We all complain about our broken government. Well, it is not really a broken government. It provides most of the services we have come to expect, very well. Our military is pretty reliable in protecting our country, even if we don’t always agree with all of their campaigns. The FBI is widely respected by most people. The CIA is very good at what they do: The worst problem with them seems to be the civilian leaders who appear to selectively skew the intelligence data for their political aims, invading Iraq for example. Although our interstate highway system needs bridge maintenance and updating, it still functions very well and the seemingly omnipresent orange barrels at many places along your route, are evidence of ongoing maintenance and improvements. Few seniors complain about Medicare and are really glad to have it. This public demands all these benefits and services, yet always has an unquenchable thirst for new and larger tax cuts;
The Social Security checks appear in bank accounts like clockwork. With the notable exception of ‘Katrina’, disaster relief is reasonably reliable. You younger folk may think that social security won’t be there for you, but experts tell us it is solvent until at least 2042 which is 32 years away. All this moaning about an ‘imminent’ Social Security crisis appears designed to advance the agenda of the proponents of privatizing Social Security. The deadline could easily be extended much beyond that with a minor adjustment, removing the cap which relieves high income taxpayers from paying the same percentage social security tax as low income taxpayers. At present, it is a regressive tax paid by those who can least afford it.
I guess what most people are saying is that congress is broken. They have passed a lot more legislation than most people remember but so far, have failed to pass the showpiece of the Obama presidency, healthcare for all.
Yes congress has many faults but the public is not without fault, in fact Jon Meacham, in Newsweek, calls them co-conspirators, and makes a very persuasive case for doing so.
It does seem that the public has a split personality and each side does not know what the other side wants or believes. The Republicans, by using the boogeyman called socialism, seem to have convinced the public that government is too big, too expensive and intrusive. But the public also wants fine roads and safe bridges, a military that is second to none, a clean and safe environment, safe and effective drugs, safe food, a safety net for retirement and many other services too numerous to list.
The services the public expects and demands cost money. The other side of the split personality will never accept a tax increase, and will oust from office a president who does that. In addition they want taxes reduced even further, while complaining about the deficits which are the inevitable result when the demand for services collides with tax cuts.
Historically, presidents have appealed to our patriotism and commonsense during a war and asked us to sacrifice, mostly by paying higher taxes. Instead, Bush used our credit card to borrow a trillion dollars from China to finance the Iraq war. To make the situation much worse, Bush lowered taxes, saying that we knew better how to spend our money than the government did. To add insult to injury he said that our service people would be expected to sacrifice and even give their lives, if necessary. Then he told the public, in essence, they didn’t need to sacrifice anything, just ‘go shopping’ and have fun.
This philosophy of never needing to sacrifice for worthwhile long term goals, is becoming deeply ingrained in our psyche.
The Republicans also espouse the theory that cutting taxes will always stimulate the economy to the extent that the increased taxes collected will more that offset the tax cut. While this might work in isolated instances, the implied objective, cutting taxes to zero, obviously would not work.
Jacob Weisberg writes in Newsweek that “the public lives in Candyland, where government can tackle the big problems and get out of the way at the same time. In this respect, the whole country is becoming more and more like California, where the state’s bonds have dropped to an A- rating (the same level as Libya’s) thanks to a referendum system that allows the people to be even more irresponsible than their elected representatives.” In July 2009, the New York Times reported that California was paying their bills with I.O.U.’s instead of checks.
Weisberg was referring to the direct democracy system in California called a referendum, which allows the public to pass restrictions on the state such as tax caps which don’t allow the state enough income to pay for the services demanded by the public. When the state’s credit rating equals that of a third world country, it is evident that the state is becoming ungovernable due to a referendum system that, as he says, “allows the people to be even more irresponsible than their elected representatives.”
The founding fathers were very wise in giving us a republic instead of a true democracy, which I do not believe would work.
I do not enjoy paying taxes, but they are a necessary fact of life. Until people cure their split personality and are willing to pay for the services they demand, we will continue to borrow the money from China and other countries to provide the services people demand. When our credit card is no longer accepted by other countries, the day of reckoning will have arrived!
Jacob Weisberg/”Down With the People”/Newsweek
Jon Meacham/”We are All Co-conspirators Now”/Newsweek
Jennifer Steinhauer/”Coffers Empty, California Pays with I.O.U.’s”/New York Times