Posts Tagged ‘The Waltons’

In the ongoing debate about the financial situation of the United States, there is always an analogy that is used, usually by those on the right,  to justify simply slashing all spending to bring down the deficit rather than raising revenues through taxation.  They usually say that the USA is like a normal family and when you are over budget you must cut back on things.

It’s a nice, simple comparison that even the lowest of our common denominators can understand. 

Now, I’m all for bringing things down to the simplest terms.  I think we all do this for our own understanding of most everything.  But this analogy has always bugged me in that it seemed to lack the nuance and depth of the real problem that it is supposed to represent.  Now, I’m thinking off the top of my head here, but I think you can still use the USA-as-a-family analogy but there needs to be a tweak to better show the reality of the situation. 

 Instead of a simple father and mother and two and a half children as the original analogy infers, I think you can substitute the  Walton family from the long-running CBS TV show The Waltons.  The USA is Walton Mountain and the family represents our citizens.  There is John Sr. and Olivia, Grandpa and Grandma and the seven children– John Boy, Jason, Mary Ellen, Ben, Erin, Jim Bob and Elizabeth.  You have a much more representative cross section here with the addition of the grandparents.

The family homestead, Walton Mountain, is mortgaged to the bank, much as our nation is indebted  to our treasury and foreign lenders such as the Chinese.  John Sr’s lumbering business has been on shaky ground lately and its income has dropped even though it still has all the same bills and financial obligations.  The bank is threatening to foreclose.  Under the simpler analogy, the family would just cut back on extras and everything would work out just fine.  But if you watched the show, these folks were working with a lot of extras to begin with.  Simply cutting out the Christmas ham and shutting out all the lights at 8 PM and buying a yard less gingham at Ike’s store won’t balance their budget.  They need more income.

Now John Boy has become a best-selling author and is making a nice living and paying a nominal rent for his place on Walton Mountain.  Jason had been a musician but things dried up and he lives at home now, helping at the mill in exchange for his rent.  Ben was injured in a logging accident and requires medical care on an on-going basis.  Mary Ellen takes care of Ben around the clock.  Erin works the gardens and does paperwork for the mill.  Jim Bob and Elizabeth are in school still with hopes of following John Boy’s path to an education at Boatwright University.  Grandpa has several prescriptions that are costing the family a lot and Grandma has gotten to the point where she can’t help around the house as much as she once did.

Now, according to the first, simpler analogy, wouldn’t the relatively well-to-do John Boy be asked to give a little more to help out the family?  The John Boy I know would  never turn his back selfishly on his family.  Or would you just cut back on the meds that are keeping Grandpa Walton alive?  Would you take away Ben’s care?  Would you tell Jim Bob and Eizabeth that the path to an education that served the successful John Boy so well was no longer a viable option for them?  There are so many different scenarios in this story that better represent the situation of our nation and its debt and budget than the we’re-a-family-and have-to-watch-our-household-budget mantra that we all hear constantly.  And that’s just off the top of my head.

The answers here are not simple and you can’t really give the whole story with any analogy.  The majority of theAmerican people have been saying for some time  that it will take some cutting and some revenues, meaning taxation, to get out from under the wight of this situation.  Even many of the wealthy John Boys of this country understand and accept this.  But for some reason there is a resistance by some to the only viable solution that is visible.

I don’t know why.  I only know that their simple story is never as simple as they’d have us believe.

G’night, John Boy.



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