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A Letter From Brent Steele
Updated May 5, 2013 1:01 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(UNDATED) - A letter to the citizens of district 44 from state senate Brent Steele.
Brent Steele.jpg

Dear Citizens of District 44,

I have a story I would like to tell.

I feel it is relevant, because Gov. Mitch Daniels demanded that after all was said and done on the budget, he wanted $1 billion left in the Rainy Day Reserve Fund. Many gave him a hard time about wanting to save. Thus my story.

Many of you might be young enough that your parents weren't alive during the Great Depression, so I have no idea if you can relate or get to hear stories around the family table. Perhaps your grandparents were just kids, but how many of you know someone who was young, married and had kids at that time? Most of these people have passed away.

After my dad and mom graduated from high school in 1926, dad went to work in the stone quarries. By 1929, he had worked his way to a ledge foreman and mom was pregnant. They rented a little house on T Street here in Bedford. Life was good.

Then, the Depression hit, the building trades halted and the stone industry slowed. Dad was out of work. Mom delivered her baby at home. It was a hard delivery, dad said. The old doctor came to help and charged dad $7. Dad had $14 to his name.

The remaining $7 he paid to mom's sister who came up from Cuzco to take care of mom. Dad was flat broke. He told me about fear. He said he would lay awake at night, unable to sleep from worrying that he had brought a new life into this world and couldn't even put enough food on the table, so that Mom could eat and produce milk to breast feed the baby. He said it was awful. Abject fear.

They had a neighbor who let them milk their cow. They grew a garden. They had a grocer who sold groceries to them on credit.

Dad said he would search his pockets of the pants hanging in the closet to see if there was a dollar left and he would go into the basement and run his hands along the floor joists in hopes that some previous renter might have hidden some money. He would find none, BUT he said that the next day he would go through the same pockets and go to the basement and run his hands along the same rafters that had proven empty just the day before. He said it was an insane thing to do, but he could not keep from doing it just in case he might have missed something the day before.

Have you ever been that broke and desperate?

Well, Indiana's revenue forecast is down over by $1 billion and trust me, we would be running our hands along the rafters of the dome of the Statehouse in the same desperate act trying to find a buck somewhere, if this economy does what I think it is going to do.

In fact, if it hits, then that $1 billion will seem so small. But, at least it will keep us up and running for about a month, maybe two if we really stretched it.

Sooooo, if you are one of those people who thought we were foolish to keep the Rainy Day Fund and not spend it down, then I can't relate.

The Depression changed people. Dad and mom were never the same and that isn't so bad. They would not buy on credit. If they didn't have it, they didn't buy it. They saved.

And, when they died, I went to Dad's basement and there were stocks of canned food, light bulbs and paper towels. You name it, he had stocked it up.

I pity the legislator that will be in office if and when another depression hits. It is my humble opinion that the federal government cannot print the money it has printed without inflation ravaging us. If we experience 8 percent inflation over the next two years, our most recent budget will experience close to $2 billion loss in buying power.

Indiana did something that about 30 other states couldn't do. We increased money for education. We avoided a general tax increase to the citizens. We funded traditional programs like CHOICE, Medicaid, INDOT, Welfare, State Police, Higher Ed, Adult Ed and on and on.

As Teddy Roosevelt said, "We did the best we could with what we had when we had it."

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