I have enjoyed contributing my opinion to American Machinist every month, and the opportunity to “inform” our industry about the realities of what is going on in Washington. My October column, “Will We Give It All Away,” expressed my concern that we are going to give away our country, if we aren’t careful. Among all the responses, just one reader disagreed with me, but nevertheless agreed that we need to have “serious debate.” That’s not going on in Washington today, but since American Machinist doesn’t present “letters to the editor,” I thought I’d copy some of that lone negative response, so he can air his point of view.
“I read your article … and I had to laugh at the hypocrisy,” he began. “First using Khrushchev’s quote to demonize the present administration and then stating that 40% of Americans receive some sort of Federal aid, because we all know that is what’s killing the country. Just to be ‘fair and balanced’ why don’t you give us the ‘facts’ on how many businesses receive Federal assistance through tax breaks and credits while the rest of us pick up the tab?”
My friend misunderstood me. I didn’t say those on Federal assistance was what was killing this country. I’ve known people that have been on assistance and for a lot of them, it’s needed. But. I also know that there are billions of dollars wasted every year by people working the system, getting money they don’t deserve. The recent ACORN fiasco exposes a group organized to do just that.
We cannot afford to keep growing the federal government while losing jobs in the private sector. I think we should reconsider tax breaks for large corporations. Unfortunately, many of those tax breaks also help smaller companies to remain competititive. Maybe Congress will look in to that? Taxpayers fund all of it. That’s the very reason why we can’t continue the practice.
Next, my friend criticized me for daring to address the number of illegal aliens receiving benefits paid for by taxpayers:
“… Go after those defenseless people on welfare, lastly point out that all those foreigners are getting stuff for free and they’re not even American. Oh and most importantly, do it while waving the American flag while remembering 9/11 and bellowing to take back America. Well, we’ve taken back America, back from the pack of liars and thieves that hijacked it for the past eight years.”
I welcome the immigrants who arrive here legally, work hard, and pay taxes. I spent many years living outside the U.S. and I know hard life is in many underdeveloped nations. I also know that many people who have entered the U.S. legally and approached citizenship the right way don’t appreciate others who don’t take the legal approach.
In more concrete terms, I recommend a visit to some of the counties in our Southwestern states that are overwhelmed by illegal immigration. The term “breaking the law” has to mean something, doesn’t it? Hospitals, welfare agencies, schools and other services are being strained, and compromised by excess demand. If it isn’t brought under control, those services won’t be available for anyone.
Next came his big conclusion: “Wealth is finite … if Wall Street is paying out huge bonuses that money comes out of someone else’s pocket, most likely ‘Joe Working Class.’ ”
It’s a pity our educational system doesn’t do a better job of teaching students how businesses really work. If “Wall Street” is paying huge bonuses, then the money ought to be coming out of the pockets of those that invested money in Wall Street. The bonuses should not be funded by tax revenue.
I believe it has been those officials now in office who have given taxpayers’ money to Wall Street. I’d also point out to my correspondent that the jobs he endorses and anticipates resulting from an expanded government will be funded by taxpayers’ money — including taxes paid by Joe working class, who he claims to defend with such passion.
But, there’s more to this exchange than the specific details in debate. My correspondent used some time-honored tactics: First, insult your opponent, and then change the subject. The point of my column was that our freedoms have been paid for with the blood of heroes. We must value their sacrifice even as we cherish our freedoms. We must be careful about what we allow to happen as our government expands, and asserts more control of our personal and business activities.
I should note that my correspondent is not a company owner; he’s a worker, like most of us. I hope that if government expansion threatened the viability of any of his plans or enterprises, he’d oppose that too. Our current leaders do not recognize small manufacturing as a worthy contributor to their project. For them, we’re an easy target to fund for their excessive spending. Manufacturing jobs, including my correspondent’s, will be lost if all this continues.
I appreciate my correspondent’s response because open debate is what America ought to be about, and what is threatened by an aggressive government. When elected representatives aim to legislate so fast that there can be no debate, we have lost a fundamental principle of our democracy. We must examine all these changes, before we “give it all away.”
Contact James R. Grosmann at the National Tooling & Machining Assn., [email protected].