Put those pennies in the bank | PostIndependent.com

Put those pennies in the bank

John Steele
Guest Column

A penny for a spool of thread,

A penny for a needle,

That’s the way the money goes,

Pop! goes the weasel.

As with most nursery rhythms, there is a pretty sound lesson in this simple poem. I think this one is very pertinent to the conversation concerning adding just “one more penny” to the sales tax in Rifle for whatever noble purpose we now foresee, which is the beautiful and well-designed recreation and community center.

As I look at the center’s web page, I can only wonder how we could have gotten along all these years without such a facility in our midst. We simply must have one to keep up with all the other cities, and don’t bother us with the cost because, well, it’s only a penny. How can we deny ourselves this wonderful and life-changing amenity at such a small price?

When asked what it is like to be the richest man in the world, Bill Gates responded by saying that everything was free. That is exactly how we are behaving at all levels of government. The fed is printing; the states are taking and passing it down to the cities as low interest loans, and the cities are building as fast as they can, saying all the time, “How can we afford not to borrow this cheap money?” President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address to the nation, said, “As we peer into the future, we — you and I and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

The fact is, my eighth-grade son will be more than 35 years old before he pays off the water and sewer treatment plants that we have built or will be building in Rifle. We have raised all taxes by saying, “It is only a penny.” But those pennies have added up to the point that we are being taxed out of our political and spiritual heritage and our democracy is, in fact, “the insolvent phantom.”

In the time it takes you to read this column, this country added at least $3.5 million to our national debt. While most people think that is someone else’s problem, you and I now owe about $52,000 as our share of that debt, along with that eighth grade boy.

We simply have to say STOP!

It is very easy to generate economic improvement by simply printing money. But someday that bill must be paid and that day is now. We will never see solid economic growth in this country until we stop raising taxes — and that means all taxes — coupled with making government live within its means. We have to quit trying to borrow ourselves rich. It did not work in the past and will not work today.

If you are at all concerned about your children’s and grandchildren’s welfare, take that penny and, instead of building something you think they will want in the future, put it in the bank so that they might have the means to build what they need when the time comes for them to make the decisions.

John Steele of Rifle is a former mayor of Silt and was a vocal critic of the city of Rifle’s $25 million water treatment plant due to begin construction next spring.

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