Tuesday, January 4, 2011

House Republicans Defining Path to the "American Apocalypse"

The new House Republican majority has decided its first significant act will be to pass a bill to repeal health care reform. As this group is trying to define itself, one has to ask what its action means in terms of defining this new House Republican majority.

Think about the act itself. Repealing the Health Care Reform bill in the House will have zero effect on law. Why? With 48 Republicans in the Senate, there is no chance they can get the 60 votes needed to repeal the bill in the Senate, much less override a Presidential veto of the repeal.

So what does the act itself say? It is a symbolic gesture at best. It is meant to be a sign that they passed the repeal of health care reform but the Democrats stopped it. At its core, the act is nothing but a political move. It changes nothing in terms of the lives of you and me. It changes nothing for businesses. It changes nothing for anyone in terms of law.

So why waste the time on it? Simple. The political blame game. It is the game that Americans have fallen into and one that we must get out of if we are to fix our problems. If we reward and promote political gamesmanship instead of finding solutions to our problems, then we will get nothing more than more political gamesmanship and less solutions to our problems.

Think about the election. The focus of the Republican victories was fiscal responsibility. The focus was reigning in the government. The focus was fixing our economy to create jobs.

And the first post election actions? Extend the Bush tax cuts which maintain fiscal irresponsibility and pass a bill in the House that is nothing more than political gamesmanship. At some point, the American people must realize our politicians are now in it for the power and the game and the money. We aren't seeing solutions, we are seeing games not what is being promised.

The result is what David Stockman calls the "American Apocalypse." We need solutions not games. The longer we wait, the worse the ramifications will be for the average American.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Playing the Constitutional Tango with a Conservative

Tonight, I had a conversation on Twitter over the Constitutionality of Social Security with a good friend, @RalphSmorra and some others. While I generally like Ralph, I noticed something that is a pattern for conservatives and often for bad political debaters. They tend to say things like, "do you think the Founding Fathers imagined the use of like it is used today?"

While Ralph is not a "bad debater" generally, and is quite knowledgeable, I have to wonder why he would have thought the founders would have had even the slightest vision of today's world. Do they think the founders divined the Internet or the airplane, and its needs for governing?

Generally speaking, words and their meanings are not locked into cement or a vault that prevents them from evolving to a given time and place. To imagine we knew the original intent and that it would always be the same forever is rather specious to say the least. Heck, I often get bored watching the testosterone fly as people play the "what the founders intended" game as they cite one founder after another as if their views were monolithic instead of a group with various reasons for signing on to the document.

They act as though the constitution was a strict document, stuck in a time and place instead of what it really is: a flexible document that adapts to the test of time and situations.

If it was a strict document that had to be amended every time something changed, they wouldn't have created the Executive emergency powers; they wouldn't have created vague clauses like "provide for the common defense" or "promote the general welfare" which are pretty ambiguous in their phrasing. While conservatives will say the former phrase is carte blanche for all defense needs and means, they will argue the latter must be strictly interpreted by other clauses as they seek to push their views rather than the text of the document.

While each side seeks to re-interpret the Constitution by strict or vague means for their own policy agenda, the sad reality is that too many have never read the document enough to know who is right or wrong, only to follow their dogmatic opinion leaders who seek to make a fast buck and gain power off of their ignorance.

In today's Information Society, take the time to google and read the text of the Constitution. It isn't that hard.

With that said, maybe Ralph would have been better served spending time elsewhere than to claim 70 years of SCOTUS decisions on Social Security were wrong on vague, general terms like "there is no constitutional provision for Social Security."

2011: A Need for Small Business and Economic Balance

Robert Reich's economic prediction for 2011 looks good for corporations and Wall Street, but pretty poor for the rest of us. While Reich may point towards a political agenda, he also hits a pretty obvious point: American economics are out of balance, and the focus on elitism for economics will lead the rest of us poor.

What do I mean? Reagan's "Trickle Down Economics" were designed not to create an elite society separate from others, but rather to restore the balance between all segments of society. Excessive taxation on the upper brackets undermined incentive for investment. At some point, it went too far.

Today, our taxation and regulatory structures have returned us to a time when the rich have all the money, and the poor are left to beg for table scraps (or jobs as it were). American society has bought into the notion that if you free up money for the rich, the rich will create jobs for everyone else. Except, the rich got rich by being frugal, watching their money, and making wise investments. They didn't get rich by throwing money at bad or mediocre investments out of some duty to create jobs for other people.

Politicians have skewed the regulatory and taxation structures in favor of corporations. That has skewed the balance away from the small business. Why is that a problem? Small business drives the economy. Small business pushes innovation. Small business creates new wealth. Small business is the American Dream. Small business is how people get from being a dreamer to living the American Dream. Undermining that small business is how the American Dream is destroyed.

If Americans want to save themselves economically, they must push their politicians for a taxation structure that is balanced, that doesn't favor the rich or corporations but rather maintains the balance between each of us. They must start taking the opportunities to build small businesses instead of focusing on waiting for the rich to create jobs for them. And they must push for net neutrality, which will continue to allow Americans a free and open internet as a forum to build those small businesses from.

In bad economic times people often forget: Economic success stories tend to come from desperation not inspiration. Bad economic times are as good a time as any to build a small business.