Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tell Me It Isn't So!

As our nation continues to be gripped in the throes of fairly daunting economic data, it is responsible to consider the ways in which our elected representatives, senators and the President have chosen, and may choose in the future, how to address the rather unattractive numbers we are constantly inundated with about unemployment, the stagnation of America's economic growth, and others.  At first blush we see one party, largely represented by the Democrats, made-up of self-professed liberals and those who have taken-on the newest moniker to grace the Left, the Progressives.  Democrats have historically favored the "downtrodden" and less-fortunate in our society.  Democrats have historically been supportive of labor rights movements that provide a stronger, collective voice to American workers.  Democrats have history been a champion of senior citizens and the disabled.  Now, despite the fact that Democrats are also historically displayed a surprising ineptness at promoting the messages and causes that they celebrate and strive to improve, they continue to be in the corner of "the average American."  Some would most likely argue that fact.  But, when all else fails, we can find some comfort in the notion that, traditionally, the facts don't lie.  And the facts are such, that other than a rather bizarre embracing of some individuals and businesses associated with Wall Street (bizarre only because it has not been quite as "out in the open" as it has in recent years), Democrats continue to be the political party in the United States that believes that all Americans not only have a right to succeed and the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"; Democrats also continue to believe that if you are one of those who fall on difficult times (whatever the cause), or are simply not made to be wealthy (for any number of reasons, the most of which those same individuals have little ability to influence, if truth be told), then you deserve to find comfort in the fact that you will, at the very least, be able to achieve a relatively reasonable and safe quality of life ... even if that should mean that your government ... I'm thinking in terms of both state and federal entities here ... steps in to lend a hand. 

And then there is the other side; the Republicans.  It used to be that for one to profess (or, as some would prefer to suggest, confess) to be a Republican was a badge worn proudly.  Republicans are, thanks to history, "the Party of Lincoln."  Republicans have also been long-associated with a stron national defense (even while they have long liked to suggest noone else is quite as capable of defending this nation besides themselves ... ignoring, obviously, the contributions to the "American way of life" that were courtesy of that Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt).  And the Republicans have also been, at least somewhat (moreso "somewhat" in the past than can be said of the more recent decades) aligned with "big business."  The last point being largely due to that party's new-found championing of low tax rates for businesses and corporations.  I say new-found primarily based on the notion that the first true fiscal conservative was Thomas Jefferson ... a well-known and often villified and praised (in the same speech more times than one wants to admit) individual more closely associated with the Democratic party.  Alas, being a member of "the party of Lincoln" rings a bit more hollow than it might have in the decades after the Civil War (and prior to the reforms created by the Civil Rights and Great Society legislation brought-about by then-President Lyndon Johnson, in the mid- to late-1960s).  During those first tulmultuous years after the "War Between the States," Republicans could (and sometimes even did) proudly trumpet the fact that their former party member ... the 16th President of the United States ... provided the pathway for equality of all Americans, and the ending of the practice of human bondage (aka. Slavery).  And many Republicans still today like to promote their belonging to that august political party that ended the tragedy that was succession and brought-about the demise of one of the most cruel and inhumane practices to ever exist on the planet.  Unfortunately, in an era where no truer words were spoken when one says that "actions speak louder than words," Republicans today fall woefully short of the standard passed to them by President Lincoln. 

What is most disheartening about the shift in Republican 'politics' (as it were) is the fact that I actually know (and have known in the past) a number of people who identify themselves as Republicans.  And yet, when I consider what today's Republican party stands for, I ask myself, "How is that these good and decent people that I know ... how can they be a part of this political party ... the Republicans?!"  The Republicans I personally know do not believe that government is, in and of itself, inherently evil; that there are some things which government can and should do.  The Republicans I have befriended in the past and those I know today do not act as though they wish to make things like food, a home, and healthcare available to only those who can afford it.  The Republicans I know do not believe that corporations should be in-charge of our local, state or national elections; rather, they have long-championed civic involvement and the importance of every eligible person expressing their right to vote.  Those same Republicans do not think it reasonable, fair or responsible to, therefore, create some seemingly benign yet malignant litmus test for would-be voters by imposing a "photo I.D." requirement that prevents anyone without one (a photo I.D.) from voting.  And the Republicans I call "my friend" do not believe it is appropriate, just or even moral to treat others as "less than" or as "sub-standard Americans" based on their race, gender, age or sexual orientation.  And like that relatively famous Oliver Wendell Holmes opined some years ago, those Republicans that I have and hope to care about and be cared for by, believe that a progressive income tax is the price that Americans should pay in order to be granted access to a free, fair and just society.  Yet, the Republican party of the 21st century has seemingly embraced many (if not all) of those very sad, in some respects inhuman, inhumane and despicable positions. 

