Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
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Taxes suffocate economies. Benefit cuts hurt recipients.
Those two things are true.
They are also increasingly irrelevant. At this season in our history, at the convergence of a cascading governmental insolvency and the results of a national election, it’s time to do what has to be done.
And we have to do what we have to do to keep the government’s financial house of cards from collapsing.
And that could hurt. It could hurt purses, pride and principles.
But it’s just like at home. When the out go and the income don’t line up, you’ve got to make some changes to make it work.
That’s what millions of families do every day all across the country. They clear off the kitchen table, lay out all their bills, get some scratch paper, fire up the calculator, and make hard decisions.
America needs to do that. We need to do some kitchen-table economizing, in order to save our financial neck.
For families at the kitchen table, busted budgets get fixed by cutting expenditures, liquidating assets and increasing revenues.
You trim what you spend, you sell what you don’t need, and you make some more money.
That’s how family budgets get fixed, and that’s how our government’s budget will get fixed.
At home, for example, a family struggling to make ends meet will stop unnecessary spending. They drop the cable or the house phone, they stop going out to dinner, and they get rid of the car with payments and drive a used car they can pay for outright.
The kids can take dance or piano, but they can’t do both, and vacation plans get cancelled. You eat hamburger instead of steak and you start getting your bread at the day-old store. There’s no money for hair dye or beer or a big flat screen.
It all hurts.
Cutting expenses requires the family to painfully do without things which its members had grown accustomed to. That sacrifice is difficult, and it changes the family’s way of life.
But it has to be done.
Cut, cut, cut.
And sell, sell, sell.
A family trying to avoid bankruptcy sells its second car, and dad’s guns and mom’s jewels. The stamp collection goes away and maybe so does the dream home, as the family squeezes back into something more modest and affordable.
When financial times are tight, families liquidate unnecessary assets. They turn things into money and they use the money to pay debt, make payments and cover the bare necessities of life.
That’s two-thirds of it. Cut expenses and sell what you don’t need. But there’s another third.
You increase revenues.
You make more money.
Dad usually does that by taking a second or a third job. Maybe mom takes in laundry or sewing, or watches the neighbor kids in the evening. Perhaps she or dad take an overnight job stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart or tending the counter at a convenience store.
They rack up overtime when they can, they look for side jobs, and they take a Christmas job. They work nights and weekends.
To bring in more money.
And that’s hard. Sixteen-hour days and 90-hour weeks are physically and emotionally draining. They wear you down. And they take you away from your family and home. You miss soccer games and bedtime stories and the quiet times that are the most precious and sacred in life.
But it’s got to be done.
Cut spending, liquidate unessential assets, increase revenues.
That’s how a family saves itself financially. And that’s how our country must save itself financially.
Cut spending, liquidate unessential assets, increase revenues.
Which gets back to the hard part.
If the United States government is to save itself from financial collapse, it must apply those same three principles to its budgetary problems. To balance the federal budget, do what mom and dad do, spend less, raise more and sell what you don’t need.
Let’s apply that.
The federal government must significantly cut entitlements, and it must do so in a transparent manner that makes sure nobody is playing fast and loose with the rules. The cuts must be real, substantive and big.
And the Democrats must not only tolerate them, they must advocate them. When those upon whom federal dollars are spent cry the loudest, the Democratic Party must be principled enough to hold the line.
The federal government owns substantially more than half of all the land in a string of western states. That land should be sold into private hands with the proceeds going into the federal treasury. The current administration is shutting down gas and oil leases in the American west and in many coastal areas. It should reverse that trend and profit from the reclamation of natural resources. Instead of smothering America’s energy industry, the federal government should be encouraging it to greatness, and profiting from land and lease sales, and taxes.
The federal government owns land and oil rights which should be sold to help supplement the budget.
The third step is the one Democrats want to try first and the one Republicans want to try never.
It’s called raising people’s taxes.
Probably rich people’s taxes. Unfortunately, the politics of greed, envy and covetousness are powerful in this country, and some want to raise the taxes of others as an act of vengeance.
As loathsome as it is, as part of a balanced plan to fix the budget, it might be necessary.
That’s not an abandonment of principle, it is a facing of facts. Yes, raising taxes on anyone stifles the economy and costs jobs, and you don’t want to do it. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
And just as you wouldn’t typically want to spray a high-pressure hose around someone’s living room, it becomes a necessity when the house is on fire. Likewise, raising taxes is something you don’t want to do, but which may become a necessity, based on current fiscal and political conditions.
So we should get after it.
We should challenge the politicians to do more than vilify the other side. Let’s slaughter all the sacred cows, and be as willing to gore our own ox as we are to gore the other guy’s ox.
Because it really is that bad.
Everything is on the table, nothing is off the table, we’ve got to redefine the government financial function and focus.
Horrible cuts will have to be put in place. Someone’s taxes will have to go up.
We will need to be grownups.
And we will need to do it soon.
Because we are knocking on bankruptcy’s door.