"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." — Henry Adams, historian and teacher (1838-1918).

I offer the above quote because I like teachers, nothing more, nothing less.

I’m not quite as fond of politicians, but politicians, like teachers, also influence our culture as well as us individually. Collectively, they are the leaders that choose the path to take us down as a society. Perhaps that’s why this election, like most elections, are important and will steer our generation into the future, while paving the way for the next generation behind us.

I watched the Oct. 3 debate and agree with popular opinion that Mitt Romney had a better showing than President Obama. My opinion is that perhaps Obama underestimated Romney, as I did, and did not have a particularly good game plan himself.

He laid off his opponent and, in a boxer’s analogy, stood on his hind feet rather than attacking or going toe-to-toe with his opponent.

In my last column I wrote about the 3 percent millionaire’s tax and asked if anyone could explain to me why this is a bad idea. It did elicit a couple of thoughtful replies, but mostly to support my notion rather than to reject it or explain the logic from the other side.

One reader shared that he is taking a Coastal Senior College class entitled “New Economy for a Post-Oil World” with Paul Kando as the instructor. The reader shared with me that Kando gave the class a couple of questions to think about, which illustrates my quandary and perhaps might better illuminate my prior question.

The premise Kando put forth was: “Given that the main driver of modern (US) economy is consumption: How do tax breaks for the already-wealthy help economic recovery? and how do tax breaks for moderate-income folks help the recovery?

My grasping-at-straws response to question 1, is the notion that wealthy people will somehow start more companies if they are given tax breaks. I addressed in the last column by saying I would be in favor of specific tax breaks for buying machinery, adding workers to the work place, etc.

This has nothing to do with the consumption issue; millionaires have the means to consume and giving them more disposable income will not stimulate the economy the way the moderate-income folks can.

The other piece that completely baffles me is the facts. I do understand that most often facts have little to do with perceptions and perceptions are what drive voters and elections.

In the case of the debate, Obama did a horrible job of calling out his opponent on saying one thing at the debate and another on the campaign trail. To completely ignore Romney’s gaff of the 47 percent and the stir that caused and to weakly flail away at Romney’s lack of “specifics” when it comes to balancing the budget without raising taxes, Obama did nothing to bring to light the reality that Romney has laid out as his initiatives or what Romney is rooted in as a philosophy. The “real” Romney is the guy who believes that 47 percent of Americans are happily on the dole and wants government to take care of them.

That aside, I can only wonder why, when talking about the economy, simple little benchmarks aren’t used.

For instance, when the current administration came into office the stock market was still in free fall and the Dow hit a low of about 6,600 about 60 days into this presidency. Today, less than 4 years later, the Dow is more than doubled. That is simple fact; with simple fact comes the simple conclusion that both middle class and wealthy investors are better off. They aren’t as worried about their IRAs or retirement years and, the fact is, the stock market has stabilized under Obama.

Second is unemployment; the rate just fell to 7.8 percent. When the current administration started, the rate was rising and hit 10 percent in October 2009. Given the state of the economy and the amount of time necessary for the stimulus' put in place to begin to show some effect, my conclusion is that a 2.2 percent drop in unemployment is impressive so I am not so sure I understand the current mantra that “we must get America back to work” and the charge of “failed policies."

The auto industry is thriving and the real estate markets are beginning to pick up again; the numbers all show that as fact.

I could see some arguments and criticisms on the debt taken on to get the economy working again and how the government continues to spend money. However, the broad statements of “failed economic” policies just doesn’t make sense to me unless you think the stock market should have seen gains of more than 100 percent or see the slowly-declining unemployment trend of the last 24 months as failed policy.

To the pragmatic self I say; you don’t get into a mess overnight and you don’t drag yourself out of one that quickly either. It is the failed policies of the early 2000s, coupled with greed and criminal behavior, that got us into the mess and it seems to me that we are slowly making progress every month to dig our way out.

Common sense is what will get us out of the mess we are in. I have an associate who creates a great analogy when he says; “Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered." The idea in this message is that we need to consume and continue on the path capitalism lays out for us. However, society has seen, over and over in cyclical fashion, that greed will derail us every time.

Not only do we have to worry about greed in our society, we must also think in terms of absolute. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. To share the power is not socialism, it is good business.

Finally, and to my point, creating a strong and viable middle class is the key to capitalism if you believe in the notion that Kando put forth, that end-of-line consumption is the driving force to a vibrant economy; in this I believe.

Please email me at reade@freepressonline.com and enlighten me.

Reade Brower, a longtime local resident, is owner of The Free Press and Courier Publications LLC.