Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Right is Wrong and the Left is Not Right, Part 2



It seems hard to believe that a few of you haven’t decided how to vote tomorrow --    2% according to Rasmussen Polls.  Perhaps your indecisiveness is from the queasy feeling you get when you really think about what Democrats and Republicans have to offer.

Whether it’s the Federal budget, the role of government or social policy, hypocrisy abounds.  Here are just a few of my favorite examples.

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One could spend lots of time debating the merits of various government programs.  But, our fiscal mess isn’t about Big Bird; it’s about entitlement and tax reform.  Yet, Democrats steadfastly refuse to consider entitlement reform and Republicans will not consider any increase in taxes.  A number of bi-partisan groups – including the President’s own commission (Simpson-Bowles) – have concluded that we must do both. 

The commission recommends entitlement reforms that include reducing benefits to upper income recipients and indexing the eligibility age to life expectancy.   Without it, they say, Social Security will go broke by 2037.  Among its other recommendations is the elimination or dramatic reduction of “tax expenditures”.  In plain English, they are saying that one can’t balance the budget without getting rid of or capping deductions that affect the middle class.   In other words, you can’t preserve entitlements without raising taxes and the idea that tax increases sufficient to reduce the deficit won’t touch the middle class is absurd. 

Yet, both presidential candidates have promised the middle class they will not see a tax increase. 

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Among my favorite contradictions is the way in which our political leaders approach the goal of reducing carbon emissions.  The 2009 Obama stimulus includes programs that invest in private green technology companies.  Anyone who is paying attention knows that at least two of them – Solyndra and A123 – have gone bankrupt following a combined government investment of over $700 Million. 

Senator Chuck Grassley has been among the most vocal of critics.  Taxpayer money should not be invested in businesses that can’t attract private money because they are financially unviable, says Grassley.  Now, assets of those companies are being picked over by Chinese businesses.  In effect, the assets purchased by the taxpayers will be acquired at a discount creating green jobs in China. 

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA)
But, Grassley is a Republican from Iowa, where every presidential candidate is compelled to take the "Ethanol Pledge" or risk a poor showing in the Iowa Caucuses.  You see, Iowa produces more corn that any state in the nation.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was supported by Grassley, requires that gasoline sold in this country include 15 Billion gallons of ethanol from corn by 2015.  Never mind that Ethanol requires more energy to produce than it, in turn, produces.  Or that the law is driving up the cost of food during our current drought.  It helps farmers in Grassley’s home state.

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There is an old saw about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions.  Everyone likes being charitable.  Everyone likes to help others.  Many even see government as a solution to the need to provide for those less fortunate. 

But, when we look around us all we see is government going broke trying.  Exhibit A is the state of Illinois.  Promised pension and healthcare benefits to government employees have left the state with the second highest debt per capita (behind New York).  The State Budget Crisis Task Force concluded that despite all that borrowing, Illinois’ public pension system’s shortfall is estimated at $85 billion. So, how can government improve schools, upgrade crumbling infrastructure and improve the lives of the poor?  The deficit is hurting the people that liberals hope to help.

Over the years, voters haven’t been willing to pay higher taxes to fund the programs they say they want.  But, if no one wants to pay for it, do they really want it?  And, if they don’t really want it, shouldn’t our political leaders stop approving it?

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Conservatives like to talk about freedom.  They refer to the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” asserted in the Declaration of Independence.  So, why doesn’t that right extend to those who disagree with the minority of Americans who describe themselves as evangelical Christians? 

The Republican Party caters to xenophobes and homophobes.  And the debate over a woman’s right to reproductive choice has elicited some of the most offensive comments about rape that I have heard since the 1970’s.  Does Todd Akin really believe that “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”?  He was talking about pregnancies.  Where did this guy study biology?  And, what exactly is a legitimate rape?

I am an old white guy.  So, the social policies of Republicans don't affect me directly.  But one must wonder.  Will there be enough old white guys left in America to elect Republicans in the future?

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Democrats undermine their credibility when they can’t pay for the programs they invent.  And, Republicans undermine their credibility when they preach freedom but seek to limit it for those with whom they disagree.

It’s no wonder you’re undecided.

WHO WILL LEAD?

15 comments:

  1. Robert Spencer • Another great article, John!

    It's sad you don't have to dig deep to cover how bad of a pickle we are in. You talk about Illinois being bad but I live in the worst state New York. Ouch!

    Hopefully, tomorrow will bring us some change we can afford.

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  2. JAMES (DAVE) DRISKELL • When you get down to it, we are all a bunch of hypocrites.

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  3. Brian Vanyo • Agree that hypocrisy prevails. Here are my thoughts on one glaring example: http://brianvanyo.com/barack-obama-so-unbelievable/

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  4. Ken Mayeaux • Can a "Leader" be classified or even hold the title of Leader when they choose to foster a "class warfare" mentality amongst those that they were charged to lead? For me, the short answer is NO!

