Is Saving Patriotic?
A time of crisis often brings people together. This was certainly the case right after 9/11. For many of us, the current worldwide economic meltdown has caused our pocketbooks to be our personal ground zero.
When asked how Americans could pitch in to heal our grieving nation after 9/ll, President Bush suggested we go shopping. The idea was that the more we shopped, the faster the economy would grow which would benefit everyone, even if we couldn’t afford our purchases.
There was a time when saving was considered more patriotic than shopping. In 1941, the U.S. Treasury began issuing savings bonds to help finance World War II. The first person to buy these “war bonds” was Franklin D. Roosevelt. In so doing, he encouraged fellow Americans to fund the war in part through their savings. In contrast, President Bush’s policy relies on the savings of China and other foreign nations to finance the Iraq War. Ultimately our children and children’s will children will inherit the bill.
Unfortunately, while our government has encouraged a consumer based economy, its tax policy has made saving punitive. Have you checked out interest rates recently on a savings account at your local bank? On average, they’re less than one percent, well below the rate of inflation. To add insult to injury, the government then taxes you on your measly interest earnings. It’s little wonder that people would rather consume than save at that rate. Wouldn’t it make more sense to allow tax free interest on savings at least to the rate of inflation?
In less than three months we’ll have a new president and administration. If he asks what our country can do for us, I’d say encourage us to save. If he asks what we can do for our country, my answer would be the same. Saving is patriotic for the sake of our country’s future, for the sake of our children.