I freely and openly admit to my having once belonged to the Republican Party.  In fact, I worked for President Reagan's campaign in 1980.  As a then-16 yr. old, I was enamored with Reagan's eloquence and his overt "Americanism."  At the time, of course, I was not able to participate in that years' election.  Just the same, I was ready, willing and able to spend many-an-hour promoting the "values" that he espoused.  And while in later years, after becoming better educated about the issues then (and now), I became seriously and severely dispirited with the Republican party after reaching an understanding of how then-President Reagan introduced a number of things into our 'national discourse' by way of public policies and programs that today are resulting in horrific consequences, I still believe that at that time ... in the late- 1970s and early 1980s ... Reagan gave our nation a psychological "boost" that was sorely needed. 

Despite the fact that today's Republicans like to parade their "Reagan Republican" credentials, they are little like the former President in many ways.  It's true that Reagan slashed income tax rates.  It's true that Reagan spent hundreds of billions on defense, increasing defense spending exponentially, at a period in our nation's history when we weren't engaged in any major conflicts.  But yet, President Reagan was willing and able to do those things while also agreeing to modifications to Social Security that provided that program with sustained viability for decades.  He didn't believe that Social Security, in and of itself, was inherently evil.  In fact, he embraced the notion that American needed some sort of "social safety net" that would provide aid to those who find themselves unable to provide for themselves and/or their families.  And probably the most glaring difference between President Reagan and today's 'version' of "a Republican" is that he was ready, willing and able to compromise with those politicians who were from the other party (or parties). 

I know the Republicans that I have called "my friend" or who are (or were, in the case of those who have passed-on) members of my family.  Those persons are friends of mine (or family).  And today's Republicans are no "Reagan Republicans."  And I find it really hard to believe that the majority of Americans truly, honestly and deeply believe-in some of the sorts of changes that today's Republicans have suggested that they would like to make.     

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's the Economy, Stupid! Or ... Why Another "Stimulus" is Our Only Hope

The oft-used phrase that was coined during past presidential elections in an attempt to signify a disconnect between candidates and the issues facing the nation (at the time .. and ironically again today) is painfully apropos today as Wall Street continues to stumble following Standard & Poor's downgrading of the debt of the U.S. federal government.  In what has become a fairly standard, and rather hackneyed, response to the U.S.' continued economic troubles, Republican members of Congress trumpeted the need to rein-in government spending.  That would be all well and good if a majority of government spending was made-up of 'discretionary' spending.  However, it's not.  And during a period of time when more-and-more Americans are being forced to seek-out government assistance of one kind or another, the already-proposed cuts to federal spending portends a rather dark period in our nation's not-too-distant future.  If one wants to hazard a guess as to how things will turn-out, should Republicans get their way and marshal through Congress even more drastic spending cuts, just look to the growing unrest and rioting that is taking place in England.  There is our "tomorrow" if we do not demand a halt to the ridiculous draconian cuts to federal government spending. 

It would be a mistake for anyone to suggest that I believe cutting any spending is wrong.  Despite some moderate "belt-tightening" that has taken place at the behest of President Obama, there remains areas in government spending where programs are duplicated, and where needless waste and inefficiency exist.  Continued pressure to root-out those instances and ending them is entirely appropriate.  However, in order to satisfy the need of some in Congress for even deeper cuts, it will mean slashing already-strained budgets at a variety of government agencies and departments.  Like clean water?  Enjoy going to the store and buying food that you can be relatively assured is not going to sicken or kill you?  Appreciate being able to drive on roads that don't threaten to rip the undercarriage of your vehicle out from under your driver's seat?  Too bad!  Because if the types of cuts Republicans would like to enact see the light of day, you won't be able to count on any of those things (and many others) that we've for so long taken for granted. 

One of the most important lessons members of Congress needs to learn from the debt downgrade is that attempting to balance the federal government's budget purely via cutting federal spending is neither reasonable nor rational.  It is going to take additional revenue to get the federal government's budget back under-control; period.  Don't like that?  Too bad!  It is time to wake-up, smell the coffee, put down that bong or whatever illegal substance that some members of Congress have obviously been partaking up to this point, and get the message; increased revenues, along with moderate belt-tightening by the federal government is the only way to solve the government debt issue.  Standard & Poor's telegraphed the possibility of additional downgrades of federal debt should Congress fail to adopt a more sensible fiscal policy.  And the fact that S&P's most recent downgrade came immediately on the heels of the Republican-led, Republican-caused and Republican-owned hubbub over raising the federal debt limit, which included nearly a trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next ten years (and NO revenue increases) should be a big ol' wake-up call to those members of Congress that their proposed "solutions" are not want those in the debt-rating industry are looking for.

Why is that?  Namely, because they too can see the writing on the wall.  Our economy is faltering, even while we're in the midst of a relatively anemic recovery from "W's" recession.  And yet, despite the fact that economic growth has stagnated, many of the largest corporations in the U.S. (and internationally) are sitting on huge sums of unproductive cash reserves.  Fueled, in large-part, by the easy and cheap access to credit offered by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the laundry list of tax breaks, reductions and removals that have thus far been enacted in an attempt to jumpstart America's economic engine.  And one of the most sure-fired ways of causing an increase in tax revenues for the federal government is by way of improved economic performance by the nation as-a-whole.  Additionally, while those corporations are sitting on their large sums of cash, they've been allowed, again as a result of changes in tax policy in past and the current administrations to pay paltry percentages of those funds in the way of taxes. 

At this point in the game that is America's economy, we are in sad need of some significant growth in economic output.  Corporate America, despite their having the funds available with which they could spark increased and improved economic growth, has instead chosen to hold the American economy hostage, in exchange for a President that they believe would be more business-friendly.  So ... if the "free market" is not able or willing to spur economic growth, we only have the federal government left to turn-to.  Like it or not, this nation needs ... no, REQUIRES ... another economic stimulus.  Just about every noted and notable economist believed that the first stimulus of the Obama Administration was not nearly large enough.  And now we are reaping what was sown.  Unfortunately, not enough was sowed ... so our reaping is a bit grim. 

I have no doubt that if anyone should have the temerity (although I would liken it more to having courage) to suggest another stimulus, Republican and Tea Party members of Congress will portray it as Armaggedon.  What they fail to realize, understand or appreciate is that if our economy is not able to experience even moderate growth in the very near future, the country we will be living in come the 2012 presidential elections is going to look much different than it does today.  And I am fairly confident that between now and then, the American people will become well-acquainted with the destructive policies and programs that Republicans have thus far managed to foist onto the American people. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

"High Heels, and Make-up and Dress ... Oh My!!"

In California the issue of teen bullying has taken a bizarre and albeit tragic turn: 14-yr. old student Brandon McInerney shot and killed 15-yr. old student Larry King.  The shooting occurred one day after King reportedly, wearing make-up and high heels, walked back-and-forth in-front of McInerney (who was seated on a bench outside the two students' school) and hurled verbal taunts and insults at him.  Other students were apparently watching and laughing at the situation.  One witness, testifying at McInerney's first-degree murder trial for the death of King, stated that at the time of the taunting McInerney was seated on the bench "looking angry and upset ... I saw a lot of rage there."  Apparently, there was a lot of rage there, because the next day McInerney brought a gun to school, shooting and killing King. 

