Guest Editorial | ParkRecord.com

Guest Editorial

Lee J. Whiting, Park City

I left a message this morning with your helpful aide, Norma, in your Ogden office. I would like to back up my verbal comments and go record as stating, unequivocally, how much I disagree with your stance on HR 1517 and the disastrous and destructive consequences of your "NO" vote.

I, too, am a free markets believer and committed to open and free markets. I also believe, as do you, that the taxpayer should not generally pay for the mistakes of the private sector. But you can’t have it both ways: championing the successes of private enterprise as the model of our economy while ignoring that same model when market inefficiencies result from poor public policy oversight and lack of financial regulation. Our elected officials and the general taxpaying public share in this sin as well.

I also happen to be a more recent casualty of the recent economic downturn, having lost my job in March 2008 in a real estate development company headquartered in Utah that formerly had 80+ employees and now has two.

Those job losses certainly cannot help the local, regional or national economy or tax base. I currently receive $427/week in unemployment compensation, (which after tax withholdings (!) is reduced to $362 ) while I try and find my next job that in today’s economy will not likely come close to replacing my former salary. I refinanced my house in April, in order to restructure our household debt, and paid another $11,000 in fees to do so. (That about equals 6 months of unemployment benefits.) I have watched my IRA and personal accounts, upon which I presently greatly rely, diminish by more than 35%. This represents 10 years of hard work and faithful savings in the belief that I will take care of myself in old age, not the government. I opened an account at Washington Mutual, only to find out a week later that the bank was being taken over by another. Other assets are at Morgan Stanley, which has also had to take drastic steps to remain solvent and functioning. Disturbing news for a household such as mine.

Sad to say it, but I am only a single data point out here among many and not unique in the overall economy. If you think for a moment that the "Main Street" euphemism plays any longer to those of us who are really scared of what’s next as financial institutions crumble around us, tax rolls diminish and chaos ensues, as our political leaders play one-upmanship and sponsor petty grudges against the opposition, then you are mistaken. We cannot afford any more political posturing. Stop grandstanding. Get a deal done and get it done NOW. Build back some of the public confidence and trust you were elected to support. Do what leaders do: LEAD. The current proposal had plenty of prudent measures to mitigate the risk, both practical and political, (for those of you whom it matters) and lots of oversight in it to prevent abuses or assess effectiveness. If you are truly a believer in free markets, then yesterday’s 777 Dow decline ought to have been a good enough indicator for you that you and others went in the wrong direction. That measure alone doesn’t tell the story, however, as I am certain you are getting plenty of stories like mine and that the collective losses incurred in the markets will be far more damaging (yesterday was $1.4 trillion, alone!) than the tax liabilities incurred by the rescue plan. You will soon be facing even greater numbers as more citizens go onto unemployment benefits, public subsidies of all kinds … is that what you want? I don’t!

I have many productive years of work left in me and a strong belief that I will overcome this current adversity all I ask is that you and your like-minded colleagues strongly consider the path out of this mess through solid public policy that keeps some fuel in the economic engine and permits a just workout of these substantial problems that face us while at the same time sending a message to the markets that is steady and reassuring.

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