Karen Johnson Opinion Paper Running on Empty The title of the book written by Peter Peterson Running on Empty describes the financial crisis in the United States. Peter Peterson has written other books about government and politics and has also had hands on experience in this field. Peterson is saying our country is in a crisis and totally in debt. Peterson’s experience in political matters makes it possible for him to call out mistakes made by both parties and to present nonpartisan solutions. Mr. Peterson has served as Secretary of Commerce and has served as a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.
He also was one of the founders of the Concord Coalition in 1992. This was created in an effort to demand fiscal responsibility among the leaders of both parties in Washington. Peterson is a Republican, but he explains how both parties have been equally irresponsible. His book explains how the conservative and liberal parties caused this issue and what can be done to rebuild our future. I believe that the Democratic Party really honestly cares about all people being healthy and happy. However, they could help the financial crisis by reducing some of the social programs they have created to help people in our society.
I think Peterson is correct when he states that not every interest group may not be able to have their own entitlements as it has now. It is possible that some of the burden of taking care of all people could be given back to the people. Our country used to be known for strong families and stronger work habits. However, I’m sure this would be much harder than it sounds because the way families live now compared to the past is so different. Some people have not ever developed the skills needed to take charge of their lives.
To make these types of changes Peterson says that we have to hit the very bottom in order to be willing to make changes like this. In the chapter with the title “Ten Partisan Myths”, Peterson discusses how he thinks the Democrats and Republicans are different. It seemed like he favored the Republicans when he said that “every American is ‘entitled’ to government largesse”. I think that the American government should keep promises for our well being in order to try to reduce the trust of the American people. They need to stop making promises that they can’t keep.
It is my opinion that the Republican Party often promises to make tax cuts to persuade the American people to vote for them. Like the Democrats, they don’t always keep their promises. Although the Republicans think that it is a good idea to spend huge amounts of tax dollars on military forces and supplies, perhaps they could decrease spending in this area. I don’t think that cutting taxes will help unless there are also huge cuts in spending. I agree with Mr. Peterson that the raise in taxes would have to be increased so much that it would be too much of a burden on the middle class.
I also agree with Peterson that price indexing seems to be a easy way to solve this problem especially because it is fair to all and simple to start. Similar programs have been used in other countries with some success. I think both Democrats and Republicans would be in agreement that our country would benefit from less borrowing from other countries, less imports from other countries, having more exports, and being able to have a balanced budget. I think they would also agree that relying on other countries to bail us out of dept is a bad practice. Both parties have been guilty of blaming the other party for these existing concerns.
Peterson explains in this book how the founding fathers of our country had strong opinions about creating large public debt and they gave advice that it should not be done. Year after year these problems seem to be ignored and instead both parties are more concerned in an immediate payoff and making their own party look good. When we study history, one of the things that is always stressed when describing America’s success is the fact that the American people had to work together to bring about change. In the past Americans worked together and made the sacrifices that were needed for the country.
Each person gave a lot in order to help the whole country. United we win, divided we fall. Maybe the answer to our problems is as simple as repeating the past, pulling together, and making the sacrifices needed in a time of crisis. This reminds me of Kennedy’s famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. ” I believe that it is necessary for conservatives as well as liberals to make changes in order to have a better government. However, the people who vote should look into the details of the issues rather than being a partisan voter.
Both voters and politicians should be more concerned about what is really best for our country instead of what is best for the two political parties or what will get them the most votes. The division of the two parties seems to have grown wider and wider over the years to the point that it has become very easy for each party to place blame for our country’s crisis on the other party. It seems Mr. Peterson may be right when he predicts that politics is not going to change until the situation in our country gets in even worse shape than it is now.
I agree with Peterson that the young people of America should take action in the political system. Mr. Peterson is concerned about future generations having to pay so much more in taxes to support a longer period of retirement because people are liver longer. Perhaps this is normal and that each generation has always had to pay more taxes than the generation before them. He suggests raising the retirement age. I do not agree that this is a good solution to that problem, but it may be necessary for that to happen in order to help our financial debt.
It’s possible that the idea of having people work more years until they are able to receive retirement might have some consequences that are not easily seen at this time. Maybe doing that could prevent other younger workers from starting their career. We already have the problem of high unemployment. Another idea that Peterson talks about is turning the Social Security system into a needs only based retirement fund where if an individual has enough money saved on their own throughout their working years and don’t need money for retirement, that they would not receive the money they have placed in the Social Security fund.
To me this suggestion seems to contradict Peterson’s criticisms of politicians not being responsible for the decisions they make today that will affect the future. With this plan an individual could be irresponsible his whole working life not planning for the future knowing there is a safety net provided by the government in the for of someone else’s hard earned money when it’s time for them to retire. Mr. Peterson seems to offer this idea as a solution which reminds me of what he has accused today’s leaders of doing. He has accused leaders of making decisions today without any thought to the future .
Also this idea for a needs only Social Security seems to be a lame solution just to offer a quick fix at the moment. Maybe he thought that writing this book without any solutions would be criticized so he threw out a couple of ideas about Social Security. If this is true then it proves the point that solutions for the future of our younger people in America is harder than it may seem. There are no easy quick solutions. There were other ideas that Peterson discussed that I thought were good a good start to fixing the problems for the future. He encourages young people to get involved in politics more than they ever have been in the past.
A key word is “action”. I agree that we as young people of America must develop an interest in our government and become educated so that we can take the correct actions that will make our future better than it looks like it will be as of today. Peterson encourages us to contact our politicians to address problems and to get involved in our local government elections. He says that it would be a good idea for people my age to plan ahead for their future by having a savings plan with your own income so that we don’t have to rely on the government to have the money to support us during our retirement days.
I agree with Mr. Peterson that it is more important than ever to become educated about our government and how it was meant to be for the people. Mr. Peterson has acted today to help us in this education process by creating The Peter G. Peterson Foundation with the goal to increase interest and awareness of government policies. I think that the young people of America can no longer sit by and trust the government to handle their money. The younger voters need to get involved in voting in order to force our leaders to make changes in our government.
We generally believe that we will be able to provide our children with the same or somewhat better than our parents were able to provide for us. Unless some changes are made, that may not be true for our generation. I believe Mr. Peterson is correct when he encourages us to work together, get away from partisan attitudes, and help each other in our society. Maybe reading this book and others like it will cause more people my age to vote. It has made a difference in my thinking about the importance of voting. I guess all changes are first started with education on a particular subject.
I’m thinking that more of these types of books should be required reading for college students. Peter Peterson may not be able to offer workable solutions as an individual, but this book may provide the motivation needed for our younger generation to elect leaders who can bring about the changes that are needed. The combination of knowledge, responsibility, and action will be necessary to start these changes. Reference Peterson, Peter. Running on empty. New York, NY: Farraf, Straus, & Giroux, 2004. Print.