Can we borrow our way to prosperity?

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Last November, I watched a program on PBS called “Surviving the Dust Bowl.” People were interviewed on their experiences during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

With regard to free government assistance (not to be confused with Social Security, which is something you pay into) that was offered to some Dust Bowl victims, the narrator said, “The sturdy people who settled this country were not leaners, residents insisted, yet most had no choice but to suffer the humiliation of relief checks and food handouts.”

One of those interviewed was asked about her experience with the handouts. She said, “I think dad would have let us eat pretty poorly before he would have accepted any help, he thought that it was his job, he was the breadwinner of the family and it was a disgrace for him to let someone else come in and take care of his family.”

The victims of the Dust Bowl, who included minorities, clearly had attitudes that are very different from today with regards to charity.

The question now is were the “sturdy” Americans who were born before 1945 delirious?

Meaning, those people, when they were young, said it was hard work, personal responsibility and cash on the barrel that made America prosperous, unlike many Americans today who believe prosperity comes from the government’s ability to borrow huge amounts of money and freely give it away.

And if hard work does matter, why are many of the handouts given by government based on income alone and not a combination of income and the reason for the low income?

Politicians borrow over a $1 trillion every year and the main reason why they can get away with it (for now) is because of the awesome credit rating left to us by those Americans born before 1945.

Time will tell. Can the vast majority of Americans live a prosperous life by simply voting in politicians who love borrowing and giving away free money? Or is America’s prosperity dependent on education, hard work, individual responsibility, entrepreneurship, saving and investment?

Currently, there is a huge debate going on between the few who believe that, no, you cannot borrow your way to prosperity and the many who feel you can.

In the next few years the debate will finally be over and everyone of us will be able to answer that question with great ease.

Richard Strozinsky

Walla Walla

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