It Worked

“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” – Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist may have not been able to fully realize his homicidal dream that is the cornerstone of movement conservatism, but the effect, at the hands of his adherents, is that no one trusts government to do anything anymore, which, is almost the same result.

Americans are angry. We’re angry that government isn’t working for us. We don’t understand why someone, or a group of someone’s with so much, would ask for, and get a bailout when there are so many that have been left behind. The whole tenor of this “crisis” has been fevered, but no one has bothered to explain it to the average person. Why, after 28 years of economic policy that has favored the wealthy, should anyone want to go further into debt to help those very people? No one wants to answer that question, and so, many people are even angrier than they were that they have been seemingly forgotten for people who have gained so much.

If you look at the long string of government failure, much that begins before Katrina, which was the grand awakening for most Americans, it’s easy to understand why people are angry. At every turn, the 80% of us that make up middle and lower income earners have been given the shaft. We’ve been fed a poop sandwich with different condiments, told to eat it, and like it. Some of us have. Others have been shouting from the mountaintops that tilting the balance of government oversight and intervention to unbridled “free market” reforms places greed over community. Suddenly, those pushing for the very same “free market” reforms are asking for a safety net. The winner is greed.

This crisis has been building. National unemployment is up to 6.1%. That’s nine months of consistent job loss. New numbers are expected tomorrow, and will no doubt be worse. Hell, the southeast lost 2500 jobs just last week with the closing of Bill Heard Auto. Despite this condition, nothing has been done to help workers. Nothing has been done period. We’re an afterthought. That’s reality.

I’ve been reading about this “crisis” for two weeks and still don’t understand it. I’ve asked people in the business, I’ve asked policy wonks, I’ve asked economists, and no one can seem to get to the crux of the problem. No one has an answer. More importantly, no one knows if the bill passed by the Senate last night will do anything more than expand the debt at the fastest rate in my lifetime.

If our elected officials want us to stand behind legislation, they need to break it down in a way that we can understand instead of resorting to “end times” rhetoric to scare us into supporting something we don’t understand. They need to treat us like adults, instead of a group of anonymous children at some overcrowded day care. Tell us what’s up and why we should care. Listen to us when we say we don’t understand, and try to explain it to our feeble little minds. We want to know. Do you want us to know?

The answer to this is no. They want us to be stupid. They want us to jump at their rhetoric rather than be a part of the solution. We want to be part of the solution. We want to be a part of something greater than ourselves. It’s your job to help motivate, inform, and mobilize us.

Most importantly, we want to know that we can trust you. We don’t anymore. None of you. Prove yourself, and we will stand behind you. Fail, and you will wonder where all your support went. Make us part of the solution, in some way other than asking for our vote. Inform us of the conditions and situations that made this happen so we can understand. Most importantly, if you want our continued support, you have to include us in the discussion, make us a part of the process.

Norquist and his buddies may not have killed government, but he helped kill our faith in it. The only way I see that faith being restored is to engage us. It’s way past time.

0 Replies to “It Worked”

  1. I especially like that next-to-last paragraph. Problem is, these politicians get more conceited and arrogant the higher they climb; and they get lazy about seeking guidance from their constituents. It becomes apparent the Peter Principle has kicked in, and we then have to kick them out.

  2. I certainly agree with the OP, but I don’t agree with Wintermute’s comment about the Peter Principle (I think it’s worse than that).

    Bush announces an economic crisis is looming (even though he was warned about this at least one year ago); says we need bold action and proposes a 3 page bill written by Paulson.

    The vast majority of our elected congress said, collectively: “That sucks”. In the 2 weeks that elapsed between Bush’s pronouncement and the passage of a top-down, pork-laden bill that is virtually identical to Paulson’s proposal. With the exception of Peter DiFazio OR, 534 of our employees wasted over 20 person-years of time and couldn’t come up with any alternative ideas. That’s what sucks. The best they could do was complain, whine, bicker, and get their faces on tv. That, with all the resources they have available, they couldn’t come up with counter-proposals. This isn’t the Peter Principle; they haven’t risen through the ranks and reached their level of incompetence. WE elected them; already incompetent.

    The bill that passed gives Paulson complete, unfettered, control over the spending of funds. Yes, there is an oversight committee, but he only has to file regular reports on what he is doing: the oversight committee can not interfere in his decisons.

    So the first thing Paulson does: Hires a buddy from Goldman-Sachs; what a surpise.

    But, Wintermute, you are dead right about the conceit. If I had a gun, I would have shot my tv.
    Chris Dodd: “We have to look out for the little people”. He wasn’t talking about children or those formerly called midgets. He was talking about us! We, the people who pay his salary, provide him nice benefits that most American’s do not have, are the little people?

    Another congressman (name forgotten): “This is a serious time, I have to get back to my constituents and the taxpayers.” Excuse me, aren’t your constituents and the taxpayers the same group of people. If they aren’t who are your constituents, since only the taxpayers can vote for you?

    When our elected finest started their 2 week; 20 person-year waste of time, I contacted all congressional representatives in my voting district and told them I would not vote for anyone who passed this top-down bail out. I told them I was setting up an online petition as my commitment to follow through (http://www.petitiononline.com/hulahoop/petition.html; if interested).

    There are simply too many questions that need to be answered before we give a private citizen $700B dollars to spend as he chooses.
    A. What,exactly, is the problem? There are several theories, but without some clarity, how can you be sure that this solution will be effective? (Remember Paulson is also unable to be sued or penalized in any way if he screws up)
    B. What is the most effective way to solve the problem? Many economists believe the current approach is exactly the wrong thing to do; that it will exacerbate the currrent situation. Other economists say that cash is needed, but not in the way that is proposed.
    C. Who should be in charge of the solution? So far, no one seems to like that a Presidential appointee, with no direct obligation to the taxpayer and who will be held harmless from any mistakes he makes.

    Ultimately, we may not like the solution, but at least we would have the understanding of what the problem is and why it needs to be approached in a particular way. We got nothin’ so far.

    If you think of this in as a real-world business owner with employees, you’d soon realize that your employees are dysfunctional- the business is failing; good ideas are needed; their own future depends on success – they can’t think of a single thing. You’d have to clean house immediately or sit back and go down with a sinking ship.

    Our power lies solely in our vote. If you are really concerned, contact your congressional representatives (they all have email), tell them exactly how you feel about their actions in this situation and how you will respond. If they aren’t all up for re-election this go around, tell them anyway; let them know you’ll exercise your opinion at the next available opportunity.

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