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Carlos B. Lopez, Constable

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Bruce Elfant

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Constable's Notebook - January 2009

The year 2008 began in the midst of an historic and unpredictable presidential campaign. It came to a close with the election of a new president who will face the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression. While we cannot predict what 2009 will bring, hopefully the recession will be less severe than expected. Assisting certain industries and providing an economic stimulus will help put more money (borrowed from foreign countries) back into the economy but simply treating the symptoms of a faltering economy will not be sufficient. That would be like taking aspirin to treat cancer. For a recovering economy to be able to sustain itself, we will have to lower our costs of doing business as a nation. We must become more energy independent, lower health care costs, reform the financial sector, better educate students to compete globally and manufacture more competitive products.

Abuses such as those in the financial sector that have cheated millions of Americans out of their homes, life savings and jobs must be curbed. Credit card companies should not be allowed to charge exorbitant interest rates and solicit to people they know will get behind in their payments. Pharmaceutical companies should not be shielded from competition that currently enables them to charge the highest prices for prescription drugs here in the United States. And the federal government should not pay wealthy farmers to not grow crops.

But not all blame rests with government and corporations. Too many Americans buy homes, cars and other products they cannot afford and too few have managed to set aside savings for hard times. When we buy foreign products, we are shifting wealth to foreign countries. As the most obese nation in the industrialized world, American productivity is less than that of many other nations while our costs to treat diabetes, cancer, etc. are much higher. Our “throwaway” society requires more landfills, wastes limited recyclable resources and creates dangerous and costly environmental hazards. All these things that make it more expensive to manufacture products and deliver services can no longer be sustained if we want to remain competitive with other nations.

President Kennedy said when he announced that the United States would send a man to the moon, “We do not do these things because they are easy but because they are hard.” Restructuring our economy, developing new technologies, reducing consumption and producing more marketable products will also be hard, but previous generations of Americans have conquered far more difficult challenges. Our shift from a primarily agrarian to an industrial society in the 1800’s was painful, but Americans sacrificed, moved to new locations, learned new trades, created new technologies and emerged as the industrial envy of the World. Future generations of Americans are counting on our government and its citizens to once again do the hard thing and prepare our nation to be competitive and prosperous for the next century.



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