Remember to old story of the goose that laid golden eggs? A fellow took the goose away from an evil giant. For several years, he and his wife kept the goose and became quite prosperous as a result of her eggs.
One day a thief observed them getting the eggs, and stole the goose. For a little while he enjoyed the benefits, but he wasn’t getting rich as fast as he wanted. He tried stopping feeding the goose to save the money for her feed but that didn’t make enough difference.
One day he decided to kill the goose and take the eggs out so he could get them quicker. Only a few small eggs were found inside, and when they were gone, there were no more eggs. The thief eventually lost everything as a result of his greed.
This story and others like it have fallen out of favor with the educational experts today, but they taught some important lessons. Our children are being deprived of some very basic education as a result.
In recent years, we have seen real life examples of this particular story time after time. The Enron scandal is a prime example. The founders of Enron built up a large oil producing company that made profits for many years. Ken Leigh was able to take control of the company, and began to try to get more from it. At first, he stopped spending money on development of new supplies. While it gave a temporary spike in profits, by reducing expenses, it left the company with less ability to produce, effectively starving the company.
The increase in profits prompted a raise in stock prices, even though it indicated a loss of value. The increase in stock prices gave Leigh a large personal profit, but he couldn’t starve the company any more so he began to disembowel the company, selling off oil rights and production facilities. The influx of capital was seen as a positive thing by the stock market and stock prices mushroomed, Finally all the production assets were gone, and there was no further increase of cash, and it was discovered that the company was no longer producing. Leigh had sold his stock and walked away, but those who had bought lost their shirts. The company collapsed because the goose was dead.
The same scenario is being played out on a much larger scale with the U.S. economy. For years, the economy had steadily produced slowly increasing profits. Over time those benefiting became more concerned with the profits than with the health of the economy. Government began to demand more and more, as did investors and financial institutions.
The increased taxes, compensation requirements, and difficulty of obtaining employees, coupled with increased competition from overseas competitors began to starve the companies. They began to move production outside our economy in an effort to make profit. This in effect was a cutting open the goose to get to the next egg. It greatly weakened the goose, lowering production , but was not immediately fatal.
Banks and insurance companies got greedy, and began using derivatives such as Credit Default Swaps to increase their profits. A few financial institutions realized that they could obtain a huge cash influx by forcing profitable companies into bankruptcy. This seriously damaged other financial institutions, and cut a huge hole in the underbelly of the economy, resulting in massive layoffs, and loss of buying power, weakening the entire economy. They the began foreclosing on homes, enlarging the hole.
In a frantic attempt to maintain their current spending level, Congress, and the Federal Reserve ripped another hole to get to those undeveloped eggs, borrowing huge amounts of money and doubling our federal deficit. By putting the money back int the banks, the illusion of health has been restored and stock prices skyrocketed. Unfortunately, the goose is near death., and not producing eggs at the moment. Various states are proposing increasing taxes to maintain their programs. To do so will further disembowel the goose. At some point it will be fatal, and the economy will collapse.
Saving the goose will require stopping attempts to get more and repairing damage already done. It will also mean learning to get by without her production until she recovers. That will require not only not increasing taxes, but limiting financial charges by financial institutions, cutting and in many cases eliminating Government programs, and removing some restrictions from businesses to allow them to compete successfully.
Since seventy five percent of our economy is estimated to depend on discretionary spending by consumers, the customer must have more discretion in how he spends. Increased taxes and forced payments for insurance or government fees reduce his available discretionary funds. While it is felt that savings slow recovery, it is necessary to realize that those savings are available discretionary funds. Loan and mortgage payments reduce available funds, weakening the economy. We need to review our entire approach.