My short break from this blog unexpectedly became a longer hiatus. In the last month I’ve changed jobs, changed sleeping schedules, ponied up to assist my wife in her Iron Girl training program – which I can tell you is MUCH harder than I ever thought it was, oh, and started reading A Song of Ice and Fire! Needless to say, I’ve had little free time on my hands!
While I’ve “been away” we’ve watched our “leaders” push this country to the brink of financial ruin. The Debt Ceiling debate, or circus act featuring only the clowns, dominated the news and, I admit, I felt an odd mix of anger, weariness, and resignation watching this charade play out. So much so, I couldn’t form a single coherent thought on the issue that didn’t contain angry epithets – predominantly directed at our Tea Party cousins and the tent they pretend to belong to – the Republican Party.
Many of my friends are conservatives and several identify with the Tea Party movement. Out of respect for them, I’ve tended to tread lightly on my criticism of their political views and affiliations. Despite my best efforts, I’ve been told, by them, that I’m hardly a “centrist” and basically just a liberal propagandist. This seems to sum up politics in America today.
The conservative right stakes out a position, extreme or not, and anyone who doesn’t see the sense in that position is a leftist. The left, if there really is a left, tends to start from a position of compromise (i.e., the center) and then attempts to engage in a rational process of negotiation that eventually would lead to a compromise. However, the right has changed the game plan – compromise is shameful and a sign of weakness. Hold fast to the position and never back off. If nothing gets passed in a gridlocked congress – all the better! Government is the root of all problems in America; therefore, the best government is a government that accomplishes nothing.
I find it queer that conservatives hate liberals – especially since I haven’t seen a liberal in a long time. I find that their disdain is usually just directed at anyone who doesn’t see the world through the same narrow prism they see it through.
While there might be a couple democrats in congress that would still advocate for increased government spending to stimulate the economy, by and large, nearly every member on both sides of the aisle are in agreement that government spending must be curtailed. Conservatives have absolutely no leg to stand on when they talk about tax and spend democrats – the Republican blueprint since the beginning of this century has been tax-cut, borrow and spend. Lowering taxes was supposed to be the panacea of economic growth – unshackling the creativity of the free market by putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy – I mean job creators. Well, we’ve had 10 years of the lowest tax rates since the Great Depression and our economy remains moribund. Unemployment is officially just under double-digits while real unemployment and real inflation continue to spiral upward. At what point on this continuum do true believers accept that this is a failed economic model?
Of course, true believers – by definition – can’t adjust perspective. Their view is the only view, right or wrong. New information that might otherwise be considered, weighed, and used to recalibrate opinion is normally dismissed as containing a “liberal” bias that does not compute in the conservative point of view.
Since I’ve been accused of being part of that liberal bias – I’d like to address the issue and look forward to hearing my conservative friends refute me.
Is it a liberal perspective that expects government to work efficiently? As a government employee, and a centrist, I’m appalled every time I read that tax payer funds are wasted or used inefficiently. I’m also cognizant enough to know that over 2/3’s of our budget is set aside for mandatory spending programs – chief among them, Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the debt. The remaining 1/3 and the area that we most often have to borrow for in order to fund are the discretionary spending items that fund the rest of government – things like the Defense Department, Veteran Affairs, Military salaries, etc.
In order to balance the budget – something our Republican friends want so badly to do (which by the way is not how private businesses work) – not only do significant spending cuts need to be made, but revenues will need to increase. Conservatives will immediately jump on this to say new taxation is not the answer, but the only other way revenues increase is to have significant job growth adding new tax payers to the rolls – we will not be seeing that level of job creation any time soon.
Is it a liberal perspective to want our government regulate industry and protect consumers and citizens from predatory business practices or environmental waste? I know the American memory is a short one, but the housing crisis and financial meltdown could have been averted altogether had we had healthy regulatory oversight of the financial industry. Americans (or anyone on this planet for that matter) shouldn’t have to worry that the food they serve their children is contaminated or that the water that comes out of the faucet is so polluted that it can actually catch on fire! Just as an aside – Fracking is quite possibly the most insidious evil unleashed on this planet. Next chance I get I want to address this issue in more depth. In the meantime, here’s a song…
But our Republican friends would love nothing more than to do away with regulatory oversight altogether. The Environmental Protection Agency is already gutted. Fracking was introduced as part of Dick Cheney’s energy policy specifically exempting it from regulatory oversight. And then we have Senator Mitch McConnell, spouting off today about how regulations are the reason the American economy can’t take flight. “Every meeting I’m in talks about the regulatory burden that we’re experiencing throughout the American economy — massive increases in regulation.” Says Mitch of no chin.
McConnell may indeed be chinless, but at least he has a pair of balls, and he and his comrades will be happy to show them off – unlike their democrat counterparts, who live to cave on every issue up for debate. A Facebook friend put up in his status this morning: “