05 August 2011

Responsible Citizenship

As you know, this blog is literary, not politicial. I will not depart from this purpose. Today's post deals with basic information and concepts which impinge on certain current events. Since the theme of my three Angela novels over the entire story arc is responsible citizenship and what it can cost you, I beg leave to make a very few observations.

Over the last few weeks the members of Congress have acted like children. They have stood for opinions based on which side they are on (not on careful consideration of the background, the facts, or the effects) and have petulantly refused to budge from their positions. Then they came up with a "compromise" which shirks responsibility. The real issue is not the level of debt the US carries, but rather what the national budget priorities should be.

One faction of one of the parties wishes to eliminate all the entitlement programs (including public education). If that is what they wish to accomplish, it is their right to try, but they should state clearly and openly what they propose. One faction in the other party would like to see entitlement programs strengthened, including the development of a single-payer national health service. If that is what they are after, they should state so clearly as well. If we are to vote on where the money goes, we must as voters know exactly what the politicians intend. Instead we get a smokescreen in the form of the debt ceiling debate.

The national debt is issued in treasury bills, which are very popular the world over and which have been the safest investment we as individuals can make with our money. We should think twice before messing with them. When we elect people to Congress who spend our money lavishly without raising government revenue, the government has to borrow more money. One party has routinely lowered taxes in the hope that the resulting debt will motivate people to slash entitlement programs. One party has pursued incredibly expensive wars without budgeting at all for them. These two practices are the biggest creators of our national debt. One party fights to keep all the entitlement programs. On the positive side it does tell us we must raise taxes to pay for them. On the negative side, they have not had the guts to stand up to the financially irresponsible waging of the wars. Notice I have made no mention about whether the wars are necessary. I am only addressing the matter of how we are to pay for them. Notice also that I have not named the parties. Personally I am a political agnostic, that is, I don't believe that politics or politicians can save us.

The real issues are (1) what programs do we want from the government (e.g. are social security and medicare a good thing and therefore to be kept? How about public education?), (2) the creation of real jobs (full-time, with reasonable salary and benefits), (3) rational regulation of commerce for the good of all, (4) environmental policy (what are the facts of what our industrial and personal activities are doing to the earth and what should we do about it?), and (5) tax policy. Whatever we decide we want to do together as Americans, keep two things in mind. The government is us (we can always change who is in it) and we must be willing to pay for what we decide.

How can change our politicking so that we can truly debate these matters?

1. Clarify concepts. For example: National debt per se is not a bad thing. Like business, government at times needs to raise funds which it then pays off from revenue. Let's just do it intelligently.

2. Put an end to political TV propaganda and replace it with debate. An easy way to cut down on negative political ads is to reinstate the fairness doctrine: whenever one party is on the air (whether through news coverage or paid advertising), the networks and stations are required to offer the other party equal time of the same value for free. We might consider requiring that all political debates take place on radio, where content prevails over image.

3. Get serious about outlawing lobbying or regulating it reasonably.

4. Restore a sense of personal honor and consideration and stop demonizing people because they belong to political party X.

5. Restore a commitment to education for all designed to equip our people as responsible citizens able to make informed decisions about what politicians openly propose.

We can do all this if we really want to. Let's start by telling our representative and senators to be open in public about what they propose, to be civil in all their dealings with the other party, and to listen carefully to the voters and refrain from writing back to justify their votes.

Please take a look at my latest release, Angela 1: Starting Over, which deals with some of these issues but is not political. Get the beautiful hardcover version at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html . Angela is also available as an ebook at your favorite provider, at a considerably cheaper price.

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