The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

What can you do for your country?

On December 16th, 2013, posted in: Uncategorized by

One of President John F. Kennedy’s most profound utterances is the now famous line “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Given the highly divisive nature of today’s political climate, the meaning of his words are debated with each side of the aisle pointing to an interpretation that best serves their respective political ideologies. In this the 50th year since JFK’s heart-wrenching assassination, I’ll choose the more literal interpretation.

To me, it means for us to search our hearts and determine what we can do on an individual basis to ensure our country’s overall success. Make our country great by giving back to one another. I think about volunteers, and the power of people to help one another. I think about making sure that this country remains the greatest in the world for now and for future generations.

There is a lot of talk about future generations and the predicament that our country’s current financial situation may have on their lives. What can we do for our country to ensure that future generations have it better (not worse) than we did? Has our selfish, take-take-take attitude gotten in the way of giving back to our country’s future success? I think it is telling that one of the words added to today’s lexicon is “selfie.” Yes, the act of taking a picture of oneself is now so narcissistically prevalent that we needed a word for it—sadly, is this a commentary as to who matters most in our lives? I’m just asking.

Here’s a thought that deals with what’s good for our country. If current trends of spending and tax revenues, that aren’t near enough to support our gluttonous ways continue, it will be very hard to avert a fiscal crisis. The cost drivers of our current Social Security/Medicare (and other programs) will present a challenge without having the necessary supporting tax revenue. We have an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.

The issue is that neither of the political factions nor the general public seem willing to address the reality of what lies ahead in terms of this great country’s fiscal situation. Part of the problem is that our political leaders need to “get real.” Admission to a serious problem that needs addressing now, not in the future, is desperately needed. First, elected officials must be willing to give something back other than rhetoric, dissension among the ranks, and the proverbial kicking of the can down the road. Then and only then can we can take the next big step.

Agreement in the halls of congress will then allow for a serious intervention of sorts with the American public. The fact is that the general public must understand the spending and taxing realities have currently plopped us down right in the middle of a financial crisis. Sadly, history is full of countries that have lost control of their fiscal situation. Lord, we’re too smart for that to happen to us. Aren’t we?

We love our Social Security and Medicare programs, and we love paying as low a tax as possible. The problem is that the two can’t continue along their current trajectories without change.

Seriously, we need to think about President Kennedy’s words. They have never had more meaning as it relates to our country’s success. Our understanding and choices are existential.

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