The Recession

February 4, 2009

February 4, 2009

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--

Every day, there is more discouraging news about our economy. We are losing jobs. Personal savings is evaporating. Of course, the natural reaction for individuals is to tighten our belts, pay down our debts, and reduce spending. We've been through recessions before and that is what we do.

We also look for help, some solution. Only the government has that power to stop the bleeding. Maybe yes and maybe no. How did we get into this mess? We have been living beyond our means -- borrowing and spending too much. Running up credit card debt. Buy a house. Then, take out a home equity loan. Spend the money. It's not the way it was supposed to happen, but the value of the house goes down -- not up. The investment is under water. That happened to farm land in the early 80's. Thousands of rural banks that had loaned money went broke. We lost thousands of farmers, too.

We are in recession because of excessive borrowing and spending. I'm not convinced that the way out is for the government to repeat the same excesses.

Does the stimulus package have to be so big? Either our grandchildren will have to pay it back or runaway inflation will take over and the value of our money will diminish. The government is promising all this money. I can't even envision how much a trillion dollars is. Everyone wants some of the money -- they are standing in line. It's like mom calling out -- "cookies in the kitchen. " You could get run over in the stampede.

We've already given money to banks, automobile companies, insurance companies -- now, the states want some, the cities, nutrition programs, energy development, endowment for the arts even -- the list is endless. Who doesn't want money?

I guess Congress must appear to be doing something, but I don't think there is any pain-free solution. If borrowing and spending got us in this mess, it's not logical to think borrowing and spending is the way to get out.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.