Monday, October 25, 2010

Food for Thought as Election Day 2010 Approaches

You can relax. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for on Tuesday, November 2. But, there are some serious issues you should keep in mind when you go into the voting booth.

First, there are a few good candidates on both sides of the aisle. But, there are also some real fruitcakes seeking office! Consider your choices and remember that no egotist or wacko ever led America to a better place. Be prudent when you vote and realize that we are in the midst of a major generational change. One colleague expressed it to me this way. “It’s the establishment against the new age. We can either forge ahead through some rough terrain or surrender our future as well as our hopes and dreams to the special interests in Washington and Wall Street who only care about lining their wallets, and go backwards.” By the way, this comment is from a registered Republican.

I think my colleague accurately reflects the feelings and emotions of so many Americans who are sick and tired of being screwed over by the establishment. This candid assessment on the part of a 34 year-old got me thinking. Our economy is still a mess. We spent hundreds of millions of dollars bailing out the very people who deceived us and now they’re planning to pay themselves over $150 Billion in bonuses according to news accounts! What gives?

To make matters worse, more than 30% of all homeowners are upside down in terms of how much they owe on their mortgages and what their homes are actually worth. It’s reported that 22% of all homeowners face the threat of foreclosure. At the same time, banks and other mortgage lenders are seizing homes using underhanded -- and possibly -- illegal methods instead of working with homeowners to help them stay in their homes, repay their mortgages, maintain their neighborhoods and continue to pay local property taxes. Doesn't that make more sense? Apparently not to bankers!

With regard to unemployment, the figures are dismal. 60 Minutes reported last week that more than 27% of the American workforce is either unemployed, under-employed, surviving on government welfare programs or they’ve quit looking for a job.

Yes, Congress is spineless, beholden to special interests and deserves to be ousted. And, yes, for better or for worse, President Obama has pushed through Wall Street reform, a health care initiative that will insure another 14 million uninsured Americans, and signed major consumer protection legislation to protect citizens from credit card vultures and unscrupulous financial institutions.

As my colleague noted, “It doesn’t seem like we’re making much progress, but from my perspective, we’ve taken a number of baby steps in the past two years, and we’re moving in the right direction.” I agree. Many of these reforms are long overdue and will keep us moving forward as a nation and a society.

Now, if we could only figure out how to retire at age 60 like the French, we’ve have it made! What’s that? The French are raising the national retirement age to 62! OMG! We’re doomed!

About the Author.
Thomas Hinton is president of the American Consumer Council, a non-profit consumer education organization with more than 100,000 members in 44 states. He can be reached at: