Election issues are like an unending drum beat: Family, jobs and national security. There’s nothing’s really new in the world of politics except personalities and here we are again. I was reminded of the same ‘ole, when I reviewed my Election Day column from six years ago. It’s worth sharing, again. Take note of what folks stressed over, even then:
Political harangue is ear trash. I can’t wait for Election Day to pass, which doesn’t mean I don’t cherish the voting privilege, but, hey, even the strongest among us wear down.
Belly-aching is held sacred in this nation, and for sure, there’s plenty of reason to grouse, but the most puzzling issue is over the economy. That, at a time our national unemployment is under five-percent and doing even better in Arizona.
Note the crowds at restaurants and the soaring stock market. Note that most “poor” Americans, as defined by the Census Bureau, “have a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, a microwave, two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo.” With few exceptions, their families are not hungry and in the past year they had sufficient funds to meet essential needs as per Heritage.org research.
So, what’s the problem? A desire by special interests for a more socialistic government, providing more handouts. American generosity is well known, but even we must remember the price of feeding at the public trough.
Observe Germany, which was once a world power: Its citizens trapped themselves in the “fear of freedom.” A report from Die Welt, a national German newspaper, claims that Germans have become “apathetic and lazy.” That acknowledged by the head of the Social Democratic Party.
It’s estimated one-third of Germans lag far behind the rest — most unemployed, others underemployed. The report points out: “Worse, they lack initiative — only now we are coming to realize that the ‘benevolent paternalism’ of a generous government did more harm than good.”
Certain other European countries are suffering the same.
Now, take a leap back into the roots of America’s success, deeply anchored in resolve and personal sacrifice. Ever heard of Muhammad Yunus? Earlier this month he won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Yunus is the founder of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and the king of “microfinance.” This man of vision understands the human power of determination, not yet stilled by the ready breast milk of government.
As we know, microfinance is the buzz in developing countries. Small loans are provided to the poor, who then turn profits from simple crafts and services.
In Yunus’ case, 30 years ago his first loan was $27 to a group of Bangladeshi women who made bamboo furniture. As of now, $5.7 billion, nearly every dime paid back, has been loaned to the poor.
Yunus told Nobelprize.org: “People can change their own lives, provided they have the right kind of institutional support. They’re not asking for charity, charity is no solution to poverty.”
When asked why he doesn’t just “give” the money to those in need, Yunus pointed out that humanitarian aid gets lost on its way down to the poor.
In the Wall Street Journal, he suggested that microlending should be used to help Katrina victims, many who were already poor. Giving a “hand-up is much better than a hand-out,” he said, and keeps self-respect intact.
I like the way Yunus thinks; just like me. (Oh lighten up.) He’s telling us there really is no free lunch. When social benefits multiply, along with our taxes, and Democrats promise both, our economy flattens (and now, six years later, is on the brink of collapse). So we can choose: Pay with our sweat and ingenuity now or give in to catastrophic paternalism. Just something to think about on Election Day.
East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.