Congress needs to run to the roar
Published 6:05 am Saturday, January 10, 2009
A friend of mine, Rolfe Carawan, an author and motivational speaker, recently pointed out to me the unique way in which lions hunt. Apparently, in the savanna grasslands of Africa when lions are ready to hunt, a male lion runs to one side of the grassland to prepare for the attack. A group of lionesses, known for their precision and hunting prowess, slowly move in on the other side of the grassland and wait slyly behind the thick reeds and grass. Unaware of their surroundings and the impending attack, their prey – flocks of zebras, wildebeest, and gazelle – graze quietly in the center of the grassland. Then, the male lion lets out a roar to signal the hunt.
In a hasty and immediate reaction to the roar, the prey scatter from their herds, running as fast as they can away from the roaring lion behind them. What they don’t realize is that they will run straight into the group of lionesses who have moved into position, now ready to pounce, attack, and kill.
There is something very peculiar about the lion’s hunt. If the lion’s prey grazing in the savanna grasslands would just run toward the roar of the lion, they would easily get around the single lion by their sheer size in number and speed. Instead they run away out of fear, heading straight into an even more deadly situation.
As we begin a new year, a new Congress and a new administration, news media and negative pundits are quick to remind us of the many daunting challenges that loom ahead for our nation in 2009. And with all of the challenges we’re constantly reminded of, it is easy to think of ourselves as one of the thousands of prey confronted by a roaring lion ready to devour.
Families and businesses feel beaten down by our economic situation. Retirement investments are not what they used to be. Colleges are raising their tuition to cover for shrinking endowments, causing families to question their ability to send their children to college. Small businesses are being forced to close their doors because they cannot break even given the slump of consumer sales. Droves of young people are coming out of college facing one of the toughest job markets our country has seen in years.
Furthermore, government spending — and our federal deficit — is skyrocketing. With all of the federal bailouts from 2008, the presence of our federal government in our overall economy has increased by 50 percent in just 12 months. The total cost of the bailout packages alone is nearly the entire amount Congress appropriated on all federal discretionary spending in 2007. In its latest budget forecast, the Congressional Budget Office announced our federal deficit for FY2009 will shatter any record high deficits in peacetime history, nearly tripling to $1.2 trillion. At this pace, government spending is set to make up half of our overall economy in just two years, replacing the judgment of the American people with the judgment of politicians, threatening not just our welfare today, but the future welfare of our children and grandchildren.
Our health care system needs to be revitalized to address our increased federal spending in health care and the 47 million individuals without health insurance. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, federal spending on health care is outpacing our overall economic growth. Small businesses lack a way to purchase health insurance for their employees at competitive costs. Our prescription drug prices are more costly than those in other countries, putting a strain on senior citizens, especially in our current economic environment.
The lion’s roar is certainly loud and frightening. But like the thousands of prey who face the roaring lion, we have a critical option in the face of these challenges — we can run away from the roaring challenges in front of us only to find ourselves facing an even more costly situation, or we can run towards the challenges in our traditionally innovative spirit seeking lasting solutions. In theory, I would gather that most individuals would choose to take the challenge head-on. But we must ask ourselves what it means to do that in practice.
Will we continue to increase our deficit by seeking stimulus after stimulus? We’ve seen that no temporary stimulus or boost to our economy lasts. Will we continue to invest in a failed model that diverts investments away from hardworking Americans and successful businesses? We have an opportunity to seek economic solutions that preserve our basic economic traditions and put us on track towards a growing economy.
We have an opportunity to transform our current system to one of empowerment, choice, and quality, and to bring our health care system into the 21st century through the use of technology.
Will we return to being a nation of innovative solutions rather than temporary remedies? I am confident that we can if we step out, put aside partisan politics, open our dialogue, and continually ask ourselves “What it best for America?.” I believe in the innovation of America and the American people, and I know we can overcome our greatest challenges through our values and our refusal to give up. We just have to run to the roar.
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