Thursday, December 29, 2011

Captives of Ourselves

I received an e-mail the other day, in which the writer agreed with me that Congress could look to its own pockets when they begin reducing the burden on taxpayers. My correspondent then went on to imply that all the world’s problems would be resolved if only the man in the White House were replaced by almost anyone else. I’m not so sure.
While I am not really pleased with the way the country has been led of late, neither am I really keen on having a president who thinks getting the government off our backs and into our bedrooms, subject to a particular interpretation of a version of the bible that isn’t mine, is the kind of freedom our founders had in mind. In fact, I’m certain it is not.

There are real problems facing this country, and they are not what church you attend (or that you attend at all), what kind of partner you may hold dear, or who owns your body. And just changing the president isn’t going to make us whole again. And we need to be made whole.

Right now, all across this country, young people are being deprived of  the kind of education that will fit them for the world as it exists and will be. Some states and localities have realistic and relevant educational goals, but too many would reduce their schools to "readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmatic" and the known world when the McGuffey Eclectic Reader was the textbook of choice. The current administration wants to change that. The challengers seem to want more copies of McGuffey.

Another issue that has been made the center of political argument is health care. Many people seem to have been convinced that the planned changes in how we deliver health care will kill us. The new plan has evolved because we now have the most costly and marginally effective health care of any developed nation. So why haven’t those who challenge the new health care program come up with a solution before now? And why should I have confidence in whatever would replace the program initiated by this administration? Did turning over part of our national security to contractors make Iraq and Afghanistan successes? Do you get your mail on time?

One more argument that I read regularly is that the current administration wants to "tax the rich," as if that were some kind of new idea that will bring down the country. The argument most often advanced against that is that the "rich" will stop investing in "job creation" if they are taxed at what most of us would consider a fair rate. Does that mean they have been investing in job creation and we didn’t know it? Oh, I mean here in our country, not in places where the prevailing wage and standard of living are in the dollar-a-day range.

And finally, who makes the laws? Not the president. Congress writes the laws (or their lobbyists do), and the president executes them. The courts interpret and enforce them. And we, the people, pay for them.

We are captives of ourselves, and we are being asked to pay the ransom.

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