    We as a nation of individuals will never all look at an issue and see it the same way. This country is a melting pot with a lot more melting that needs to be done before we ever get close to "hominization". Our backgrounds, values, and teachings give us a very unique prism through which we view the various political, social, moral and ethical issues of this great nation. Those biases may be tamped downed or they may be inflamed by the rhetoric of the Leader of our country.

    From what I have seen, over the last four years, the leader of our nation has through his rhetoric and his actions tried to divide and conquer by his "class warfare" style of leader ship. If there are two sides to some issue, he has continually pitted the two sides against one another to support whatever potential outcome best served his agenda. Is that wrong? I am not sure you can say it's wrong, but then again I am pretty sure that at the end of the day it does very little to unite our nation and a nation divided is surely not as strong as one united. The effects of that theory are being played out in the unemployment and welfare lines which continue to grow.

    One thing I am definitely sure of, this election has been one of division. We as a nation or more divided right now than we have ever been, since perhaps the Civil War. Whatever the outcome of the election, the Leader sitting in the Oval Office will have to deal with that in the next four years. So if John's premise is correct, that "The Right is Wrong and the Left is Not Right" and that premise cannot be altered and the Right and Left cannot be aligned by what is good for the nation; then there will be no Leadership, only a journey on the road to a Totalitarian style of government.

    John, I pray that this is not going to be a continuing series my friend.

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  5. Phillip Parker • We should start by acknowledging that class warfare is real. The upper class has been waging it on the lower and middle classes for decades, if not throughout all history. As with school yard bullies, nothing outrages them more than when the victim tries to fight back.

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  6. Martin Migliori • John, Very well put. A few points really hit home, but I think they might be lost in the translation. I normally see people who have one agenda and everything else just doesn't matter. Let me explain, I am on our local school board. Out of the nine members, I believe there may be only two of us that don't have a real agenda that consists of one or two personal grudges. We have one member who wants to cut everything that is not a classroom activity (they home school their child), one who has it out for maintenance, one who's only interest is special education, one who is only interested in the art program, one that is focused on sports, one whose sole interest is to make sure the teachers are taken care of, one who wants power, and one who only wants to play with the budget because they think they can 'hide' money to keep their administrator friends out of hot water. I have spent more time arguing over a coach or display case than I have about the actual education of our students. Which brings me back to what I was saying. As I argue the case for sanity, the points are clear but the listeners only hear what they want to hear. This cross section on the board mimics society and our leaders. Until we have enough leaders in legislative and the executive branches to put aside their own grudges and do what is right for the country, we will continue on the path of destruction. Go back to the old saying give a man a fish and they eat for a day, teach a man to fish and they eat for a lifetime. Our country needs to go back to our foundation when we gave people fish until they learned how to fish on their own. It has to start with leadership at the top and follow all the way to the bottom. Good Blog.

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  7. Martin, there's a blog of your own in your summary. Clearly, you're experiencing a microcosm of our national experience. The difference, I believe is that the "moderates" get voted out when their is a change of power in the Congress so the senior folks are now those that represent the extremes of the parties and who run the committees and the national agenda.

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  8. Ray Wach • Phillip Parker, I have to disagree, class warfare is not real, at least not today in the US. Our wealthiest people come from three groups: entertainers, inheritors, and successful business men. The first two groups are the majority of the wealthy, and are not at warfare with poor people, at least not consciously. The third group generally knows that they get wealthy by making other people successful. Men like Gates, Jobs, Zuckerman, Iacoca, and so on do not get richer by gouging their customers or cutting the wages of their workers (even though those things happen sometimes), they get richer by finding more happy customers and hiring more workers.

    Of course, there are times when a rich man can get richer by making a poor man poorer, but in the US today those are very exceptional times. Most rich men get richer by helping other men to get richer. That doesn't mean our policies should do everything to help the rich, but neither should we think something is bad just because it doesn't burden the rich.

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  9. Phillip Parker • I have the Oracle of Omaha on my side:

    "It IS class warfare. And my class is winning" - Warren Buffet

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  10. Ray Wach • Well, I won't argue with that, only smile as Buffet intended us to do.

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  11. Phillip Parker • If you think Buffet meant that as some sort of triumphal joke, here's another one:

    The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.
    Warren Buffett

    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/warrenbuff413413.html#VmovjIcW2t6LxEBm.99

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  12. Vincent Ryan • I hear you, but which candidate is going to revitalize the economy? Does either presidential candidate have the ability to do that?

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  13. There's no short term fix for the economy which is hampered, IMHO, by structural problems. No matter who wins today, there will be a gradual improvement next year with slow growth and gradual improvement in unemployment.

    The structural issues are tougher to resolve: education, healthcare, immigration, fiscal deficits, the national debt and the Fed's balance sheet. I haven't heard much from the candidates about any of those issues.

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  14. Karen VanAssche • John, please make sure you revisit this in a few years.

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  15. Karen, I must now that you have asked me so nicely. I am going to sit back and watch for a while. The next 6 months will tell us a lot about the next four years.

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