It’s All About the Money, Money, Money…Cha-ching, Cha-ching

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Harvey D. Kart

One billion dollars.

That’s what some experts are predicting it may take to win a presidential election in 2012. Compare that to 1980, when federal election laws limited former presidents, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, to about $29.4 million each.

I am not an economist. I sometimes have a difficult enough time figuring out what I’m doing with my own financials. But I can tell you that a billion dollars is a whole lot of spending money. In fact, I would have to give 1,000 people, $1,000 per day for three years, to equal that amount.

Forget that billion dollars. Look at our current debt—it’s approaching $14 trillion. Now, there’s some discussion about raising the debt ceiling—which is akin to you or I calling our credit card company requesting another line of credit.

While there is an extraordinary amount of money being spent in three wars, political campaigns, corporate bailouts, severance pays to CEOs, and tax breaks for large corporations, there are still many people in our country who are unemployed. There are also many young, promising graduates who are still looking to launch their careers, but can’t find meaningful employment. Families are losing their homes and their retirement plans. You don’t have to wonder why many people have become so cynical about the financial health of this country and their own future.

How did we get to this point in society? Are we becoming a society of haves and have-nots?

Look at the Pittsburgh region, as an example. We have a gorgeous, state-of-the-art, football stadium, baseball park, and hockey arena. A beautiful casino graces the river’s edge in the North Shore. But what about the infrastructure? Health insurance costs are rising making it unaffordable for millions of Americans. Home values have decreased. Roads and bridges are need of repair, but there are limited funds to take care of it. The city is talking about pension cuts to teachers and emergency services.

And it’s not just Pittsburgh—it’s happening everywhere. In some states, like Pennsylvania, funds for education are being slashed. During the recent federal government shutdown spectacle, there was talk of cutting programs such as social security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Yet, we have political candidates raising millions and millions of dollars. And we have the leader of the greatest country of the world having to spend as much as one billion dollars to keep his job. How much money do people out of work have to raise to even find a job?

I’m troubled by all of this because those who are doing well for themselves do not seem to care anymore.  They’re like rubberneckers, merely turning their head for a moment to see the wreck and then continuing along their way.  We lost the whole concept of what it is to be an American. We’re losing touch with what is important—family, friends, our health, but most especially, watching out for each other. We have lost these core values. If our grandparents and great-grandparents and others who came to Ellis Island could see America now, what would they say? Maybe we need to go to church twice a day since we have lost respect for our fellow man and cleanse our soul from that guilt.

We need to set aside our political differences, no matter what side of the fence we are on, and come together to help each other out of this financial mess we’ve created. If that happens, I remain cautiously optimistic that people will look down the road and ask themselves if this is where we are now, is this really where we want to be headed?

As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts.