- Expats Again
- Munich, Germany
- I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.
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Monday, November 29, 2010
In just one day I will be flying back to Germany. I have had a lovely visit in the states catching up with friends and family. I love my country and it's difficult to be so far away when changes are being made here and I later learn about them in a foreign land. Germany is not a perfect country, but for the time being they appear to be stable and seem to be making good decisions for their economy.
I'm less confident about the way things are going here in the U.S. I have just watched the President on T.V. call for a two year wage freeze for federal employees. This is a good way to rein in spending and cut the cost of government, but this measure is just a drop in the bucket compared to the large deficit we have now.
We see it everywhere. Employees are being asked to roll up their sleeves, to do more for less, and in many cases, to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the greater good. Companies have downsized, gone out of business, and relocated overseas in an effort to optimize their profits. All of this translates, of course, to lower wages and less employment.
I wish I could be optimistic and say that a federal wage freeze will make a difference, but I just don't see it that way. To add to my pessimism, there is a very good chance that the Bush era tax cut debates will result in an extension, further benefiting the rich.
Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, believes that the rich should be paying more taxes and it should be left to expire at the end of December. He sees steady growth in 69 out of 70 of his investments (all but construction) making money.
Those tax cuts for the wealthy did nothing to stimulate our economy. It was industry that benefited from them. Nor did the bail outs that kept big business from destroying the economy, sure, but still resulted in large bonuses for CEO's and more tightening of the reins when it comes to consumer lending.
Buffet says, "If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further. But I think that people at the high end--people like myself--should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it." Darn right they have.
Buffet thinks the economy has a long way to go before coming back. My worry is this: just how many more cuts can the Americans afford to give?
Gas prices and tuition costs are just a few of the expenses that are on the rise. People are not borrowing, they are cutting down on expenses and in many cases struggling just to make it to the next pay check. Many invested their money in stocks that are worth very little now, if anything. Their homes are worth less than they purchased them, and this was to be their form of savings, their nest egg, for their retirement. Currently, even their pensions are in question and medical insurance is far beyond their means.
Heck, at 50 plus years of age, they are no longer employable even though they ma have an education and experience to offer. For them, who have worked hard doing what they thought was the right thing all of their lives-- they will live out their lives in quiet desperation.
I am also concerned that corporations are allowed to donate money, in undisclosed amounts, to their preferential political party. Isn't our country for the people and by the people? It was never founded to be run in the best interest of corporations who we all know do not have the best interest of our country's constituents at heart.
They are only interested in lining their own pockets, come what may.
I know I share these concerns with many others in our country. It's just that when I'm living day-to-day in Gemany, I don't feel the pulse of America. I don't hear the guy at the gas station commenting to his buddy about how he can't afford to fill his tank or the elderly woman in the grocery line in front of me who is existing on §600.00 a month. I feel that, for better or worse, life in another country alienates me from what my fellow Americans are going through.
I read the news and watch CNN and the BBC, but I wonder if it is media hype or reality. It is so hard to tell these days.
I speak to my friends and family on Skype and try to sort out fact from fiction. Here, in the rust belt where we come from, the stories are never very promising and people seem to have a general malaise regarding their financial futures. That, or they are putting their heads in the sand and crossing their fingers that things improve quickly. It's hard to tell.
You hear words like recession, depression, budget deficits and inflation, but the restaurant parking lots are still full and people are lined up on Black Friday to get the latest techno gadget. One wonders if these items are paid with cash or credit? I would like to think that if there were any lessons to be learned from what we have gone through, it would be to not live beyond our means, to make wise purchases, and to save; because it looks to me like the rich will just keep getting richer and the poor will just keep getting poorer, as long as the corporations are calling the shots.
So tell me, do you feel the same? Are we being governed by corporate America?