Let me say right up front that this is an off topic article. I’m sure there are aspects that apply to travel – such as Air Travel. But for the most part this article is about The Sequester.
So it appears that the Sequester is here. I didn’t even know what that word meant prior to recent events. But it’s meaning in the current situation appears to be “a general cut in government spending.” And now this “general cut” has arrived and we have to learn to deal with it. The issue is all over the news. ” It’s terrible.” “It’ll be hard on folks.” “It will create problems.” And for all I know, those concerns are probably accurate. But there is another side. Perhaps simply unspoken. Or perhaps one nobody wants to think or talk about.
Before getting into this “other side”, let me say that I am no financial wizard. I’m not an economist – I’m a psychologist, photographer, and writer. And I’m not a great political mind. I quite honestly don’t know a whole lot about the details of this Sequester thing. So keep that in mind. If you want to discount my thoughts or write a rant about this article – by all means – go ahead. I’m an easy target.
I tend to think in a rather simple fashion I suppose. The United States of America currently maintains an absolutely huge debt. And apparently the debt has continued to grow in a fashion which pretty much everybody agrees is unsustainable. So, unless we want to see the country eventually crash around our ears, this debt has to be reigned in and then reduced. At least that seems to be a good idea, one with which most folks agree. And it appears that is exactly what this Sequester will do. It will cut nearly $85 Billion from US expenditures over the next 10 months. Now even for the government – that’s a pretty big number. The Sequester will take a significant step toward addressing the unsustainable US debt.
So here is the “other side” of the Sequester issue – what I have read or heard relatively little about. From a debt reduction point of view it seems the Sequester is a good thing – a step in the right direction. It doesn’t solve the debt problem, but it is a beginning.
I’m not saying the specific provisions and details of the Sequester are the best way to cut $85 Billion from the budget. My guess is that there would be many other ways to accomplish this which might have been better – at least for some, while perhaps worse for others. But the point is, nobody was able to step up and get it done and now – Welcome To Sequester. (The somewhat cynical side of me thinks that the sequester is every politician’s way to save face. With the Sequester they didn’t have to make hard choices and vote “for” cutting spending. They could just sit passively by, let the Sequester take effect, and then say how horrible it is that those “other guys” let this happen. Yikes!)
How did we get here? By searching for easy answers and avoiding discomfort.
How do we now deal with this? Learn how to make difficult decisions and deal with discomfort.
Let’s face it. No one likes pain or discomfort. We all avoid these as much as possible. But increasingly we live in a society – perhaps a world? – where we believe that all pain should be, and can be, avoided. We live in a world where there is a suggested medicine for every type of malady because there is really no reason a person should experience discomfort. We live in a time when increasingly people feel that if they want something they should have it. We shouldn’t have to experience the discomfort of doing without. And not only should we have what we want, we should have it now! We shouldn’t have to wait for gratification. Frustration tolerance and delay of gratification? Who needs them – that’s no fun – that’s uncomfortable.
This whole pain and discomfort avoidance thing impacts Americans in every configuration – individuals, couples, families, businesses, etc. (I could go on about these areas but that would be clearly “beyond the scope” of this article.) The search for easy answers and constant comfort is understandable of course. But it is not realistic. And it is clearly not realistic when it comes to the National Debt. There is not going to be an easy answer to the debt problem. And any effective answer is going to involve discomfort.
The phrase that comes to mind is “no pain – no gain.” But in most areas of life today everyone seems to be in search of the magical solution: “Give me the gain but I don’t want the pain.” Loose weight, but eat what you want? How does that work? Make more money but do less work? Get a better job but not get advanced training? You get the idea.
Sports seems to be possibly the one area where the “no pain – no gain” principle is understood and accepted. Athletes, at least the good ones, know that if they want to succeed they must make the difficult decision to commit themselves to work hard. And they know that they must push themselves to improve and that this means they will experience discomfort and pain. They don’t “cheap out” and try to find easy answers and to avoid pain. They accept the “no pain – no gain” realities, make the difficult decisions, and do the work in spite of the pain. They “man up” (no disrespect to the ladies – “person up” just doesn’t seem to carry the same meaning yet.) Only then can they hope to achieve success.
The current Sequester comes as a result of our politicians’ failure to “man up” and make difficult decisions. They are continuing in their efforts to avoid the personal pain and discomfort of making hard decisions which may be seen by their constituents as unpopular. And now, many in America are currently bemoaning all the the terrible pain and discomfort that this Sequester will reign down on us all. The news media seem to play a prominent role in this respect, sensationalizing all the downside impact. (Quiet honestly, I have yet to see or hear any media reporting on the positive impact of the Sequester on the budget problem. Maybe I just missed it?)
So here’s my bottom line. It’s time for a “Reality Check.” Everyone experiences discomfort in life – It’s part of the human condition. It cannot be avoided – try as we might. Avoiding difficult decisions in order to escape discomfort rarely leads to good solutions. It’s time for government to “man up” and make the difficult but realistic decisions required. And it’s time for us all to accept the need for these difficult decisions and to become better at pushing through, and surviving the discomfort. American’s are known for their strength and resilience. We’ve successfully dealt with difficulty and discomfort before – we can do it again.
The Sequester ……. Enjoy the Adventure!
Dr.B, The Photo Trekker
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