Yesterday, on my way home I struck up a conversation with an Uber driver.  Being a foreigner here in Medellin Colombia, I was curious as to the opinion of a local regarding the protests that happened yesterday regarding a proposal by the president to increase taxes at a time when the economy isn’t doing well.

Her opinion was similar to others i’ve spoken to, she’s against more taxes, especially at this time.  I can understand her concern, however in leadership roles, I am aware of the tradeoffs that must often be made for the long term good.

In the near term, the idea to increase taxes now sounded like a mistake.  However, rather than the instinctive reaction of passing judgement, question the reason for the unpopular proposal.  Why, as a politician whose value is often based on their popularity, would he do it?

Having investigated, the extra revenue would be for programs to support the vulnerable/poor, make more investments in public infrastructure, and to add more credibility to the country’s debt ridden finances.  Most countries borrow money, however the interest rate at which the county borrows is based now on how stable their economy and financial balance sheet looks.  

International financiers like banks charge a higher rate to lend money to riskier nations.  In an attempt to appease the lenders and keep their interests costs low, the leadership might need to make hard decisions, or at least show that they are willing to make them to lower risk.  

I tried to explain this viewpoint to the uber driver, but I wasn’t getting through.  So, I tried using a metaphor she might appreciate.   She told me she had a daughter, so i painted a picture.  I told her to imagine that her daughter was borrowing money from her, and spending it on her things and not saving it, only asking for more money each day.  The mother, seeing that her money was not coming back, but the debt was only growing.  If she told her daughter no more money until she either slowed down in spending or got a job, how would her daughter feel?  

Her daughter would be upset, but the more experienced mother would understand the decision and why it had to be made.  The key would be to explain in a way that the daughter would understand the decision.  She might even agree and voluntarily choose to be more responsible on her own.

In the case of the government decision, it’s a bit more complicated and takes an active mind to investigate and discover the reason.  Why does that not happen?  Because most people get their information from friends and family, rather than impartial news sources,  Many news agencies make money by selling newspapers that have headlines which grab attention and stories that people want to read.

So, the key is once we’ve all heard before.  Do not believe everything you hear or read, instead do the research before having a reaction opinion on a topic.

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