The attorney arguing McInerney's defense is portraying McInerney as an abused teen, who simply reached a breaking point.  Several witnesses at the trial testified as to how they had first-hand knowledge of the 15-yr. old teen (he was 14 at the time that he shot King) being physically and verbally abused by his father: including being punched, fingers/thumbs bent backwards until McInerney screamed in pain, even molestation by another relative.  It is entirely possible that due to the seemingly constant onslaught of abuse that McInerney was experiencing "at home," that the taunts of King pushed him past his breaking point.  Many, if not most people would agree that everyone is able to handle varying amounts of stress in their respective lives, but that they all have a "breaking point" ... a point where the stress becomes so overwhelming that the individual is no longer entirely aware of his/her actions, and will often engage in very uncharacteristic behavior.  Including, in some isolated incidents, someone hurts or kills another (and often times themselves).  It is truly a terrible situation; the sort and level of abuse that McInerney apparently suffered.  But should that be reason enough to acquit him of murdering 15-yr. old Larry King in cold blood?

Ironically, yet not-at-all surprising, there are many (including McInerney's defense attorney, apparently) who feel McInerney is a greater "victim" than the young man that he shot and killed.  Comments on the news story on several web sites are highlighted by a number who decry how "it's apparently O.K. to bully someone if you're gay."  Meaning, that if a person is gay it must be acceptable for them to bully other individuals.  If anyone wishes to look for ways in which the differences between society's 'tolerance' and acceptance' of gays exists, this story gives us a very stark, very clear example to learn from. 

Yes.  It was wrong that King taunting his fellow student.  The fact that he was wearing high heels and make-up is, in many respects, makes little or no difference when considering the reality that he was, apparently, bullying McInerney.  And King should have been stopped.  At least two school employees, one a teacher and another an administrator, viewed King's actions and did nothing.  And so McInerney 'snapped', got a gun, and came to school the next day, and shot and killed his bully. 

Society has begun what sometimes seems like an inexorably slow evolution in its' views towards gays and lesbians.  Issues like fair and equal employment and gay marriage have gained majority-approval in many nationwide polls over the past several months.  To some this gradual shift in behavior toward gays and lesbians could (and no doubt has) lead some to believe that the majority of Americans have come to "accept" gays and lesbians as "their equals."  Nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, if one were able to delve into the psyche's of many of those who participated in the various polls that have taken place, it would be learned that many of them do accept the fact that gays and lesbians exist; that their sexual orientation (like a person's race and gender) is something that they are born with, or that "comes naturally."  But there is a chasm-wide separation between accepting that a group of people 'exist' and accepting that those 'others' are the equals of all others within a society.  The comments about the aforementioned news story highlight exactly that point: in a tragic situation where one teenage student shot-and-killed another because of bullying, it isn't the dead teenager that many show concern for, but rather, the student that was being bullied and shot his fellow student. 

Last year the news media (coming late to the party as they are often want to do) began reporting on the increasing numbers of suicides of gay teens in the U.S.  And in recent years a number of states have enacted legislation that makes bullying in-school illegal.  And even more school districts across the country have anti-bullying policies that discipline those students caught engaged in bullying another student.  But what is being lost in the 'pity' being shown to McInerney for his being bullied is that, apparently, it is acceptable to many that the "gay kid" died.  Many gay teens, facing horrendous and horrific bullying at-school and abusive treatment by parents and siblings at-home, resort to suicide; either attempting or succeeding at rates several times greater than heterosexual teens.  And in the awful tragedy that occurred between King and McInerney, a gay student who may well have simply been turning the bullying back toward an individual who had been engaging in bullying himself, was shot and killed because he was acting "gay" and taunting McInerney.  But again ... it was the "gay kid" who died; it was the "gay kid" (apparently the way some see it) who was "in the wrong." 

