(The following editorial was written by Bruce Burke and published in the Centre Daily Times in September 2011)

Let’s Look for Common Ground

Politically and philosophically, I am about as conservative as they come. I believe strongly in my point of view, as do most of my liberal friends. The fact is that our country’s finances are a mess and we must look for solutions while we still have the ability to choose. We must not take this for granted…things could quite possibly get bad enough that we no longer have that freedom. Let’s not let more pain finally bring us together. Instead, let’s swallow our pride and forget about ideology. Let’s be proactive and look for real solutions. For me, the first step involves doing the unthinkable…looking at where liberals may be correct.

To begin, I must share that the idea of raising taxes is a non starter, but for only one reason…waste and inefficiency. I have no problem giving more than my share, but that doesn’t mean I embrace throwing my hard earned money away. Think about it. With $2,161.7 billion in annual receipts, we should have the best infrastructure, the best healthcare, the best social services, and continue to have the best military without running any deficit at all. The reason we don’t is simple; inefficiency. Running a successful enterprise is difficult. It takes commitment, hard work and attention to detail. Given the lack of competition, the government simply cannot provide these services as efficiently as the private sector.

In order to get out of this mess, I believe that, just as conservatives are correct that we must limit spending, liberals are correct that we must generate more income. Without getting into the mind numbingly old debate about trickle down economics (which I believe in) and how best to generate income, what solutions might we be able to find?

I would be willing to bet that many of us would forego our Social Security benefits if we could be guaranteed it was going to be used to provide real social security for someone less fortunate and not “loaned” to another government program. I know I certainly would. I am extremely grateful to be an American and have the unlimited opportunity, just by virtue of being American, to succeed. If capable of making this kind of sacrifice, why not do it? The argument that “it’s my money, not the governments” is true, but so what?  There are many of us who fully intend, through hard work and opportunity, to retire comfortably with or without Social Security. If making this kind of sacrifice makes our children and grandchildren’s lives more secure, we must do it. After all, we are the ones who created this mess.

How about other means of increasing tax revenue? The best idea would be to blow up our current system and create tax policy that eliminates deductions and lowers rates for everyone. Short of that, we must look for other options. Why not eliminate the tax deduction on second homes, or even first homes after $500,000.00? As much as I believe in my conservative philosophies, I think it is intellectually dishonest to say that moves like this would affect an individual’s investment decisions. But again, none of this makes sense if the money is going to be wasted. The big question then is obviously how we work together to accomplish this.

Perhaps if we conservatives took the lead and stepped up, liberals would soften and look for the good in our position. Perhaps they would realize that it isn’t about greed for us, but about waste.

Bruce Burke is founder of One on One Fitness in St. College, Pa.

He can be reached at www.oneononefit.com.