Whom Would You Trust with Your Savings: Your Grandfather or Big Brother?

Dennis Miller  |

My grandfather was named William Smith, and he was about as common a man as his name implies. He was an army sergeant in WW II, then came home and ran the family farm when the war was over. I doubt he ever heard of Keynesian or Austrian economic theories, but his words of wisdom made it clear just where he stood.

His advice and opinions were more of the commonsense variety:

Big Brother promotes an entirely different way of living. It tells us an economy based on spending is the key to economic health and happiness. The more you spend, the more jobs are created, and the happier we are as a society. Even if we're spending borrowed money, that is OK. It is our civic duty to just keep spending for the good of all.

Whenever there's an economic slowdown, our glorified government leaders increase the government deficit and pump money into the economy. Why? To prime the spending pump and get our economy going once again.

The real result may be high inflation and unsustainable government debt, but economists are hell-bent on maintaining that their theories are correct. They keep saying the government is not spending enough, and laugh in the face of common sense.

The US federal government has missed the boat for quite some time, and it makes little difference which political party is in office. The spend-spend-spend program never seems to work.

You probably remember receiving a Bush tax rebate check back in 2001. They were supposed to "give families a break" and "help stimulate the economy." The rebates were the results of retroactive tax legislation, and returned $38 billion to Americans taxpayers. Hey, I'm all for lower taxes, but when Walmart started advertising that it would happily cash the checks—ranging from $300 to $600 a pop—right at the checkout lines, something sure seemed fishy. Home Depot took it one step further: it offered customers credit based on the expected amount of the rebate. Wow, I wonder what my grandfather would have thought about that.

The rebate checks were an elaborate way to get Americans to spend $38 billion. They were supposed to get our economy going again. They were supposed to create jobs and an income tax base that would more than offset the $38 billion—plus whatever it cost to administer the rebate program (I won't even wager a guess).

As Big Brother economists see it, when times are tough, you just go ahead and spend at a faster pace. Spending makes everything OK. Since the 2008 recession began, the federal government has stepped on the accelerator and added $7 trillion to the national debt. At the same time, unemployment is still close to 8%, and the number of people on food stamps has more than doubled.

Real people, however, are saying no to overspending and fighting back. Bloomberg reports:

"Three-plus years into a recovery from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Americans are finally getting their finances back into shape, Federal Reserve figures show. Household debt as a share of disposable income sank to 113 percent in the second quarter from a record high of 134 percent in 2007 before the recession hit. Debt payments on that basis are the smallest in almost 18 years, while the delinquency rate for credit cards is the lowest since the end of 2008."

This isn't the first time regular folks have said "no" to spending and "yes" to common sense. As it turns out, when CNN/USA Today conducted a poll on those 2001 tax rebates I mentioned earlier, 79% of respondents planned to save the money or use it to pay bills.

So, with Big Brother dumping trillions of dollars into the economy, why isn't it rapidly improving? With all the high-priced economists the government has on hand, you would think one of them would look back to the Kennedy investment tax credit. If you are going to use our tax dollars to stimulate the economy, spend our tax dollars after businesses have spent the money and created jobs. Don't spend the money first and hope it will work.

(As an aside, I would like to whisper to the NSA employee assigned to read our stuff: Don't give the money to banks. Give it to businesses for having already created jobs. Please steal this idea and take it to your boss. Maybe you will get a bonus for saving our country trillions of dollars.)

My grandfather would likely question whether politicos really believe the spend-spend-spend economic theory at all. He would contend it is simply more fun to spend—other people's money in particular—than it is to save.

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When it comes to business and each of us as individuals, we are more in line with my grandfather. He would have just called it plain old common sense: "No dang theory about it at all!" When times are tough, you get out of debt, stay out of debt, and save your money, because you just never know when you might need it.

While my grandfather has been dead for a couple of generations, let's hope somewhere in this country there is another William Smith who can get to Washington, use some common sense, and get things straightened out. In the meantime, when it comes to personal finances, whom are you going to listen to, your grandfather or Big Brother?

Frankly, I'm inclined to believe my grandfather, especially now that Big Brother is doing all it can to actually hurt those of us who have worked hard and saved our whole lifetimes. Rising debt, currency devaluation, increased taxes, unfunded entitlement programs, and near-zero interest rates are punishing savers. These factors have collided to force us into taking greater investing risks just to try to stay ahead.

I receive a lot of email from my readers asking for advice on what to do. We cover a lot of their concerns in my newsletter, Miller's Money Weekly, and now we're going a step further.

Last month, we brought together a blue-ribbon cast of experts to analyze the challenges retirees and soon-to-be retirees face in today's economy and markets. They presented sound financial strategies to make your money last as long as you do that's still as timely and important today.

Our experts included John Stossel, formerly co-anchor on ABC’s 20/20 and now the host of Stossel with Fox Business Network, David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States, and financial planning expert Jeff White, president of American Financial Group.

There’s no cost to this online strategy session, and you can watch it instantly by going to www.americasbrokenpromise.org.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer.

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