Getting Out Of This Mess

November 19, 2008

November 19, 2008

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today's commentary--

We find our country in an unbelievable economic quagmire. Hovv can we get out of this mess? Maybe the place to start would be to ask -- what did we do to get into it in the first place?

We have been on a spending binge. That's right. Spend, spend, spend. Borrow. Pile up the debt. Families buy too much stuff. We have not limited ourselves to what we need. We buy to satisfy every little whim. Put it on the credit card. We're not saving. We haven't found it necessary to discipline ourselves. This excessive behavior by individuals has been carried to an extreme by our government. Years ago, Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen said something to the effect -- "A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon we're talking about real money." Now we're talking about trillions. That is real money.

The irony of this whole miserable situation is that the reckless behavior that got us into this mess is what we say now we must do to get out of the mess. Yes -- we need to spend. We must have a big stimulus package. We must bailout the auto industry with billions of dollars -- which, I might add, is throwing good money after bad. Consumers should start spending again. Buy something. Anything, whether you need it or not.

When we get through this, we need a more conservative balance of spending and borrowing. We want our economy to keep growing. We need to get our jobs back, and balance the federal budget. The adjustments that we face are going to be painful.

The Ag industry is feeling the pinch like everyone else. Farming has always been a boom and bust business. But this year is one for the books. Seven dollar corn, down to three dollars in four months. The hog business that was supposed to be improved by this fall is worse. The cost of growing next year's crop has gone out of sight. With the global economy in the tank, we worry about our export market.

Fortunately, the Ag industry has a strong balance sheet -- not like the auto industry. We'll be fine. It is just hard to visualize the correct path back to reasonable stability and prosperity.

Let's hope we are learning from this experience.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.