Bullying is wrong; period.  King should have been stopped and disciplined by school officials.  Particularly in-light of the fact that school officials not only were aware that the bullying was occurring; they witnessed it first-hand!  But short of being threatened with serious and potentially fatal physical harm by another, killing the 'bully' should never be seen as "acceptable."  What would society say if a gay teen who was being subjected to taunts and bullying by other students decided the next day to find his/her tormentors and kill them?  I can tell you: put him/her in jail!  That's what would be the reaction of "society."  And that should be the reaction of society in this case too.  We should never allow anyone to "get away with" taking the life of another when an imminent threat of physical harm or death did not exist.  And the fact that many who have commented on the news story, crying "poor little McInerney ... he was being teased", feel that he was the real "victim" in this situation, is a clear indication that gays and lesbians still, despite the many positive steps forward in equality for the LGBT community, are not thought-of as being "the same" or "equal" to society in-general.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"We Put the "H" in Hypocrisy!"

And apparently, they're proud of it!  The "They" I'm referring to are House and Senate Republicans in Washington, D.C., who did not shy away from admitting that the forced furlough of some 74,000 workers (those employed by the FAA directly, and construction workers contracted for airport construction projects) was simply a 'means to an end.'  The 'end' that they are hoping for is the inclusion of an amendment to a recently offered FAA funding bill that would negate a Senate-passed amendment that would make union organizing only marginally easier for workers in the airline industry.  As the rules stand now, when workers at a business votes on union organization, those workers who do not vote (for whatever reason-perhaps they're on vacation or ill or something more inane) have their votes automatically entered into the official tally as a 'no' vote.  The Senate, in its version of the FAA funding bill, adopted an amendment that would only require a majority of those workers who actually vote to gain the opportunity for union organization in that workplace.  Apparently, Delta Airlines, the only major U.S. air carrier not unionized, objected to Congress making it easier ... in any way, shape or form ... for its workers to organize and join a union.  So, with seemingly endless hours of lobbying of Republican members of Congress (particularly the House) by Delta and its 'hired guns' (aka. lobbyists), the Republican chair of the House Transportation Committee inserted an amendment in the House version of the bill to strip the Senate amendment. 

Now, when the two chambers of Congress are considering similar pieces of legislation, their individual efforts (once passed by each respective body) are then forwarded to a 'conference committee', wherein the differences between the two bills are, theorectically, ironed-out.  Thus paving the way to final passage and the subsequent signature or veto of the President.  In this instance, the conference process did not manage a 'compromise.'  Of course, that may well be due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress have made it their mission to deny, avoid, or outright torpedo any attempts at any sort of compromise that might be made to look like Democrats, and the President in particular, were victorious.  Republicans seem hell-bent on insuring that Democrats are 'losers', no matter the piece of legislation that moves through Congress.  Unfortunately, while Democrats have taken a beating, no doubt, the American people are the ones who, in this latest instance and so many others, are bearing the ugly brunt of the stick that Congressional Republicans are wielding. 

As a result of the hamstrung FAA funding bill, the agency, which as you might have guessed it, is in-charge of nearly every aspect of air travel in this country, was forced to furlough 4,000 FAA employees who serve in positions besides those which have to deal directly with air safety.  Along with those FAA employees, roughly 70,000 construction workers, hired by the federal government for a whole host of airport construction projects all over the country, have been told to "stay home until further notice."  So ... let me get this straight.  The people who have been suggesting since Day One of President Obama's administration that Americans need jobs, is admittedly stonewalling the FAA funding bill, which, as already mentioned, is putting 74,000 Americans on a forced furlough.  Now, I'm no member of Congress.  But that doesn't sound like a job-creating ... or even job-sustaining ... proposition to me. 

As if that little 'nugget' of sunshine wasn't enough to send millions of Americans to scratching their heads and asking, "WFT?!"  Because this particular FAA funding stream was allowed to lapse, the airlines are no longer collected the "ticket tax" that basically funds the FAA.  That little 'raincloud' is going to cost the federal government and American taxpayers $200 million a WEEK!  Or ... if we assume that this issue will not be settled until Congress reconvenes after Labor Day, it will suck over $1.2 billion from the government coffers. 

