NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

August 20, 2013

Obama continues to divide country

As I See It
Richard A. Astukewicz

---- — I listened to President Obama’s economic speech on July 29 and I cannot understand how this man elected to a second term in office can stand there and preach to us his economic plan for the nation as if it were the magic elixir for us all.

On our economic recovery, the slowest recovery in our history, he prides himself on how far we have come. We had his stimulus plan and his auto industry bailout. Coupled with these plans we have had the Federal Reserve buying bonds on a monthly basis, also from the Federal Reserve. All this investment to jump-start the economy and we are still struggling along.

Detroit and 30 other cities have filed for bankruptcy and 100 other cities and/or states are facing the same. American workers are still seeking jobs that can support their families while the economy grows at a snail’s pace.

Industry, unions and states are having doubts and fears about what Obamacare will do when its full force takes place in 2014. The sides are so far apart and no one knows what actually will happen with this law. Personally, I believe it’s the wrong law at the wrong time.

The president laid out a 10-point plan for his economic growth agenda for the nation, but never once a mention as to how this nation, that’s you, the American taxpayer, will pay for his agenda. The president clearly believes that a large government is the only answer. His belief is clearly embedded in spend, borrow and tax.

The president talked about education, so I pulled out my college yearbook and went through it. We graduated 435 students in 1959 when tuition was $750 a semester. I guess we had the haves and have-nots back then because 64 of us were known as “day hops” — we did not live on campus. I looked at the 64 and I knew almost all of them. There were a few who had the luxury of just going to school studying. The bigger percentage of these 64 day hops worked at part-time jobs. A few of us caddied and that included me.

These 64 day hops wanted an education and we found a way to get it: hard work, sacrifice and personal responsibility. If you want something bad enough you can find a way to do it.

The president talked about a minimum wage, which I support. As the president spoke on this as a way to help the middle class, my thoughts went deeper into this. The last 25 years of my working days, I worked for a small company with 12 units. The president of this company in 25 years never failed to give a yearly raise and a yearly bonus; he did not miss one year. That’s probably some kind of record. The problem: Wages are a bottom-line profit; every increase in wages lowers profit margins, consequently during this time we raised our markup margins from 31 percent to 45 percent markup. The drawback, wages increased but the cost of goods and services increased also.

Raising the minimum wage will not result in a better middle class; it just raises the cost of goods and services as companies need to maintain profits to continue to survive.

My final thought is that President Obama continues to divide this nation like no president in my lifetime. First it was the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent, then it was the haves and the have-nots; now it’s an equitable wage for all and a retired pension for all. He continues to uphold only the laws he agrees with despite his oath to uphold all the laws of the nation.

On Jan. 1, 2014, the nation’s middle class, the poor, will see their discretionary cash available for spending diminish, almost disappear as taxes increase along with health insurance, heating costs, gasoline prices rise, food costs escalate. We Americans will be facing hard times and an uncertain future as our national debt rises to $18 trillion.

America, you voted for him not once, but twice. Now try to enjoy your decision.

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Richard A. Astukewicz of Salisbury is a retired business manager.