Miles Urges Calm and Compromise in Sac Bee Op-Ed

Larry Miles

Larry Miles

Founder Larry Miles urged calmness and compromise in a Viewpoint Opinion published in the Sacramento Bee on August 6, 2011.  Recalling Franklin Roosevelt’s famous exhortation, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Miles observed that the economic recovery has been impaired because of the fear created by politicians who care more about their “extreme positions” than the country’s health. The full Op-Ed article is set forth below with a link to the Bee here:  Viewpoints: Ideological fights to the death are not helping in  .

Viewpoints: Ideological fights to  the death are not helping in tough times

By Larry Miles
Special  to The Bee
Published:  Saturday, Aug.  6, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 11A
If Franklin Roosevelt were alive today he might exclaim once  again, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Our leaders have done us  a disservice on many scores, but the failure in recent days to inspire us to  calmness and steadfast resolve is perhaps of the first order. A cacophony of  negativity and talking heads seeks to condemn every citizen to fitful nights:  distressed, depressed and despondent.

That folks from working class stiffs to hedge fund managers, from the  unemployed to the retired, from teachers to talk-show hosts, are nervous is  understandable. But we need to gut this recession out, hang together, quit  blaming everyone and everything, and get to the other side. We need stability.  Confidence will follow stability, and recovery will follow confidence.

Plainly, we are in difficult times. However, this is not the near collapse of  the world global economy that we fortuitously avoided by minutes and the sheer  economic force of the U.S.  government in October 2008. We have moved beyond that.

As we ushered in 2011, there really was good news. Jobs were being  created, consumer  confidence was up, growth was occurring, people were beginning to spend a  little money. Domestically, the auto  industry was leading a strong consumer recovery. Then a whole series of  global setbacks and domestic miscues kept landing punches. Ireland, Greece, Japan and the tsunami, oil prices; all of those international factors took  a toll. The state budget impasse and debt ceiling debacle did not help.

In June and July, Japanese car sales dropped 25 percent in the U.S. as  dealers guarded their existing inventory. But the Japanese are recovering their  production capacity with a sense of national urgency, and U.S. import dealers  are – or were – projecting robust sales in the second half of this year. Ford  sales were down the past few months, but only because its factories couldn’t  keep pace with demand. And while GM announced a few days ago a projected slower  second half than initially expected earlier this year, they were running several  shifts at their plants and recalling workers to ramp up inventory.

Our leaders in Sacramento and Washington do us no favors when they choose to  devolve into ideological fights to the death. The notion held by a distinct  minority of politicians that their extreme political prescriptions matter more  than the patient’s health is simply unacceptable and untenable.

California’s state budget is undeniably critically important, but it reflects  less than 5 percent of the $1.8 trillion dollar gross domestic product of the  eighth largest economy in the world. However, it gets 95 percent of the media  attention when our leaders fail to collaborate and produce a responsible budget.  The entire ruckus unnerves even the most sedate of us.

Similarly, as each day of the distressingly uncivil discourse progressed in  Washington, people became more fearful of the predicted calamitous outcome of  the ruinous debate until, finally, places like car dealerships became ghost  towns once again.

There are real reasons our recovery is ailing. Construction is going to keep  our recovery soft until we can blow out all these foreclosures that are still in  the market, but you can see the light at the end of the foreclosure tunnel. We  do need to get credit going again. We’ve over-corrected from lending anyone with  a pulse any amount, to denying people named Rockefeller a loan. We need existing  stimulus money to be released for construction projects.

Frankly, the contraction of the government sector is also holding us back. To  be sure, we need profitable car dealers, shop keepers, hotel owners and other  entrepreneurs, but we also need teachers, custodians, DMV clerks, judges, park  rangers, air traffic controllers, cops, firefighters and the like. When we  complain too much about government employees, we not only minimize the  importance of the public service provided by such workers, but we advocate for  the elimination of our customers.

Do we need to tighten our governmental belts, improve efficiency and  responsiveness, and do some targeted pension reforms? Sure. But enough already  on the demonization of public service; it’s not helping.

Yes, it’s going to be tough for a while, but let’s take a deep breath, calm  down and have some confidence. We’re not a herd to be stampeded off a cliff.  Franklin Roosevelt said it best in 1932 when he was trying to inspire the  country to confidence in the depths of the Great Depression. “This great nation  will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.”


Larry Miles  is vice president  of the San Juan Unified School District Board  of Education. Miles was a Democratic candidate for Assembly District 5 in  2010.

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