Conversations With A Mad Man


"Super" Committee - Really?

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on November 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM

“Super” Committee – Really?

Surprise, surprise the Super Committee created by Congress and the Senate to reach a deficit reduction plan, has failed to reach agreement and put forth a plan.  And as the game blame is in full swing, the bottom line is that they failed, as did Congress as a whole, to get to a deal, any deal. The pitiful fact is that we, the American people, would be delighted to see any plan or proposal for us to look at.  Guess it was too much to ask for and that fact simply accounts for the dismal approval rating congress has.

If this does not compute to you, dear reader, it is because it simply does not.  After ten years of tax cuts, we are in the midst of a grave recession, and a good 25-40 million Americans are looking for a job or a full time job and are unable to find one (I know since I am part of that group and have been daily looking for over a year). 

Lets not forget that after Congress decided to create this committee, the President sent them his deficit cutting plan, that included revenue increases–God forbid (lets also not forget that although Republicans are refusing to raise taxes, they actually are raising them by refusing to extend the payroll tax holiday).

The public, on the other hand, has spoken very clearly.  Raise the top tax bracket and close tax loopholes and make sure those of very large means–be it individuals o rcorporations–pay their fare share of taxes.  It is also important for some in congress to understand that pledges–especially idiotic ones like the Grover Norquist one­–are not binding and best reserved for fraternities and sororities.  Grow up and realize that your duty as a representative is to represent the best interests of the American population and not wealthy donors and Washington lobbyists.

And the best interests of America, country and public, is a prosperous economy, people working and building lives producing goods and services we then market around the world. To get there we need to fix education (takes $), fix infrastructure–physical and virtual–(takes $), invest in R&D (takes $), and provide a springboard for people to get within a reasonable distance of the “American dream”. This requires a partnership between government and private interests and an adult mature understanding of economic and social forces, something currently in very low supply in our capital and our culture. 

The big issue here is lack of participation.  People take their tax cuts and stay home.  We send other people’s children to die in made up wars that benefit large corporations and the military industrial complex and borrow money to pay for them.  And as our economy spiraled out of control, mainly due to Wall Street paper pushers, who while neither supervised nor regulated, played fraternity games with people’s life savings and lost them and then went on their merry way with no accountability or consequence.

Being a citizen of a country–especially a democratic one like ours–carries with it a grave responsibility.  That responsibility is one of participation in the political process, joint sacrifice in the bad times and fairly sharing in the prosperity in the good times based on opportunity and hard work.  Accountability and consequences are a critical part of the process as well as full participation by all, burden as well as rewards.

Critical part of the democratic ingredients is peaceful protest.  The Tea Party movement, the Occupy movement are both part of that democratic process with a big difference.  The tea party is the brainchild of the right wing billionaires, the Koch brothers, while the Occupy movement is a middle class and student popular protest movement fed up with the control of the wealthy over our power structure in Washington DC, as well as, their confiscation of most of the wealth while refusing to share in the tax obligation.  While clearly in favor of the latter, both are part of our political democratic process and should be allowed to prosper or fail based on their merits

The images from UC Davis campus of peaceful studentde monstrators being pepper sprayed by Campus Police nonchalantly walking back and forth over the sitting students while spray flooding them with military grade pepper spray for no rime or reason, are very disturbing.

Most telling is the reaction by the republican presidential hopefuls.  The current weekly flavor–Newt Gingrich–“Get a job after you take a bath” ("Clearly" in touch with the reality of 40 million Americans) and his solution for income disparity “Get rid of all union janitors in schools in the poor areas and have students perform these duties for payment”( Did you ever hear of child labor laws Newt?).  If this is the great intellect the right has to offer, we are in serious trouble in this country. We are facing great and grave problems and the solutions are complex and difficult and require leadership, wisdom and sacrifice.  Wisdom is what is needed most and not demagoguery, fear and meanness, and that my friends is in very short supply indeed.  What we hear is “Lead not read” (courtesy of the Simpsons and Herman Cain) and the rebirth of the George W. Bush philosophy that the American President does not have to be smart or well informed cause ”he has advisors and experts for that”.  What is being missed here–due to intellectual deficiencies–is that a President needs to be very smart to lead and to be able to navigate the waters of domestic and international affairs as well as be able to choose the right advisors and accept the wise advice while rejecting the not-so-wise advice.

The clear silver lining here is the fact that people of all ages and walks of life are getting involved and they are changing the national discourse to the urgent issues of economy, infrastructure, education, healthcare and ending the wars. This is what free speach, freedom of assembly and democracy are all about.  And to Newt, the parks and public facilities being used for protests are part of public property we all pay for, and as long as they are used in peaceful protest, they are being used appropriately, strengthenin our democracy and country.

Clearly the established power structure is overreacting, as they always do, to challenges to their supremacy and authority. That is a good sign since it means that the protests are working and change is here.  Unfortunatel, due to our broken system of politics and governance in the congress, meaningful or any forward movement will have to wait till 2012.


Categories: Age of Rudeness & Mediocrity

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