our local officials were throwing us into the deep, dark abyss of debt that seems to have no bottom, we’d vote them out of office in a heartbeat . . . well, let’s leave Carmel out of it for now.

But we do it on the national level.

Every.

Single.

Time.

They all talk about it a lot when campaigning, don’t they? But once in office, they all act like there’s nothing they can do about this massive and crippling debt – well, not only that, but they then turn around and add to it. Oh sure, some of them rail and wail, wring their hands and gnash their teeth. That looks great in the papers and sounds good on TV and radio. But take a look at their voting record. Like my granddad used to say, what you’re doing speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.

Here’s the thing though. While I get the fact that a trillion bucks times 31 is a boatload of money, it doesn’t necessarily have to be insurmountable, does it?

Do you remember a few years ago when then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels struck a deal to lease a toll road in northern Indiana for almost $4 billion? The lease was for a long period, 75 years, and as it turned out, the overseas company that leased it has gone bankrupt. Good thing a bunch of that money was paid upfront, huh? (Nice work, Mr. Daniels!) If memory serves, those few billion bucks funded a lot of road work around the state and the negatives were pretty darn minimal.

Why couldn’t something similar work for the national debt? What if we leased more roads for gazillions of dollars? Contracts can be set that ensure tolls don’t go too high and that the overall condition of the roads must be maintained. (Besides, could potholes possibly get worse?)

Maybe we lease some national parks? Again, we’re not selling them, just letting someone else run them for a while. I can hear folks screaming now, but just remember, it’s not forever. And whatever terms we set will probably be shorter than the years it will take our grandkids and great-grandkids to pay off the debt we’re piling on them now.

Let’s not stop at parks. We have a ton of land. What if we sold some – especially the ones with major de-fund the police movements? What do you think we could get for California or Michigan or Minnesota?

Too much? OK, fine. How about selling drilling rights? Before folks scream about the ecology and global warming and all that, let’s keep in mind that a lot of the same folks who would line up to pay a pretty penny for those rights don’t exactly have stellar safety and environmental records where they currently operate. Why does that matter? Because when we shut down our domestic production, we gave those folks carte blanche to rape and pillage the earth anyway they want – and charge us an arm and a leg in the process. Besides, if we leased them the rights maybe they’d have to hire some of the same Americans who lost their jobs when we stopped U.S. production.

Here’s a thought. How about if we cut every single federal department 25 percent? C’mon, if anyone thinks they don’t have 25 percent fat that could be trimmed, well, I’ve got a newspaper company I would be happy to sell you. Cut the federal ones 25 percent, the state departments 10 percent and the local ones 5 percent. And if any struggle figuring out how to do that, call a small business owner. I guarantee you they could figure it out.

Still not enough? How about dividing what’s left by 66? There are 50 states and 16 territories. Seems fair that we all pony up our share. Heck, maybe we could even do it by population. No sense Indiana paying the same amount as California, Michigan, Texas and such. Oh wait, is that too much like the Electoral College? Sorry.

Maybe instead of trying our damndest to screw over the richest folks in the country, how about if we offer them a sweetheart deal? What if we told them that they and their corporations don’t have to pay taxes for the next 20 or so years – if they write a check with 12 zeroes in it today.

Just saying.

It won’t be enough that we do all this though. Somehow, someway, we are going to have to change who we hire/elect so they can’t spend us right back into the same hole.

The bottom line is that I’m not the smartest guy in the room, even when the room is really, really small. I’m just a newspaper vagabond with holes in the bottom of his Weejuns. But I know this – there are answers to the national debt. The first one is stop spending more than we have. The second is find ways to pay what we owe and the third is to not dig the hole again. Why is this never the conversation?

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Thursdays in The Times. Timmons is the chief executive officer of Sagamore News Media, the company that owns The Noblesville Times. He is also a proud Noblesville High School graduate and can be contacted at ttimmons@thetimes24-7.com.