Tuesday, October 25 , 2016, 12:46 pm | Fair 67º


Diane Dimond: Will It Take a Revolution to Fix America’s Economy?

If you haven’t seen the new movie Les Misérables, you must. It is a staggeringly powerful presentation of revolution in 19th-century France, and once you see it you will never forget it. The haunting music and lyrics will stay top-of-mind for weeks.

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men ... “

Now wait. I haven’t suddenly become a film critic, not at all. But I must say as I watched this monumental movie about peasants seeking justice, I was struck by the comparisons one could make to the growing turmoil in modern America. Today, it is all about the percolating economic upheaval in the United States that is certain to crush us all in the years ahead if something isn’t done — and fast.

Politicians in Washington may be patting themselves on the back for preventing a fall off what they called the nation’s “fiscal cliff,” but really what they have done is just put off the hard decisions until another day.

They failed to do their job until the last possible moment, and when they finally acted, their solution was disappointingly lackluster. Their kick-the-can-down-the-road compromise solution doesn’t help the economy in the long run, and it certainly does nothing for future generations who are likely to drown in the red ink we leave behind.

Think you would be able to keep your job if you failed day after day, year after year to perform your duties in a timely fashion? Honestly, I don’t know how these “leaders” in Congress — who earn $193,400 to $223,500 a year (plus perks) — can look at themselves in the mirror. Their actions border on criminal, in my opinion.

In the wake of Congress’ recent fiscal cliff votes, increasing segments of America are getting angrier. The poor who struggle to feed their families and pay the bills are angry. People who can’t find jobs after searching for months or years are angry. Now, those individuals making more than $400,000 are angry because they are facing substantial tax increases that many of them say will keep them from hiring new employees or buying big-ticket items such as new homes, cars or major appliances. That spending could have helped ignite the nation’s sputtering economy, but now it never will.

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men ...”

The simple truth that few speak is that tax increases are never going to fix an economy that borrows up to $1 trillion a year for entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and food stamps), defense spending, tax credits and other government programs. America is simply going to have to substantially cut spending — period. Don’t politicians get that? Reminds me of the movie’s song “Beggars at the Feast.”

“Everywhere you go
Law-abiding folk
Doing what is decent — but they’re mostly broke!”

It’s time for everyone — from lawmakers who continue to push for funding of nonvital hometown projects to the countless thousands of special-interest lobbyists — to reign in the urge to hold out their hand for more money. There isn’t any more money. And logic tells us that to print more is sheer insanity. It’s time for elected officials in Washington to do what must be done; otherwise, within the next decade the national debt will overtake us all. It is as clear as black and white — or as the French revolutionary’s final call for change put it in the song, “Red and Black”:

“The color of the world is changing day by day
Red — the blood of angry men!
Black — the dark of ages past!
Red — a world about to dawn!
Black — the night that ends at last!”

If we truly want America’s economic slide to end, if we really want to reclaim superpower status for the country, we will have to regain our economic footing. The dirty little secret solution to America’s fiscal woes is that even more segments of the population will have to be made angry if we are ever going to get a grip on this slippery slope to total insolvency. We have all become slaves to past bad thinking that we could simply throw money at things and social problems would magically disappear.

Most important, more of us have to care about the economic slavery we all endure these days. I know, just getting through the week is hard. Paying the rent or mortgage is sometimes impossible. Finding enough time away from work for children, elderly parents or just plain relaxation is nearly impossible.

We’ve all become slaves in our own way to the shrinking power of the American dollar. But somehow we citizens have to find time to pick up the revolutionary banner that reads, “NO MORE RED INK.” It will surely be painful for everyone, but it’s a revolution in thinking that’s long overdue.

“Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?
Then join the fight
That will give you the right to be free.”

It might very well take a modern-day revolution to install leaders bold and brave enough to get done what must be done — to stop spending money that simply isn’t there. And voters must begin to insist upon it ... or else.

“Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again.”

You in? If you’re wavering, you might want to see the movie to understand what’s at stake.

Diane Dimond is the author of Cirque Du Salahi: Be Careful Who You Trust. Contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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