BUZ LIVINGSTON: Debt vigilantes take heed

Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 10:22 AM.

Replacing infrastructure will reduce unemployment and energy investments can reduce greenhouse gases and fossil fuel demands. I like Audi’s Super Bowl commercial but the third quarter power failure starkly advertises our third-world power grid. During the signature American event, the lights have to stay on; they did at The Red Bar. 

Nutting may be on to something with his next argument-income inequality. According to the Congressional Budget Office, from 1979 to 2007 (essentially my working life), the average income for the top 1 percent increased by 277 percent. The 80 percent in the middle saw their income increase by 38 percent. It’s not that the middle class is slackers (or takers), while inflation-adjusted wages crept up 1/2 percent annually productivity grew three times as much. Retired neurologist William Bernstein argues inequality leads to higher social, medical and political costs. He also points out some data links inequality with lower economic growth.

Don’t blast Bernstein as an income redistributor. His company, Efficient Frontier Advisors, will manage your money but requires a $10 million minimum.

Money talks and its increasing influence in politics bodes poorly for America. Unlimited, unrestricted and often hidden corporate donations allow business interests to shape debate and influence legislators. When America cranked the engine on this great experiment only white men who owned property (in those days wealthy) could vote. Since the beginning of our democracy, there has been an increase — often sluggish but steady — in participation at the ballot box. Now voting rights are under attack; people shouldn’t have to wait for hours to vote. 

Yes, the debt trajectory is unsustainable and we can’t ignore other important problems either. Don’t trust everyone’s motive, some use the debt crisis to advance their agenda-Social Security privatization, for instance.

Buz Livingston, CFP offers hourly financial planning and fee-only investment management to clients along Florida’s Emerald Coast.  Contact him at 850-267-1068, Buz@LivingstonFinancial.netor www.LivingstonFinancial.net.


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