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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Happy New Year, America? | 12-31-2012
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1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]


The Real Side | Commentary by Joe Messina
| Monday, Dec 31, 2012

mug_joemessinaIt’s the day before the holiest day in the lives of football freaks and parade aficionados alike – New Year’s. The Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade usher in a new year of – well, wait, let’s finish 2012. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

By the end of 2012, I will have completed almost 250 shows, written more or less 100 columns or blog posts, and wolfed down about 80 hot dogs from Wienerschnitzel.

I will have seen our economy flat-lined at less than 2 percent GDP growth and our real unemployment rate hanging in at 14.6 percent. This doesn’t account for the countless Americans who are taking jobs earning considerably less than they were making, not to mention millions of Americans who just gave up.

One out of every four houses in major metropolitan areas is in foreclosure. The U.S. credit rating has dropped for the first time in – forever. Our deficit has tripled in four short years. Millions of Americans are living on food stamps, and almost 46 million more are living under the poverty level.

Americans are giving up. Something is not right.

The person who does not work and receives government assistance often makes more money than a median-income person. How is it possible that a person who is receiving public assistance still gets services amounting to more than $40,000 a year?

When you add up what they receive in food stamps, Medicaid services and cash assistance, it adds up to $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Is anyone wondering why so many don’t want to work? A person who makes $33,000 to $40,000 per year really sees just $19,000 to $24,000 after taxes. But when you go for services, you are told you “make too much.” You don’t make enough money to survive, but you make too much to receive services. You can barely make ends meet. Why bother getting up every day to go to a job that pays so little when you can make more with government assistance?

So, to beat poverty, you simply need to go on government aid. How do we move forward when things are this backward? Wouldn’t it be better for government to encourage people to take on ANY job and assist them a little bit if needed to bridge the gap?

Thousands of businesses are closing down. Between the economy, taxes, health care mandates and out-of-control regulation, it’s just too hard to be a business owner and survive, let alone succeed.

We can’t drill for oil. Manufacturing plants can’t open because we can’t import needed metals because of regulations. We are living in a global economy and are regulating ourselves out of business.

Case in point: It’s cheaper and easier to build the Volt battery in Taiwan than in America (where our president says we need to be more green-friendly). So he loaned GM money to build the Volt to save the car industry and further green energy, essentially putting many of GM’s workers out of a job (in the middle of a recession), bankrupting many GM re-investors and sending the green battery manufacturing services to Taiwan. Makes sense to me. Not.

The president said earlier this year, “Small business is doing well.” Really? Which small businesses was he speaking of? Look at the local strip malls and commercial industrial areas. Many are empty. Bankruptcy is up with small business owners.

It must be backwards year.

The cliff is in sight, no matter what they agree on. But 2013 can’t get any worse – really? Many economists say that there is another recession coming in 2013, maybe even a depression.

Current GDP is at a level that can’t even sustain the recession we are in now. (Yes, we are still in a recession.) We are extremely dependent on Europe’s economy. As of November, Greece alone has more than 11 million people, and only 4.7 million are working. They need to borrow $30 billion-plus to pay their bills for the next few months until a permanent plan can be worked out. Sounds like they are taking a lesson from our legislators. Oh, and Japan, which we rely on heavily, has government debt that is 230 percent of its GDP.

Here at home, the foreclosure problem has only just begun. Banks have been holding back. Just you wait.

Rising health care costs, stronger regulations, more stringent oil drilling regulations, more foreclosures looming, and a severe shortage of jobs … Happy New Year?

 

Joe Messina is host of The Real Side (TheRealSide.com), a nationally syndicated talk show that runs on AM-1220 KHTS radio and SCVTV [here]. He is also an elected member of the Hart School Board. His commentary publishes Mondays.

 

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