Monday, January 25, 2010

The Death of Common Sense

Have you noticed that the national political parties spend most of their time pointing out what the other party is doing wrong? The Republicans blame the Democrats for the ridiculous spending the Federal Government is doing. The Democrats blame the Republicans for delaying progress, offering no new ideas for righting what is wrong in the country. What a bunch of dumb-ass, self-delusional nonsense. It makes me wonder what Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, or John F. Kennedy would say. Probably that we are a nation of idiots. And I'm not talking about the fun loving Red Sox-Kevin Millar sort of idiots, but actual idiots. Like, stupid.

As an example, we are spending money hand over foot to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a reminder, we invaded Iraq, in part, to dismantle their weapons-of-mass destruction. We must have scared the shit of out of the Iraqis, as they uninvented any and all weapons-of-mass destruction before they actually made them. How many billions of dollars and thousands of lives have we wasted? Many of both. And for the record, the Republicans led the charge, the Democrats followed like cows, and the American public bitches and complains. Perhaps most vulgar, we watch CNN or Fox and let the news media scare the piss out of us, and keep throwing money at Iraq. Or Yemen, or Nigeria, or fill-in the failed state of your choice. But as the old saying goes, if you break it, you buy it. We broke Iraq, so I guess we own the mess. Ka-ching.

Afghanistan? Maybe worth the fight. Not to save the country. The Russians broke it, the Taliban buried the pieces, and we smashed whatever was left. Except the poppy fields. So we have cheap heroin, so we have that going for us. And we don't want to piss off Pakistan, even though 3/4 of what is left of Al Queda is in...Pakistan. With friends like that, who needs enemas? But I can see staying in Afghanistan to smash the little terrorist groups that get organized enough to buy some AK-47's, cell phones, and 155 millimeter artillery shells. But let's be honest, what would be a good outcome there? Democracy? Less violence? An end to narco-terrorism? Less US causalities? Oh yeah, we have major military commitments on the Korean peninsula and small ones all over the damn place, too.

How about here at home? Starting in the Reagan-era, the conservatives behind the conservatives have systemically emasculated the Federal government, except the industrial-military complex. Practically is every case, we shop out real jobs in poorly regulated bid processes, spending lots of tax revenue for private companies to make some bucks and do piss-poor quality work. We stopped really regulating private business (banks, insurance, communications, etc.) in the 80's. Sure, it was piecemeal and didn't happen overnight, but we allowed the Federal government to become what we actually fear most. Fat, stupid, open to partisan politics, impersonal. For every example of good government, anyone who reads a paper or watches the nightly news can list a half dozen examples of the Fed fucking up.

But the American public is complicit. I'm socially liberal, but can't quite get over the fact that lots of groups -- on the left and right -- want someone else to fix their problems, pay for the pet projects, or make them feel better about their shitty existence. Our older population want entitlements that outstrip our ability to pay for them. Wall Street and the banking community want protection from risk. The housing sector wants double digit sales of new and existing homes, and at the same time wanting home values to grow by 10% a year. Huh? Supply and demand dictates that as more homes are available, prices should flatten out, if not go down. And their seem to be a few houses for sale. We spend a bunch of money to bail out the banks and are surprised that that money didn't end up in our hands? Really? But who wanted the banks to fail? My money is in a bank. My home loan is owned by a bank. We do stupid things, we watch stupid things happen, we listen to stupid things from politicians from all stripes, and we get angry. We don't do anything much, but we do angry well, don't you think?

Jobs? Well, as long as we ship out simple jobs to India, China, or other rim nations, does anyone think we'll have real job growth? No one wants to drop $120,000 for college, then drive for UPS. Could we create new jobs without a stronger manufacturing base? Maybe our country can employ 180 million adults in the film industry and video game design. But I doubt it. We need to develop industries that we keep control over. We need less accountants, stock brokers, and lawyers, and way more nurses, teachers, doctors, scientists, and engineers.

Let's sum up. We spend too much, save too little, expect too much, don't deal with change well, and don't pay attention for long. What are we, teenagers? If we spend a lot to save some dirt farmer in Afghanistan, we should raise taxes. If we want better infrastructure, perhaps you might also consider spending less on shit like a Mars program, F-35's, or a big fucking wall that doesn't keep illegal immigrants out of the country. Less urban violence? More jobs, a bit of dignity, laced with a hope for a safe, reasonably healthy retirement. Cheaper oil? Drive a smaller car. Too fat? Eat less. Sick of the news? Turn off the television. $50,000 for a tennis courts in Montana? Sheesh.


Please don't take me too seriously.