Our worst option: all or nothing.
I wonder about the binary nature of out politics, or the “all or nothing” “winner takes all” attitudes – we have such a limited menu to choose from. We had – and probably will in 4 years too – the choice between two men who want to run the same show. A tired show, one with little audience left. I’d say when more than ½ the people didn’t bother to vote they’ve either grown to accept the nonsense, or are so downtrodden that they can’t see a way out of the morass.
We had/have two guys who want to maintain pretty much everything as status quo. I liken it to two men wanting to repair, restore and redecorate the same old house that needs a bit of TLC – and what one man wants is to paint the trim green, but leave everything else alone, and other other wants to paint the bathrooms yellow, but leave everything else the same – and then each blames the other for some lapse in judgment, even nefariously so – “you don’t want to paint the trim!” – “you’re changing the bathrooms!” while the other man says the opposite. Of what use is this “keep it all the same, except a few tiny things” when it’s obvious that a complete make over is necessary? The plumbing is from the 1930s for heaven’s sake, and the trim has been falling off for decades. Who doesn’t upgrade their homes from time to time? Our nation is our home, and we have to keep it exactly as it was on the day FDR died, and merely add more and more geegaws to the plumbing and electric systems he installed? Egad, rip out the lead pipes and put in some PVC, rip out the few old greened-copper wires and put in some fresh stuff and a 220 Volt line while your at it. Don’t forget to increase the number of outlets. No, we shan’t touch a thing, lest one abandons the populace to think and do for themselves. The horrors.
Social Security is broke – on an actuarial basis it just can’t work – the model is just not sufficient for our times. Yet, when I say we need to change Social Security – right away I’m accused of either wishing to abolish it all or give the whole system over to the Wall Street bankers. And this accusation comes merely when I say: “the math won’t work in our current ways.” So, yes, the system needs changing – and indeed – it will change for the worse if we keep this up. So then, if we recognize the ultimate looming failure of the system, then we must examine change, yes? And if you vote for a man who says he’s for “change” – what exactly is he changing? Oh, taxing the rich isn’t going to cover Social Security’s costs – it may forestall the day of reckoning a few months, years even – and then, right back to the same problem. Means testing (i.e., taking away the promised benefits from the wealthier payees to provide more cash for the crashing system’s poorer payees,) won’t do much more than forestall the end either.
Why not just require each American to keep a passbook savings account in the local bank of their choice that puts 10% of their pay away for the entirety of their working lives, which they can’t touch until they’re 60 or 65, and they can keep their money and the interest, and live without worrying if their check will come on time – the money will be there. And we’ll eliminate all the bureaucrats who like to create new forms and delays.
Indeed, back in Ronald Reagan’s day Social Security was known to be doomed by math – and all the tinkering did was move the day of reckoning to today – but there’s not much wiggle room left for tinkering because the system is like a balloon stretched taut – it’s going to pop. And so some creep somewhere says this or that – there’s many proposals that are bandied about – and immediately most everyone I meet says I must be for these other plans – some I probably never heard of – most I never examined – because well, if I’m not for the Democratic plan I must perforce be for the Republican plan. Why? Oh, it’s said – that’s our two choices. Well, see then – that’s my complaint – there’s only two choices. I know of no other endeavor in life where there is only two choices at the very outset of a decision – except government.
Well, no, there are many other ways to achieve the same goals other than what the politicians are offering. Indeed, it’s the politicians who don’t like giving many choices to the electorate, lest the politicians lose their grip on their seats. How safe it is to say, as they all seem to do, that they are both for change and keeping everything exactly as it is. Yes, they will change the system for a better America they say, and protect every single jot and tittle that exists today – for it was good before. So what if a chair was bought 70 years ago, and the legs are now wobbly, the seat cracked, the spats missing – it’s the chair we’ve always had! How can you be against our chair? You anti-chair sitting or something? It’s absurd the logic used by politicians and their most fervent supporters.
Those supporters are obvious – they are the ones who croon for Obama or rally for Romney – they are the ones with such emotional investment in one man that they cry and gnash teeth when the other one wins – because one wants to paint green trim, and the other yellow bathrooms – and the whole foundation needs a going over. To get emotionally involved in the hubris of politicians seems like such a waste of life – unless of course, you wish to work for that politician – for the money is good. Not for nothing are the 10 richest counties those that line the DC Beltway. Not for nothing does every group and organization now require an office in the Beltway. Not for nothing will the security needs of that enclave have to be made stronger as a castle upon the hill – for it is becoming royalty without ermine.
