To make this post more interesting I’m including some pictures taken on the island where I live.
Last Sunday I had one of those parties at my house to talk about the recovery that Obama sent out emails about. I usually just delete those, because there are so many of them and, after all, he got elected. But I caved in this time, thinking I should do something.
I only rounded up 3 couples besides Jerry and me. I have to admit I didn’t try too hard, and at first I hoped nobody would come. In the end I was glad I did it. Here’s the report I sent in to the web site I was given:
There were 4 couples present. Jerry and Anne, retired, 76 years old. Carl and Polly retired, early 80’s. Russ and Cathy, retired, early 60’s, Rich and Pat, early 60’s, Pat retired, Rich still working.
We began by discussing how the downturn has affected each of us personally.
All the men present had had small businesses in the past or present. Two of the women had had small businesses in the past or present.
All had been middle income white collar workers. The downturn has cost each of us about one third of our net worth. Rich has a small wine tasting and wine retail business and traffic is way down. Polly and Carl run a bed and breakfast and they are 30% down in bookings. Rich’s job has been cut from 12 months to 11 months. All of us have had big increases in property taxes. Jerry and Anne’s property taxes have doubled. Health insurance costs have risen.
The decline in our net worth has made each of us inclined to spend less money. We are all comfortable, no credit problems or house foreclosures, but there is a psychological need to save. We worry that things may get worse.
Concern was expressed about the rules for withdrawal from IRA’s. What will the new rules be? Russ believes we should have a tax credit on health insurance costs, and that tax relief should be retroactive to 2008.
We all agreed that health care cost containment is important for the recovery. We believe that Medicare should be available to people who have retired but are under 65.
While none of us are facing foreclosure, some of us have children who are.
We moved the discussion to the stimulus plan as we understand it.
We are strongly in favor of government stimulus programs to begin economic recovery, but we want accountability for our money. We believe that if the government gives money to banks that the tax payers should have an ownership stake in the banks.
We agreed that the stimulus package should move the country back in the direction of a viable public sector, and away from the idea that all government is bad and the private sector does everything better. The view was expressed that the market makes small decisions one at a time, but not strategic decisions.
Strategic decisions should be made by the government about what direction the country should take. For instance, there should be tax incentives for small business guild shops under $250,000 in sales per year in order to encourage small business. There should be tax incentives for buy local and produce local movements.
The middle class needs tax relief.
We all agreed that the country needs a compulsory national service program for young adults. The military would be one option, but there should be other opportunities for youth to serve the country.
We discussed foreign trade and buy American provisions in the stimulus package. There was not full agreement. Most present were in favor of buy American, but some felt that this might trigger retaliation in the form of trade restrictions by other countries that we trade with. There was general agreement that the government should stop subsidizing capital flight to foreign countries and should start taxing it.
We want to see jobs created by building infrastructure: public transportation, railroads, high speed rail, bridges, and road repair. We also believe that jobs are created by funding education, health, and the arts.
We are in favor of creating job opportunities in clean and renewable energy, and that the government should take the country in the direction of energy independence.
We enjoyed a good pot luck lunch.