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Time to pull that trigger

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Defining moments were perhaps a gradual slide into the abyss

By Jeffry Gardner

There have been so many “defining moments” in our nation’s history – every election today, for example, is proclaimed such – the term is more cliche than truth.
Our war for independence was obviously a defining moment – not solely for our country, but for the world, as it turned out. The Civil War – the election of Lincoln and the anti-slavery voice countering the growing power of the South.
Two world wars. The civil rights movement. We send a man to the moon. Those were genuinely defining moments.
In every case, we rose to the challenge and excelled. We shared in sacrifice. Made ends meet. 
As trite as it may seem, the election of Barack Obama was less pivotal, perhaps, than the economic tumult we are in. Discussions about our recovery, though technically accurate, seem premature.
Our national debt, a war that no one wants to believe is a war – we could leave Afghanistan today and it wouldn’t change our enemy’s course – and the state of our states is, I believe, driving us into another defining moment. New Mexico’s a little microcosm of this perfect storm of events that may well ultimately define my generation as the one that brought this nation to its knees.
Our declining revenues from oil and gas clashed with the Richardson administration’s desire to spend money – particularly on high priced fiascoes. For decades to come we’ll be paying for a train that runs in a straight line from Belen to Santa Fe.  A half-billion-dollar headline grabber that serves those who live along the roughly 90-mile stretch of track in a state that measures 121,600 square miles.
The Rail Runner is a text book example of a progressive plan: It sounds hip. It serves an insatiable desire to dictate our lifestyle. It will run mercilessly in the red into perpetuity. 
Perhaps there’s some twisted comfort in knowing that nearly every state in the nation has its Rail Runner. Not trains, per se. Public employee contracts that obligate us to salaries and benefits we simply can’t sustain.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s being vilified by the mainstream media for trying to right that state’s financial ship, in part, by changing the state employees’ collective bargaining rules.
A fascist act, you say? Well, take a look at how effective Wisconsin’s public employees’ unions have been in recent years. These are the oppressed workers of Wisconsin?    
My generation – Baby Boomers – seems hell bent on greedily demanding water from an empty well. Pick a state and odds are the cupboards aren’t just bare, the shelves have been gnawed away.
In fact, every state on our border is operating in the red – ranging from Utah’s roughly $100 million deficit to Texas’ massive $25 billion-plus shortage.
A lot of that debt is generated by the feds. Unfunded mandates are the perfect tool for the men and women in congress to give the appearance of doing something and passing along the bill to the state.
But in the end, states are battling public employee unions, while our federal misery stems from our desire to give everyone everything and pray to God someone down the line has the ability to pay for it.
We can’t pay for it. The current administration admits as much.
During recent hearings reviewing the president’s budget, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told the Senate Budget Committee that that budget’s spending is “unsustainable.”
The budget, in essence, is a plan that will collapse our economy.
That’s the type of courage, no doubt, that will lift us up to this challenge, yes? Of course it won’t.
We are staring down the barrel of a defining moment. Unlike our ancestors, however, we can’t seem to get our finger off the trigger.

Jeffry Gardner
NM News Services