Oh, look at the Department of Commerce – as in the title of the thing. Say you want to get rid of the Dept of Commerce and right away you are against weather satellites or something. I don’t get it – how come I can’t be for weather information and against using the DoC to funnel billions from one group of citizens to another in the vain hope of “government investment.” I’m against the government giving person A’s money to person B merely because B has convinced Congress that they know best how to use the money. Worse still, B and Congress often say that A is using the money wrongly – that it should be taken away to help society as a whole, and help A whether he recognizes or admits he needs help at all. To be against the help and all of a sudden he’s a Luddite out to destroy the Republic.
And because the bunch at Commerce are in the help B by screwing A business AND weather satellites, doesn’t mean because I want to get rid of the former I want to get rid of the latter. Yes, I’d prefer to keep the weather and get rid of the “investments” (oh, they’re just forced loans, or transfers under gun point, or involuntary wealth extractions for the good of all – call it what you wish – it’s the concept not the terms that bug me.)
So why can’t we keep a Department of Weather Information – and get rid of the Department of Government Investment – which are both in the Department of Commerce? Well, yes, I’d like to really parse the issue – but everyone gets bogged down in the names of the Departments and don’t even know the sub-parts, the Byzantine levels of agencies and bureaus within departments. Department wise we have just a handful to work with – and each might be doing 10 or 20 things. And so I’m for only say, 5 things out of 15 that any Department might do – and thus, if I had my druthers – I could cut the Departments by 2/3rds, and still get what I want. But say you’re against any part of the department and you must be against it all! So we keep it all, and decline.
Look too, at say, Libya or Syria – supposedly the choice is now just when we’ll intervene, not whether it’s a good idea. To do what we don’t even know – - to support and build Democracy or something. For people who couldn’t do the process if they tried – they are so far from Democracy or Civil Society that it’s laughable that anyone thinks they’ll go from being craven dictatorships to the New Hampshire primaries of American lore. I expect that in a bar, that sort of talk – but from politicians? It’s disturbing.
Now supposedly we’ll go into Syria, perhaps – when the thing to do is just blast Mr. Assad to kingdom come, and let the remaining Syrians figure out who will be the next strong man. There will be no peace there if we “monitor” or put in “peace keepers” – for that society is intent on fighting it out. Intervene and we will be the punching bag. Support one side or the other and the other will hate us forever.
Supposedly, too, we have to preserve the “integrity” and the “sovereignty” of Iraq – or Afghanistan – places who’s lines are so new that American Manifest Destiny was finished before they came along. Arizona became a state before Iraq became a “nation” – let the thing fracture. Who cares? We let the New Mexico Territory become two states – so let Iraq become three. We’ll deal with the pieces well enough. And indeed, it might well be easier. We would have to deal only with Shites in “South Iraq” and Sunni in “West Iraq” and the Kurds in Kurdistan.
So what if the Kurds of Syria and the Kurds of Iraq join together? Oh, Turkey is worried of losing its Kurdish provinces – I dare say, those provinces are not “Turkish” at all – they’re Kurdish. They don’t speak the same language, don’t have the same culture, and each’s pop stars probably hate the other’s. And if Iran loses it’s Kurdish provinces? Well, fine, a weakened Iran is good for all, yes?
Meanwhile, we’d have smaller Syria, Iraq-Lite, Turkey tweaked and Iran shrunken, and we have a new country Kurdistan – which all in all would bring far more peace than the current arrangement. America didn’t draw the lines, nor did we put the people where they are, nor make them hate each other as they do – why the hell should we be preserving whatever it is that Britain and France and their own history created? Why is it in American national interests to keep these places alive? Ah, let them move the lines, and we’ll deal with the folks who lead the new places – and the oil will still be there, I’m sure. Let them figure it out. But to even consider war or intervention or support or assistance to Syria or Libya or Iran or any faction within them is nuts. If we didn’t learn that in Vietnam, shouldn’t we have learned it in Lebanon? Afghanistan? Laos? Where is the limit of American interests? Where is our learning from past disasters? But that doesn’t mean I’m against American defense, or the troops, or anything else that pertains to the Department of Defense about America and our interests.
