Connie Goff: As I see it, no one understands the economy

Connie Goff

I'm certain many of you have watched the presidential and vice-presidential debates over the past few weeks. It was hard to get control of the TV those nights, but Roger and I did manage to get to watch.

There are obviously many issues plaguing the American public these days –– I suspect none quite so troubling as the economy.

I listened intently as both Barack Obama and John McCain explained in detail their plans for alleviating the economical distress the majority of the American people are experiencing. When they finished, I looked at Roger, he looked at me and we both shrugged. We just don't get it. And I'm not certain the presidential candidates get it either.

First of all, even though each of the candidates in the debates spoke of wanting to help middle America –– the everyday citizen –– I'm quite sure none have a clue what said everyday citizen is going through.

It's my humble opinion that if any of those individuals in the running for the top two spots in the nation looked in my cupboards they would be shocked at the lack of what's supposed to be there. Maybe that would give them a more realistic understanding of what the mainstream American is feeling.

I have watched as the newscasters spoke of the devastating downfall of a number of financial institutions around the country. I was amazed as they showed the aerial view of the homes and vehicles of the upper crust members of those companies –– mansions on each coast, black cars sitting outside and, I'm sure, a sports car or two in the garages.

In September, we were made aware that the government approved a $700 billion intervention plan for the financial market. And a week after American International Group, Inc. was bailed out and saved from bankruptcy, they sent company executives on a $440,000 retreat to a fancy resort in California that included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for the AIG employees.

What's that all about? Wouldn't it be wonderful to make some really stupid financial decisions –– which many of us have in the past –– and have someone come along and keep us from hitting bottom?

I've been thinking about this. I'm not all that smart about finances, and these big guns talk rings around me when it comes to tax credits and all that stuff, but here's how I see it.

Roger bought a truck in 2006 as a business investment –– he planned to deliver travel trailers across the nation. Things rolled along pretty well for a time. In May 2007, I was diagnosed with cancer. Roger wanted to come home, give up the traveling so he could be around when I had treatments, doctors' appointments and all that.

During my illness, I was unable to work –– thus, our family income was down the amount of my humble salary ––  plus the fact that our medical bills escalated a great deal at that time and we're still paying them.

Of course there was the stimulus package this past summer that gave individuals $300 -- couples $600 -- that could be put back into the economy. Funny thing about that: With depreciation on the truck and the cost of diesel fuel, Roger came out with an overall loss for the year. With that and the fact that I wasn't working and didn't pay taxes, no taxes were paid from our joint income for the year. Consequently, we didn't receive a stimulus check; however, it would have been greatly appreciated!

Nathan (our oldest son) quit his job and started a construction company, so Roger started working with him. It's  great work when people can afford to pay for construction, but that's one of those frills we have to give up when times are tough.

So, here's what I propose: How about the government come along and pay off Roger's truck for him –– a business investment that is still costing us after the business is no more.

I'm sure our neighbors and friends wouldn't mind if the government helped us out in our financial crisis. I'm certain everyone around us is concerned enough about us and loves us enough that they would want us to get out of this situation unscathed –– much the way I feel about the financial big whigs getting off scott free.

I'm not necessarily saying the government made a mistake with the bailout package. Possibly that is the only decision that could have been made –– the only thing that could save our country from another great depression.

I hope it was the right decision. I hope whoever gets elected and is in charge of this great nation will do all in his power to help the everyday people as well as those who, in my opinion, don't need quite as much help –– those who don't understand what it would be like to live on macaroni and beans.

Maryville Daily Forum