It's a Friday morning and I'm driving back to the office following another depressing sales call on another depressed business owner who, in 2005 employed more than 100 employees and is now down to around 20. As is the case in these economic times, the conversation turned to politics and the realities of proposed tax increases. This "wealthy" individual, who hasn't taken a personal paycheck in months and has drained his savings in order to keep his business afloat, has, through his filing status, fallen into the earning class that is currently being demonized by the White House and our liberal leaders. In addition, his health insurance premium increases will most likely lead to the dismissal of at least one more of his now skeleton crew.

I have the satellite radio tuned into a news station (I suppose I'm a glutton for punishment) and President Obama is yet again in front of a microphone. His daily dose begins with the shocking notification that the median income in America has dropped 5 percent since 2001, marking this decade an economic catastrophe of monumental proportions. It doesn't seem to me, however, that our current state of despair has lasted 10 years, the decline seems more recent.

As I drive through Ahwatukee, listening to this newest deflection, I am struck by the emptiness of the parking lot at Mountain Pointe. Four years ago, our kids had to get on a waiting list as the demand for a parking space was much greater than the supply. This morning, I see more people than I have ever seen standing at bus stops, waiting for public transportation. I drive past several shopping centers with "Space for Lease" signs, remembering the bustling parking lots and thriving businesses from just a few years ago. As I drive through my neighborhood, I remember a time, just four years ago, when there were worker's trucks everywhere, indicative of ongoing home improvement projects. Now there are foreclosure signs, no work trucks and a house or two that could really use a fresh coat of paint.

A few quick mouse clicks when I returned to the office has shown me a completely different picture than the one that was just painted by our president. Through Wikipedia and archived U.S. Census documents, I have found that when running the same scenario for the 2001 to 2006 time frame, the median income had gone up from $42,900 in 2001 to $48,201 in 2006, or an increase of 12.3 percent. In addition, the two-year average for 2004 and 2005 was $46,071, illustrating that we were continuing to increase annually.

What changed? Why are we now down 3.8 percent from 2006 and down 5 percent from 2001? Obama, the media and the liberal lemmings would all have us believe that George W. Bush is the root of all our evils, however, more than five years into his presidency we were still on an upward trend. The biggest change seems to have come in 2006. In Ahwatukee, our congressional representation changed. On a national level, Democratic majorities were established in both the House and Senate. In 2008, blind faith and misinformation propelled voters to believe in "change" although few could describe in much detail just what change they were really looking for. In the last year, our sales tax rate has increased to a staggering 9.3 percent. We now pay a 2 percent tax on food items. Our homeowners association dues are expected to rise. Health insurance premiums have markedly increased. And the Arizona state income tax withheld from payroll went up. Is this the "change" we are supposed to believe in?

Substantive change is greatly needed now.

Michelle Hansen

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