By GREG STILES

By GREG STILES


Everyone, from the artisans of high finance to the lowliest of the 401(k) holders, is seeking bailout help or relief from the government.

The problem is the government is in even deeper trouble, with the national debt at an all-time high.

What got the richest nation the world has ever known in this kind of mess?

Rogue Community College educators hope to shed some light on the matter in a simple way Saturday night.

"How to Survive a Recession" will reveal the thinking that allowed the country to fall into an $11 trillion deficit, how it affects people's daily lives and strategies for coping in such times. The centerpiece of the discussion will be a showing of the documentary "I.O.U.S.A."

The event developed as a faculty response when several RCC instructors began fielding questions and class discussions about the general economy while Congress was discussing the $700 billion bailout.

Joe Spurgeon, Dale Prohaska and Kenton Gould decided they could widen the discussion to the community at large.

They'll tackle the issue through film and panel discussion at the new downtown RCC/SOU Higher Education Center. Roger Cantwell, economics instructor and a former banker, and Michael Torgeson, an economics and political science instructor, will be on the panel along with local politicians.

"During the last 40 years, the federal government hasn't run a balanced budget," Spurgeon says.

"So you look at the federal government and we don't have a very good example on balancing our own budgets. One of the problems facing taxpayers and citizens is that we've asked the government to do things and then are not willing to pay for it. Do you want your taxes raised? The answer is almost always no. Then do you want your services cut? We don't want that either."

Part of the answer, argues Spurgeon, is learning to make hard choices and developing discipline.

"The issue is instant gratification, whether we're 4-year-olds, newly married or the government," Spurgeon says. "We don't want to wait and we don't want to pay for it. I'm not sure where it started, but I think that's the mind-set of a lot of people."

Whether it's an individual or government, you can't spend more money than you bring in.

"No matter what, you need to live beneath your means," Spurgeon says. "If you're making $20,000 per year, you need to make sure you're not spending $20,000, you need to be spending $19,000. If not, you're not going to survive tough economic times."

A case in point, says the 38-year-old financial adviser and writing instructor, arose when students began questioning the high cost of textbooks.

"I drive a 1995 Ford Escort with 125,000 miles that smells because my 6-year-old daughter has thrown up in it a few times," Spurgeon says. "I'm sure I made more money than any of the students, but nobody drove something (that cost) less money than what I was driving. You can get into all sorts of debates as to what's a necessity."

Spurgeon is a member of the Concord Coalition, a society that promotes a balanced federal budget.

He hopes people will not only come away determined to put their own finances in order, but to urge Congress to do the same.

"Whether it's writing or calling Congress or getting other people informed," Spurgeon says. "I think people will want to do something with the information they learn."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.