Rank hypocrisy is not new to Washington, D.C.  It has been around, in some measure, since the founding of this nation.  There have always been politicians who have been elected (by a deceived electorate one hopes), only to go to Washington and promote legislative policies that fail, both in concept and in practice, to improve the lives of the American people.  And while instances of rank hypocrisy have occurred, they would usually trend toward more isolated issues that didn't effect entire segments of our society.  No in this case.  In this instance Republicans have made the conscious decision to champion legislative action (or inaction might be the better word to use here) that not only flies in the face of their jobs-centric position, but actively, willingly and knowingly harms tens of thousands of Americans and their families. 

You know Republicans have "crossed the Rubicon" of common sense and fair play when a Republican member of the Obama administration, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, takes to the White House press podium and calls on Congress to return to Washington and pass this funding bill.  If only Mr. LaHood's words would be enough. 

Perhaps it is time for the President to consider calling for an emergency session of Congress?  The Office of the President has that authority; to call members of Congress to Washington and require it to go into session.  Granted, doing so would no doubt impose on the self-awarded "August Recess" (aka. vacation) that Congress has given itself.  And I'm sure that more than a few members would be a little miffed.  So what?!  Then they should have done their jobs when they were in-town! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Inmates are Running the Asylum

Well ... our nation has avoided the "debt default" debacle that was created entirely by our members of Congress.  I suppose we should all share in a collective "sigh" of relief.  Admittedly, avoiding default on U.S. Treasury bond payments (those bonds being what is 'sold' in order to raise 'cash' that the federal government can then use to pay its bills) is a good thing.  A very good thing, in fact.  Credit markets froze-up fairly significantly as a result of the implosion of our nation's banking industry in 2007.  That would be a "blip on the radar" compared to what a default on U.S. Treasury bonds would have meant for this country.  And the world would feel its horrendous effects as well.  So ... it's a good thing, in theory, that we've avoided default.  Unfortunately, our collective relief essentially gives Congress a 'pass' on their considering how and/or why the debate over raising the debt ceiling took place in the first place. 

Be that as it may, Congress and the President have told us that it's time to "Move on."  Fine.  Let's move on.  The next step in this fairly ugly spectacle will come in September when Congress puts together its' "Super Committee," which is supposed to find another $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.  Of course, the American people are clamoring, and rightfully so, for the government to get more involved on the issue of job creation.  But wait ... Congress just passed a law which cuts (assuming the "Super Committee" does its' job) trillions of dollars from the federal budget.  How exactly is the federal government going to do much of anything with regard to job creation?  They're not.  That's how. 

But why not?!  Because ... simply put ... they've managed to allow themselves to be boxed into a corner that they're not willing to work themselves (and the nation) out of.  About the only way the federal government can actually "create" jobs is to fund some significant research and development in a whole number of sectors, along with funding some real infrastructure repair, improvement and creation.  But the only way that the government will have the funds necessary to pay for such a plan, it would mean having to cut an equal amount of already-existing spending, or raising "revenues" (aka. taxes).  Or doing some of both.  That's all well and good.  But there is noone in Congress who is willing to put forth and champion a plan like that. 

If nothing else comes of this most recent demonstration of the political dysfunctionalism of the U.S. Congress, it is my fervent wish that the American people understand and appreciate that there were (and still are) some members of Congress (heedlessly prodded by special interest groups) who were perfectly willing to subject the American people to a horrendous economic calamity ... all for the purpose of partisan politics.  Dress it up any way you'd like, but the debate over raising the debt ceiling was a false debate from the moment it began.  And the fact that Congress allowed the American economy to be held hostage by this small segment of American politics is purely an abdication of every principle that a member of Congress should embrace and demonstrate. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Absurdity Run Amok

It appears that the heavily-contested debate over the raising of the federal government's borrowing limit is near an end.  At the time of the writing of this post, influential members of all sides of the "debt ceiling" debate have cobbled together a 'compromise' that would, in theory, cut over $2 trillion from the federal government's budget, while allowing an increase of the national 'debt limit' of approximately $900 billion.  This legislation would, in turn, allow the federal government to sell sufficient Treasury bonds to raise the funds necessary to pay the bills of the federal government.  That's a good thing.  Right?  Not necessarily.

