“If you do it wrong, hang your laundry for everyone to see it.” Those prophetic words were shared with me years ago by former Carroll County Sheriff and my friend Jimmy Thulen.
A recent article by Dave Mikelson in an area newspaper took me to task for an article I had written referring to a Congressional Committee Meeting chaired by Nancy Pelosi with hateful testimony from the rapper Jay Z, Tavis Smiley and Toure.
I reported that I had watched the Hearing. Mr. Mikelson was correct; I relied on comments from Bill O’Reilly.
Needless to say I damaged my own reputation by reporting as I did. For this I sincerely apologize.
Commentary . . .
We Need to Stop Eating the Marshmallows
By Dr. Joseph J. Horton
In a classic psychological study, hungry four-year-olds were offered a marshmallow. They were told that if they could wait about 20 minutes before eating, they could have two marshmallows instead of one.
Only about one-third of the children successfully delayed gratification and got two marshmallows. This ability to delay gratification as children predicted success in life decades later. They were more likely to study, do well in school and in careers. In addition, they had more successful social relationships. The ability to sacrifice today for gains tomorrow can pay big dividends.
About one-third of the children attempted to delay gratification but were unsuccessful. These kids did things like look at the marshmallow while considering how good marshmallows taste. Focusing on the marshmallow made the marshmallow more appealing and harder to resist. They had good intentions, but the children did not have the skills and discipline required.
The remainder of the children did not try to delay gratification, and they ate the one marshmallow right away. The data showed that these children were not as successful in life as those who were able to wait. Enjoying life now without a care about tomorrow is a recipe for a disappointing future.
It seems there might be a lesson here for America.
A disappointing future is rapidly approaching for our nation. The U.S. government, and many state governments, have made long-term promises without setting aside the resources to meet those promises. Detroit is the tip of a very large iceberg. It seems, in examples from all over the country, that we have elected too many politicians who would have chosen to immediately eat the single marshmallow.
For example, Pennsylvania, where I live, currently has unfunded liabilities for state employee retirement benefits of approximately $47 billion, according to the Commonwealth Foundation. That means politicians have promised to pay $47 billion worth of benefits for which they have not set aside money. Our politicians have made promises without planning how to pay for them. We have been given the sugar rush today, but the bill will eventually come due.
When talking about government spending, the word “billion” is thrown around casually and we are increasingly hearing “trillion” said with no sense of shock. Just how much money is $47 billion? The Pennsylvania General Fund budget is about $28.4 billion.
In addition to Pennsylvania’s unfunded retirement liabilities, the state and local governments have taken on more than $120 billion of debt—about four times the annual budget. We have about $10,000 of debt for every Pennsylvanian.
But here’s the really frightening thing: Pennsylvania is in far better shape than many states, such as California and Illinois—not to mention America as a whole.
The debt and unfunded liabilities at the federal level are simply astronomical. The debt is more than $16 trillion, or $50,000 for every citizen. This does not count unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare. We are on the precipice of becoming the next Greece, except that no one will be there to bail us out.
Politicians are not the source of the problem. The problem lies in the voters who elect them. It seems more and more voters not only want to eat their own marshmallow right away, but they want to eat the marshmallows of others without regard of how to, or who will, pay for our collective inability to delay gratification.
The good news is that self-control can be developed. Just as exercising can strengthen muscles, engaging in self-control improves the ability to delay gratification in the future. We can help our elected leaders improve their self-control. When our leaders show spending restraint, however small, we can thank them. If politicians begin to believe they will be rewarded for not spending, they will spend less.
The financial apocalypse has not yet arrived. With as much winsomeness as possible, we need to encourage our leaders to develop some self-control.
— Dr. Joseph J. Horton is professor of psychology at Grove City College and a researcher on Positive Youth Development with The Center for Vision & Values
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
“Politically correct”, what does it mean? On September 3, 2013 hopefuls can once again pull petitions to run for elected office in the November 2014 General Election. That is assuming, of course, that they win their primary on March 18, 2014.
For the State Representative and U.S. Congress positions, that means that there are only nine months of your two year term that you are not running for office. This will be the first time in twelve years that I will not seek signatures to be elected. My self-imposed term limit, not to exceed twelve years, the equivalency of two U.S. Senate terms, is up next year. Might I seek another office? - Perhaps, but not as your State Representative.
During these past years I have seldom been “politically correct” which is saying only the right thing and playing to your audience or choosing your words in such a way as to “say nothing at all”. Our President mastered the art of “political correctness” voting “present” 129 times as a State Senator.
I have always believed in calling it like it is. Most of you appreciate that, some think it’s terrible. You didn’t elect me to avoid the issues.
You are all aware that for the past two months the Governor has withheld our salaries until we pass “pension reform”. Certainly the Governor’s move is “politically correct” and the citizens seem to love it. “You go Governor - stick it to those lazy legislators”. Here is the fallacy. Where has the Governor been on comprehensive pension reform? Along the way I have been involved in many of the pension discussions. I have never seen the Governor at any of them. It certainly begs the question, where is his great idea and leadership?
A short week before our mandatory adjournment on May 31, the Governor called me to his office. As we were in session, I locked out my electronic voting buttons and headed to his office. It never entered my mind that it would be anything other than pension reform. You can’t make this stuff up folks - he wanted to know what it would take for me not to vote no on the gay marriage bill. It must be restated here - I have no issue with gay people. God loves us all. In my opinion politics has no place in sexual preference. The hundreds of gay couples in the capital complex certainly made the issue “politically correct”.
My response to the Governor was less than “politically correct”. “You could install a _____ no button.” The Governor smiled and dismissed me. It was not an attempt at being clever, more out of indignation, “you mean I’m not here to discuss pensions?” And so the beat goes on. The Governor gets some points for putting those now angry legislators in their place. I for one would sure appreciate his leadership.
I learned long ago that you gain more with honey than with vinegar. The Governor’s vinegar is not playing well in solving the pension issue but then again it is “politically correct.”