I think most of us are familiar with the poem regarding the attributes of children born on each day of the week. Here is the poem for those who have not.
Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child must work for a living,
But the child that’s born on the Sabbath day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.
As I sit here on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, I am reminded how shortsighted we are, but especially our leaders. The trouble is we need leaders and wanna-be leaders to think longer term as very few problems can be solved short-term and some are growing in magnitude as we are doing precious little about them. So, by failing to do our job, we are creating more Wednesday’s children.
My greatest concern relates to how we are slow to fully address the impact of climate change on our planet. The World Economic Forum noted in their 2015 Global Risks Report that inaction on climate change is one of the two greatest risks to the planet over the next ten years.
Yet, we look to countries like Denmark who are now 100% powered by wind energy. Why? Their leaders understood it would take years to do this and needed buy-in from everyone, as the plan needed to be executed after some would leave office. Coupling that with the sense of urgency of a country beneath sea level, can spur folks to action.
In the US, we have made great strides, but we still have the heavy hand of the fossil fuel industry who has too great an influence on too many elected officials. This prevents them from looking at the real problems facing us. I wrote last time about the alleged misleading of shareholders by ExxonMobil on the impact of climate change on its business being investigated by the New York Attorney General. If found guilty, this would be a fraudulent crime.
Yet, the sister environmental issue is the declining availability of fresh water, which is the top issue of concern by the World Economic Forum. This concern predates and is beyond the Flint Water crisis, although that is important. We have increasing areas of drought which are exacerbated by climate change around the globe and in the US. In one of the great ironies, the Middle East is oil rich, but water poor. And, one of the greatest symbolisms of this concern is the religious leaders in Saudi Arabia allow their people to pray with sand and not waste water.
Another concern that will impact our children is leaving them with our debts. In the US, we have a $19 Trillion debt problem that seems to get forgotten about. This debt will increase even more with our aging population with fewer workers for each retiree. This is a key reason the labor participation rate has declined as we are aging with fewer workers. Yet, this is happening in other places at a greater pace causing problems in Greece, Spain, Japan, etc.
We cannot pay this debt down by ignoring it. And, we cannot cut expenditures enough, so we will need to look to higher taxes. With that said, the two leading GOP candidates tax plans will increase the debt by $12 Trillion and $3.7 Trillion over the next ten years. And, the leading GOP candidate said he will get rid of the debt in eight years, but we should be asking how when you will be increasing it by over 60%? The leading Democrat candidate’s tax plan will slightly decrease it by about $500 Billion over ten years, while the second place candidate will also increase taxes, but offer more benefits and services (such as national healthcare) which will increase the debt as well. This is in the wrong direction – each candidate should have plan to significantly pay down the debt.
I recognize fully we have poverty issues, income inequality issues, terrorist issues and corruption issues. These must be dealt with. But, at least we are talking about these issues. We must address these other issues or our children will be screwed. It is that simple. And, they will be more than full of woe. They should be angry that we did not address our problems and left them holding the bag.