Democracy to the Rescue


Democracy to the Rescue

  They - those people up in Washington, D.C. - did what I suggested last month. “Just gitt’er done.” They did. It wasn’t pretty. Neither side was real happy. In fact, it appears no one was really happy. They raised the debt ceiling so that it now equals the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. That’s 100 per cent that shouldn’t be above 70 per cent and was, thirty years ago at about 30 per cent.

  So, we can pay our bills even if we are living off our credit cards. You know how it goes. Keep using the card until the minimum payment (interest plus a bit of the principal) gobbles up all the income. Not doing anything would have risked defaulting on our debt, a lowered world credit rating (higher interest to reflect the risk), and would have destabilized the market.

  Surprise. That all happened anyway. We raised the limit and the bond rating companies said that’s fine, but we’re a bad risk anyway. And, the stock markets took a big dive. That raises the question whether any one up there really knows anything or can be believed on anything. After all, the brightest economic minds in the world all missed the housing bubble. (could it be that they were all grabbing a piece of the pie?).

  Supposedly, everything will all be hunky dory once a special congressional committee readdresses the spending problems. If they don’t, spending cuts in areas no one likes will automatically take place. Do I sound pessimistic? Could be, though normally I’m an optimist.

  Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma commented that the debt ceiling agreement “eliminates no programs, consolidates no duplicative programs, cuts no tax earmarks and reforms no entitlement program”. President Obama simply commented that we need tax reform. The rich and the corporations should pay more. Problem solved.

  Not really. Like the ever expanding and faster expanding universe, federal government spending and influence rolls onward and upward and outward. Each of the thousands of programs expand to include more people at higher levels of income, new programs spin off of old ones, regulations require more and more of our resources and, in themselves, create more expanding government intrusion. And, there are more programs in the wings ready to pass out more money to more people. We all hope we’re one of them. That’s what keeps the whole thing going.

  Over 600 new regulations were added in July alone covering financial, environmental and health issues and there are more to come. Each will have its price tag either requiring resources of those being regulated or expanding of the government bureaucracy or both. We seem to have regulations on the regulations when the real problem is that we don’t apply or enforce the regulations we already have. Revisit the housing crash for examples.

  Perhaps the only positive thing we have going for us is a vigorous, participatory democracy. That’s right. All this disagreeable squabbling is good. Uncomfortable, but good. Dictatorships are usually simpler, more direct, and sometimes more efficient. Particularly when they start killing people.

  The Tea Partiers may have messed up the parade a bit, and they (whoever “they” is) might not all be focusing on the same things, but at least we have a debate going. Ask yourself whether, without the Tea Party movement, would questioning the national debt and government spending even be on the agenda?

  I’m pessimistic, but there’s hope.


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