TOSETTI: Get our acts together, start managing the present

Are you concerned? I am.

This has nothing to do with politics, as I am a true independent and have been for a long time, knowing that there are good people on both sides.

Lately there seems to be a lot of discussion on the State of Illinois and more particularly, rural America, the small towns in it, the counties and the townships, and the struggles most of them are facing.

Having been in business 40-plus years with offices in four different communities for many years, just having received my 50-year electrical pin, being a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, National Association of Realtors, State Auctioneers Association, Farm Bureau and while my wife was living she belonged to the Teachers’ Association, I think I have had a pretty broad view of things for a long time. I understand many of the challenges businesses and people alike have to deal with on a daily basis. I realize the cost we face as a community, a county and a township as we try to maintain ourselves day to day and year to year.

The governor recently decided he should tour some small towns in Illinois to see some of the problems they may be facing. Either he is smart enough to realize there are some problems or not smart enough to realize how long they have existed.

Small businesses have always been the backbone of rural communities and counties, along with the many farms that exist. Right now, these small businesses find themselves in difficult situations. They either have to own or rent a building, they have insurances to pay, maintenance costs, utilities, phones, computer costs, fax machines, supplies, postage cost, licensing cost, bookkeeping costs, advertising costs, donations, automobiles to run, organizations to belong to, employees to pay, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, social security and some of them offer health benefits and pensions, so it takes these businesses an enormous amount of money to open their doors every day.  Some have a 115 percent of work, but it cost a 125 percent to hire someone.  Many have to manage and work too and, in some cases, big business can sell something cheaper than they can buy it.

Then of course, we all have to pay some property taxes which have also gotten a bit out of hand. It is like reverse motivation. Improve things and it will cost you more, let them run down and it will cost you less. We also have high sales taxes, gas taxes, etc., and if you are fortunate enough to show a profit, the state wants you to pay 4.95 percent tax on your money too, for now, but there seems to be nothing more permanent than a temporary tax. It has put many businesses at the tipping point.

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I’m not one to blame people, but the state has put us in this predicament with all the high taxes (property taxes, sales tax, income tax, etc.) and it is not that they don’t get enough money, but they squander a lot of what they get. If we give them more they just spend more so we all have a bad feeling about that and it is like a slow-motion decline. It’s kind of simple: spend what you have, spend what you know you are going to get, but don’t spend money that you will probably never get, because that leads to bad things like we are seeing now. Is anything ever cut?

I recently purchased an item that cost me $599 and the sales tax on top of the purchase price was an additional $51. I recently got license stickers for a 1974 and a 1983 grain truck, an older flat bed trailer and a 2011 pickup and it cost $630 for one year. We have reached a point: you make money and you are taxed on it, you save money, they tax you on the savings, you spend the savings, they charge you sales tax on what you are buying. In the State of Illinois, one can work his or her entire lifetime to create an estate, maybe a legacy to pass down through generations, but the state has put a $4 million limit on your estate, so if it exceeds the limit, it is taxed.

A country is generally going to be judged by how well they care for the young, old, sick and disabled. We seem to have gotten into a pattern where we are dishing it out more at the top and bottom and sometimes it is needed but sometimes it is not. A person who may be out there trying, and they are working for minimum wage or maybe they make a little more, but they are really making an effort to make it, and it is tough, so instead of continuing to help them out some, we take away their benefits. Instead of trying to help pull them up more, we almost bring them back down.

Some of the leaders in our state need to be honest with themselves as to what they are getting:  high salaries, pensions, insurance, etc., and many are part-time politicians.  We are all faced with many dilemmas. Older people are outliving their resources. You could save a small fortune and without health insurance it could be gone in no time with a sickness. College costs have reached a point where many individuals struggle to be able to go and without an educated society we will find ourselves in a bigger predicament. Do we need to reassess our educational system to meet the needs of all with more trade schools, etc.?

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I guess I could go on like a lot of people could, but I believe we are in trouble. I have always been more positive rather than negative and we all should count our blessings every day because we have more than many others, but yet we spend most our time complaining. Maybe we need to appreciate rather than expect.

We should go back to the old American way: work hard, be honest and get ahead!  Remember that old adage of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay?  It always used to work that way. Appreciate what you have rather than expecting more and more. Are we little by little slipping from a country of opportunity to one of entitlement?

We have always been a bit embattled as a nation, but for the most part we have always tried to do what was best for the overall situation and could disagree without being disagreeable, but that does not seem to be the case any more. It seems to be, “What is best for me?”

There are a lot of good people out there, but it seems kind of creepy. Do we have the adults, statesman, and strong people like we once did?  Is there going to be a day of reckoning for all of this?

Freedom is not free! Go to a military cemetery; that speaks for itself. We all have a responsibility to do what is best for everyone. We have a duty to do things for our country and others also, not only ourselves. People will remember you for what you did for others, not only for yourself. There does not have to be winners and losers. We have lost a lot of our manners and our value system. We don’t seem to be ashamed of things like we used to be! Maybe we all need to get our acts together and start managing the present better. If we did that, we could probably create a better and more hopeful future! Let’s turn the page.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “The most uncommon thing is common sense.”

Jack E. Tosetti

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