So ... why isn't this a good thing?  The primary reason that this, or any similarly constructed 'compromise', is not a "good thing" is because the basic elements of the debate are, in effect, simply not true.  What are the 'false' elements of the debate?  The biggest "lie" that has been trotted-out by some is that the federal government has a "spending problem."  Does the federal government spend a lot of money?  Hell yes, it does!  Over $3 trillion this year alone.  But when one considers that the federal government of the United States is charged with providing for the "general welfare" and "common defense" of the American people (all 300+ million of them), as well as provide the underlying foundation by which those things are able to take place (including the regulation of a $14+ trillion national economy), it's no wonder ... in fact, it's fairly reasonable ... that the federal government spends a great deal of money.  Despite the fact that many on the Republican side blanche at the mere thought that 'government' could actually do something beneficial for its citizens, much of why the United States continues to boast one of the most advanced, most affluent societies on this planet is because of our government. 

If we would take, at face value, the arguments offered by Conservatives ... that government is too big, that Americans are "over-taxed", and that American business is "over-regulated" ... we are supposed to believe that if American businesses, if allowed to operate completely free of any government oversight or regulation, would essentially cure all of the ills that this nation and its citizens face.  Sure.  And if you believe that, you're more foolish and deluded than the politicians that are trying to sell that "bill of goods".  If we want any sort of indication of how 'business' would operate without sufficient regulation, we only need to look-back through history at some of businesses greatest "success" stories: Love Canal, Exxon-Valdez, Enron, WorldCom, BP-Horizon, and the debacle presided over by our nation's largest banks and mortgage-issueing institutions that resulted in the most recent recession, which many economists now fear we're dipping back into.  And those "headlines" are only the most obvious, most reported excesses and abuses that "business" has "gifted" us with.  A person could literally spend every minute, of every day, for years on-end detailing and describing the outrageous behavior that has been (and in many situations continues to be) exhibited by American business.  And yet, some would suggest that business is over-regulated?! 

The other major falacy that is promoted by some partisan political types is that America's millionaries and billionaires are over-taxed.  Couple that with an equally offensive premise that those same individuals are America's "job creators."  Tax rates, today, are at their lowest point since just after World War II.  During the 1950s and 1960s ... a period of almost unprecedented economic expansion and growth in the United States ... tax rates were, at times, for top earners, over 70%!  Today, rates for inidividuals and couples that can be classified as "top earners" are capped at 35%.  Wait a minute!  Taxes were high, yet the country was experiencing immense economic expansion?!  How is that possible?!  It's simple economics, folks.  The more individual success and prosperity that exists, the more individual success and prosperity that is able to be created.  However ... and here is the nub of the issue ... that "success" and that "prosperity" does not necessarily mean that a person achieves significant economic wealth or success by way of America's businesses.  It means, pure and simple, that when more people are able to afford a reasonable standard-of-living ... when more people are able to pay ALL of their bills for the basic things necessary to sustain that "reasonable standard-of-living" ... there is greater success and prosperity for everyone.  And that "success and prosperity" does, and should, include some individuals receiving monies from "government" (Social Security, 'food stamps', etc.).  Members of Congress must face facts ... there are some in this country ... many, in fact ... who will not, or are simply not able, to be great economic successes ... when we base "economic success" on the notion that someone is successful by achieving great financial wealth.  And there are some in this country, like it or not, who are simply not able to "fend for themselves".  And it is that segment of society that needs ... and deserves ... a helping hand. 

Until ALL members of Congress are willing to embrace the notion that government can, and should, do good things for the citizens of this nation ... and that those "things" ARE more than simply defending this country from attack or invasion by other peoples and/or countries ... this debate over the "debt ceiling" ... and any others of similar subject matter ... are false arguments, at best.  And they are a serious dereliction of duty by our elected officials, at worst.  The American people deserve better.  The American people deserve more than farcical theatrics from members of all political persuasions.  The American people deserve a government that does provide for the "general welfare" and "common defense."  Like the individual who can walk and chew gum at the same time, government can, and should, do more than one thing.  It's time Congress, and the President, accept that statement as fact.  And THEN begin the debate and discussion over how to best provide for all Americans.