What is it about our society, and in particular our politics, that stifles the basic question/answer process? Questions and answers, causes and effects, problems and solutions; these constructs should not be difficult. But we Americans have divorced ourselves from these fundamentals. As a society, we have adopted the communication tactics formerly employed by teenagers.
A problem, in the teenage mind, is not a problem unless they might perceive a direct and immediate personal effect. A problem, for teenagers, that is not perceived as having direct or immediate effect, is valuable only in its ability to present opportunities for positive personal effect. A question, asked of a teenager, is meant to be answered directly only when the direct answer benefits the teenager directly and immediately. In the third century of American politics, it is the teenager’s self-absorbed, time-constrained perspective that dictates the conversation.
This is what Americans believe is important:
According to voters, jobs and the economy are the critical issues facing our democracy. According to voters, the deficit is no more a problem or focus for them now than it was in 2008. And according to the majority of the macroeconomic profession, the deficit is neither a cause of the economic problems and unemployment nor a more pressing short term threat than joblessness itself. So what does our supposedly mainstream media focus on?
The deficit, of course.
And what is the cause of the deficit?
- Lower marginal tax rates
- Dramatic increases in defense spending
- Reduced tax revenue due to job loss
- Increased, automatic safety-net spending due to job loss
- Dramatic, generational cost acceleration in the medical marketplace
So what is the consistent, relentless plan of so-called deficit hawks to address the deficit (which remember, is not the real problem)?
- Take marginal tax rates even lower
- Keep defense spending at the same level
- Eliminate government jobs and the derived demand that government jobs provide the private sector
- Pay lip-service to cost-containment by eliminating safety-net spending that is both more valuable to the economy and less expensive on a per unit basis than defense spending
- Belittle, obstruct, obfuscate, and otherwise hamstring any and all attempts to fix the issue of medical cost acceleration that don’t involve pretending the problem will disappear when government health programs are privatized
I would ask why Americans are so bad at asking the correct questions, but in fairness, they aren’t. In November, by a 51%-47% margin, Americans expressed their will that President Obama’s plan to slowly reduce defense spending, raise marginal tax rates on upper income levels, and enact reforms in government health care spending that don’t involve access-limitation, is the plan we should move forward with. In the same election, Americans increased the influence of Democrats in the Senate, and voted as a majority for Democrats running for the House.
There can be no question what the will of the people is (and yes, African-Americans and Hispanics are allowed the same voting power as white folks). The aforementioned results came in an election where 2008’s undeserved boogieman, ACORN, did not exist. The results came from swing states where the voting, and the rules that governed the process, was firmly controlled by Republican governors and legislatures (Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Nevada, I am writing about you.)
The Rational Middle thinks that the whining (I am sorry, but that is the appropriate term) must stop. The United States of America was founded as a democratic republic, and the majority has spoken…again. If you claim to be a patriot, if you claim to love your nation, then put aside the ridiculous and increasingly disturbed claims and contentions, and accept the reality of democracy.
The Rational Middle is listening…