And who brought us to this “We need to be everywhere” interventionist state? Well, it’s really Evangelical Racist Democrat Woodrow Wilson – founder of the modern Democratic party, it’s said, by some. Or perhaps, and too, it was Evangelical Racist Republican Theodore Roosevelt – founder of the modern Republican party, it’s said, by some. Well, either the two are twins, and the parties twain, or they’re just using the words differently. But it’s our interventionism that’s the problem. No, not our trade, or our keeping an ambassador around, nor even in our answering questions or mediating between two or three groups that ask – let them ask first, however. But to go in and try to set up the next leaders of these places is just wrong and stupid. Yet, both of the men for our choice have the same mindset – intervention.
And today we come up with Obama and Romney, the modern flag bearers for their interventionist parties with the holy writ to instil “Democracy” on people who still live in feudal times. Egad, what a colossal waste of time, effort, money and blood. But I must be for one or the other because supposedly one or the other is going to provide me with the best health care, too – though neither is a doctor, nor seemingly ever worked a day in the health care systems (we got lots of them,) in any capacity.
Because being a politician who is fundraising a lot, and is oh so very busy trying to maintain the peace among the hateful in lands far away with intractable feudal poverty, he’s also now expert enough to run the entire health care system. Sure he appoints other “experts” it’s said. But few seem to see that the experts are wrong most of the time, always having to reform their process, of course, and eliminate fraud, abuse and waste, too, that it would seem apparent that the only thing these experts are expert at is being hired as experts.
And to this fraud waste abuse – it may as well be one word at this point, why separate it by commas? It’s always said together. They are inseparable. Well, if your system is always subject to fraudwasteabuse I’d say you are clueless as to how to run your system.
One could go on about this binary bit I rail against – this I see in so many discussions among friends, commentators on this blog, people I meet – either you’re for the keep it the same but change it all Obama or the keep it the same but change it all Romney – or, giving up those two, for the parties they represent. Parties themselves that are said to be “big tents” to keep all their various disagreeing multitudes hitched to the same wagon at the canyon’s edge.
No, I say stop the binary nature of thinking. Stop the nonsense of Keep it the same, but Change! Egad, it’s almost sickening to listen to. Meanwhile, those emotionally invested in either camp are, I see, so clueless as to the various and sundry parts of the government that I often wonder what do they know? They know who they don’t like, for sure. They are sure that the other is out to destroy everything – by both keeping it the same and altering it fundamentally at the same time. They agree on most everything, to within 90% of the time, and this is my choice – because like rock band discussions in high school I have to say whether I think Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix is the best guitarist. It’s nuts, but I’m one schnook in the land of many. So I keep up this – “stop with the two party system running everything, and stop with the maintaining every program and department ever set up in the exact way it was set up 40, 50, 60 even 70 years ago.
We are supposed to be modern America, looking to the future – and now both parties merely wish to preserve the status quo within our borders and over seas – and put their own experts in charge of running the thing. It’s rather little known, in the Titanic saga, that the Captain was Mr. Smith. Well, what difference does it make to the Titanic and the passengers if it was Captain Jones? The result would have been the same. Oh, perhaps Jones would have turned a minute or two before or after Smith – but that Iceberg? It was going anywhere. Those passengers? They had no control other than to vote for Smith or Jones as captain. The crew? They’re emotionally invested in their Captain, oh Captain. And the rescuers? Let us hope they are closer than the Carpathia was to the Titanic, that’s for sure.
[and then, as an afterthought, there is of course the gay thing – which oddly, unbeknown to most, apparently & sadly – is that each nation I mentioned above has it’s “gay problem” over it’s 5% or less of their people that are gay. And each gay person here and abroad has the same problem as every hetero they know has in dealing with the reality of their time and place. And alas, too many gays, and too many heteros, try to put all gay folks on one side or the other of this dangerous binary divide, when in fact, gayness, like straightness – whom you smooch – is absolutely irrelevant, unaffected, and unable to affect, every single other element in the great puzzle of live and politics. Gayness, like heterosexuality, just has nothing to do with anything. Which is what really bugs me, that it’s said by many that I must be for this or that policy or politician merely because of my smooching preference. How dumb.]
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