Let’s suppose you are at Disney World with your kids and you see Goofy and Mickey outside the It’s a Small World ride in mortal combat against each other. Before you know it, all the other cartoon characters have taken sides and now you have a real gang war going – hair pulling, tail tweaking, and everything! This is NOT why you came to Disney World and this scene is not anything you want your kids to see. You feel pretty helpless because it might take some time to notify the park management to stop the fracas.
That helplessness is what many of us feel about Washington right now. Elections are off into the future and meanwhile we have to watch selfish politicians demolish our country. It ain’t pretty!
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize dysfunctional government and its deleterious effects. Even the President underscored this point. But he is not above the fray. His bus tour was more about reelection than healing or else he wouldn’t have said millionaire/billionaire about a zillion times a day. “Mommy – Charles hit me first.” Charles retorts,” No Mommy, Pete hit me first.” Who cares who hit first? The truth is that both parties are out of control. They both need extended stays in time-out.
The Rs cling to a notion of no tax increases which at minimum is an undefined statement. Despite its lack of clear meaning it serves as a war cry that rallies the troops. The Ds attain the same pitch by screaming about rich people. Again, no one really wants to define a rich person but the message is pretty clear. This is enough to get the smoke rising and the tribes chanting. Thanks to 24 hour news/entertainment the politicians who most effectively promote this environment of misinformation and hatred get the rewards of air time and notoriety.
At the heart of all this is something of value – determining to what extent liberal and conservative ideology is promoted. We all know that legislative manifestation of ideology swings back and forth from left to right and this is probably a good thing. It is dizzying but it is doable. This bickering across parties about their ideological bases is both desirable and expected. But somehow this got out of whack. It is worse than usual and it appears that nothing will get done before the election to improve things. Like good Tar Heels (of North Carolina) both sides are stuck in place with little hope for change.
What burns my butt is that the discussion is so disingenuous and harmful. At the heart of the bickering is the extent of entitlement and how you pay for it. To portray entitlement recipients or millionaires as somehow less than human is wrong and damaging. Worse yet – to act as if taking money from the rich and channeling it to entitlements will somehow improve the plight of the disadvantaged is extremely naïve and harmful. Can the rich pay more? Sure. But in the way things are now being handled you cannot blame the rich for reacting negatively. There is more than one way to catch bees…
I am reminded of the issue of handicapped parking. I was in a parking lot at a strip mall the other day and noticed this obviously handicapped woman limping in from a distant space. Then I noticed that even though there were a large number of handicap spaces, they were all taken. It seems that nowadays almost everyone has a handicapped hang tag – people with real but minor permanent handicaps get hang tags and people with temporary health issues often use their temporary tags much longer than necessary. No matter how fast they increase the number of special spaces – there are more people wanting them. Is that what the original law imagined? Did we really want to create a new and escalating entitlement called handicap? I don’t think so and I felt really sorry for the limping lady.
What am I saying? Basically that our entire entitlement edifice needs to be looked at again in terms of real needs. It is possible to be a D or an R and believe that we are NOT doing a very good job with respect to people in our society who need help. It is also possible to admit that we are helping people at a very high cost who may not really need the help. By the way, I would apply this very same argument to military spending. We REALLY need to look at the effectiveness of all dollars we spend as a nation.
But you know, it isn’t going to happen because Mickey and Goofy are shouting at each other. What happened to our country that we have rewarded those who would rather get air time than actually do the work they are paid to perform? Real entitlement reform and fair tax reform are possible but it won’t happen if our leaders reduce their public and private communication to such enlightening conversation as we have been hearing. Hey R you guys are mean and rich and you gotta pay more taxes. Hey D you guys are dumb and you ain’t gonna get my money. It’s my money and my mom said so.
My next blog post will get into how and why things have deteriorated so far and maybe what we can do about it. For the time being, instead of focusing all of their attention on finger-pointing it seems to me that the real leaders ought to be stressing how similar and interdependent we all are. Boys and girls are different but they both are human beings and have more in common than differences. A policy to stamp out men sounds like fun at a girls night out but surely the next morning they would realize that they need us guys for a thing or two. The same goes for liberals and conservatives. Neither party wins by mortally wounding the other. Both parties and the country will gain when they begin to earnestly emphasize how we benefit from each other. Maybe Goofy and Mickey will find a way to lead us out of this mess.