Liberal in Thought. Conservative in Finance.

148287509As we begin a new year it’s a good time to reflect on how we think as a nation. We are not at all aligned in our points of view, and that’s ok. However, we live in polarizing times where the battle lines between the political parties and their views have never been sharper. No one is a winner when the nation’s greater good is not the objective. Politically, Strumings readers, and those that know me, know that my views lean left. I have always felt that all of us, particularly those of means, have an obligation to help those less fortunate. Virtually none of us are self-made, and those who are struggling deserve help. I feel the Democratic party better represents those values. I feel that they represent the average American better as well.

On the other hand, though I lean left philosophically, I do also have a conservative fiscal nature. I do not believe that government spending in itself solves societal problems. I believe that truly solving difficult problems is far more important than merely throwing $ at them. But money does matter.

On a personal basis and as a business person, I am wired to be frugal. I am proud of that. I have always believed that one needs to live within one’s means. I am not a Shakespeare kind of guy (though I did take 2 Shakespeare courses at Rutgers), but I respect the idea, Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

I do have difficulty being empathetic to many who run into “money troubles”, particularly when they were self inflicted. Were those money troubles an act of god, or merely the payments for the Lexus lease that just got too heavy? Didn’t think the roof would ever need to be repaired? Have a good living, but still live paycheck to paycheck? I am not very sympathetic. On the other hand, I do have empathy for those who work hard yet still struggle to make ends meet.

The same applies on a government basis. We spend too much as a nation—on everything. Military, entitlements, on virtually everything the government touches. Much of government spending, which is largely well intentioned, is alas inefficient. Furthermore, we outspend our collections. When we overspend, there are consequences. Our national debt increases and the cost of that debt is borrowing and debt service becomes a larger part of the budget. Can’t outspend your collections forever. Either collections must increase or expenditures must decrease. Every household with a budget understands this.

The political party that historically complained loudest about deficit spending has been the GOP. There was merit in their pleas. However…. As the current majority party is has now orchestrated a tax program that will provide even more excessive spending. Worse yet, while it purports to provide middle class tax relief, the middle class tax relief is modest (and non-existent for some) and transitory, while the reduction in taxes for business and higher earners is far more significant and longer lasting. Seems to me the new tax program is one that exacerbates a growing chasm between haves and have nots. Hope I am wrong. Time will tell.

What I do smell coming is a financial day of reckoning for our country where significant cutbacks to overall spending and particularly “entitlements” is coming—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. By the way recipients of Social Security and Medicare are in fact entitled. Ever notice the 7.45% of your paycheck that goes to FICA/MC (and your employer matches that)? You paid for the program and therefore you are entitled. Whether fine tuning needs to be made to reflect demographics and longevity is another story.

In any event we have been evolving to nation of haves and have nots, with fewer in the middle. That’s the biggest issue because it’s not healthy long term for our country. We are making foolish decisions on every front—fiscal, environmental, political, world leadership–that have no vision and appreciation for longer term consequences.

I have hope that we will be wiser in future years. I have little hope in the short term, given that our current administration lacks soul but even more importantly lacks vision. But they will be gone soon, and the damage that is being done can hopefully be repaired over time.

In the meanwhile, I hope we will spend frugally, yet still provide a strong safety net for those in need and create a more balanced economy with a stronger middle class.

Compassion and frugality are things I respect. They are not mutually exclusive. Happy new year.

More Strumings


  1. Joe says:

    Hi Lonny. Well said! Good to see you and Beth. Sorry we didn’t get much of a chance to speak. All the best! Joe

  2. Bill Borton says:

    Hi Lonny,

    I have been enjoying Strumings for a number of years and always appreciate your thoughts, even if we aren’t always in alignment. I have never understood how one can be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Liberalism closely mirrors socialism in a number of key ways and you recall what Margaret Thatcher said about socialism. Both parties are drunk with power and bow to the lobbyists and their check books. At some point, the house of cards has to collapse. Bill

Leave a Reply