Mike Thomas: Lack of leadership on budget issues is frightening

5:23 PM, Apr. 1, 2013  |  Comments

There has been a lot of concern since the beginning of 2013 with terms we're all too familiar with like "fiscal cliff," "sequestration," "debt ceiling" and "national debt."

We've been so bombarded with these terms that some of us have become numb and, what's worse, apathetic to the serious situation that our country faces with our increasing debt.

Some feel that the government will eventually figure it out and that someone will step in to save us, and that there are safety nets in place to make sure no one gets hurt.

This is a very dangerous philosophy that was repeated in most of the great civilizations, just before they fell into decline from which they never recovered.


Rome was a perfect example of what happens when you don't have effective leadership and morals and values decline. You crumble from within, still holding on to the mistaken idea that this couldn't happen to this great country, until it's too late to change the outcome.

We as a nation are at that point and need true leadership to change our course and seriously address our financial situation. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama hasn't provided that leadership to work with Congress to craft a solution.

A big part of the problem is that the president has no experience in this area and seems more interested in polarizing the country and what his legacy will be. He should use the techniques of two past presidents, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, as a model of how to get things done in a political environment.

Both of them were former governors and realized you had to compromise to get a solution that was workable and supported by both sides.

Congress needs to understand that you can't get 100 percent of what you want. In business, we call it Parato's Law. Basically, it says that 20 percent of the activities will produce 80 percent of the results.

Washington should take its queue from families that face financial decisions every day. They have a budget and adjust their activities as their situation changes.

I'm reminded of two of my children who got into trouble with credit cards and car loans. Most parents have been through this at some time with our kids and we bailed them out. However, we didn't say to them, "Oh, don't worry; just try not to spend as much."

If we had done that, our children wouldn't have learned a valuable lesson about accountability for your actions. We were very clear that we would help one time but that they were on their own after that. They learned that lesson and now understand financial responsibilities.

Our elected officials need to do the same thing. We're becoming a nation dependent on entitlements and safety nets that we can't afford.

Yes, it'll be painful, as it was painful to address this in my own family. I'm reminded of a line in an old Eagles song that addressed the entitlement attitude of a growing percentage of our nation. The line is, "You don't want to work. You want to live like a king. The big bad world doesn't owe you and thing. Get over it!"

We're at a critical crossroads in our nation's history. We need leadership that's willing to sit down and craft a solution to change our course.

Reid Ribble, our congressman from the 8th District, has been trying to do that by reaching across the aisle to come up with the decisions that we need to make. He has taken some criticism from the far right that he's abandoning his principles. His colleagues on the other side of the aisle have taken criticism from the far left that they have compromised too much.

We should be supporting this collaborative effort by these individuals because that's what it'll take to change our dangerous course.

It really boils down to the fact that we need real leadership from Obama to negotiate a solution to our problems. Since he can't talk to Reagan, he should consult with Clinton on how to navigate the political landscape to get things done.

Unfortunately, I feel his ego and the fact that he would rather campaign than collaborate will be a detriment to the leadership we need.

The picture of Nero fiddling while Rome burned comes to mind. Let's hope I'm wrong.

- Mike Thomas is a Grand Chute resident and a Post-Crescent Community Columnist. He can be reached at pcletters@postcrescent.com

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