Friday, November 19, 2010

It’s OUR Fault as Well!....

With hard times getting harder and lots of public sector employees, long impervious to recessions, facing layoffs, a lot of us are looking for someone to blame.

Some want to blame “corporate greed” or “greedy bankers”, others blame the government, a government that allowed all this to happen. Even worse, a government filled with members of “the political class” who moonlight as corporate denizens. That’s right, the corporate boards are filled with the likes of Al Gore (Google and Apple, to name a few), Vernon Jordan a senior managing director with Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, an investment banking firm. He is also currently a member of the board of directors of multiple corporations, including American Express, J.C. Penney Corporation, Xerox, Asbury Automotive Group and the Dow Jones & Company. He is formerly a member of the board of directors of Revlon, Sara Lee, Corning and RJR Nabisco, even old Walter Mondale, who served on the corporate boards of BlackRock Advantage Term Trust and other BlackRock Mutual Funds, Cargill Incorporated, CNA Financial Corporation, the Encyclopedia Britannica, First Financial Fund and other Prudential Mutual Funds, Northwest Airlines and United HealthCare Corporation and these are but to name a few.

But the truth is that we’re all somewhat culpable.

The people (as voters) over-demand...and politicians over-promise and the result is this familiar but inane bit of kabuki theater we’re all engaged in. Certainly there is rampant fraud and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid, as well as in many of our Military contracts and most of the other “entitlement” programs we’ve all (to one extent or another) supported.

BUT the people will ONLY support such expenditures up to a given cost.

Where is that point, or cost line?

It probably differs from individual to individual, but there’s little room now for added expenses being favored by a majority of Americans in favor of maintaining the current level of “service”.

If there was a willingness on a the part of a majority of the electorate to pay more for more services, that would’ve already been, it can’t be advanced because there isn’t enough support for that, so we can be pretty sure there is even less support for paying more for the same, let alone paying more for less.

That’s the dilemma America now faces. We’ve borrowed pretty much to the max, so we're faced with major cuts in government expenditures, especially in the major expenditures, our "sacred cows" (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Military) have to be made OR taxes and other costs/revenue-enhancers have to go up and our overall quality of life will fall precipitously and as unpalatable as the former (deep cuts) might be, hiking costs (taxes, etc.) and decreasing the quality of life of most Americans is even less palatable.

A lot of people like to blame (over-promising) politicians for all these ills, but they’re only one part of the equation...our (the general public’s) excessive demands have also played a part.


Fuzzy Slippers said...

Spot on as usual. It's so true that we bear some of the blame. I don't really think that anyone would deny that. What we can do now, and going forward, is work to correct our mistakes. When we get things back on track, we can beat ourselves and each other up about how we let it get so bad in the first place, but for now, I'm all for fixing it. Woohoo!

Skunkfeathers said...

We as voters have muffed the game too long. 2010, while a nice trend toward a potential necessary correction, remains to be seen to be what it was intended to be. If it isn't, will the voters remain engaged enough to push the game, or as we seem to more often than not, "go with the flow". Right down the drain.

The hardest part is going to be the entitlement classes, on both ends (the elitist and the takers). How long before the much larger, starting to get fed up middle, takes them both on, and tells political correctness to pound sand?

Fuzzy Slippers said...

@Skunkfeathers, where have you been for the past two years? We ARE taking them on, we ARE telling the pc police to pound sand, and we ARE staying engaged. I definitely understand your skepticism, but it's not at all helpful. It would be great if you joined us and helped us out, or are you too sure it's doomed? Because if you are and you don't help, it's just like this post says, and you--and everyone like you who says they want change but then just sits around griping that it won't work--are part of the problem.

JMK said...

"What we can do now, and going forward, is work to correct our mistakes. When we get things back on track..." (FS)
The problem here is that we're still, for the most part, the same people who demand a lot, in government "services", while looking to avoid the inevitable bills.

I was kind of surprised to find that nearly 2/3s of Tea party members are 50 y/o and over. The Democrats strategy is to campaign on "limited government" ultimately meaning the scuttling of social security and eradicating the public sector's vaunted "defined benefits (pension) plans.

My concern is that many people who are energized now, will lose their enthusiasm once the necessary spending cuts are more clearly defined and they see them as cutting into their favored perks.

We are STILL, at heart, a very spoiled nation.

Moreover, its moderates and voters who usually pay little attention to politics who've swung the last two elections.

The questions Tea Partiers have to answer are (1) how can these newly elected representatives be kept from being co-opted by the Washington, D.C. culture ("the lobbyist culture") AND (2) how can that vast (usually disengaged) middle, comprised largely of Independent voters be kept on-board, when some very serious (and potentially unpopular) cuts have to be made?

I think this is a more imminent issue than many would like to believe.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

You may be right, but there are a few things that I think will help conservatives (I could give a rat's azz about Republicans). One, we know that we can sustain the massive spending and still-growing government, and we see what is happening in Europe (Ireland is second up for a bailout). People aren't screaming blue murder about cutting entitlements, including ss. The left will try to make it sound like we mean now, but if you look at someone like Paul Ryan and his plan, it's a long-term plan that won't boot grandma off her ss tomorrow (or at all). We HAVE to cut spending, and that does mean MediCare, too, one good point that people make is that it was never intended to cover so many damn people (they were supposed to be dead by the time they reached eligibility). Extend, again not this second but down the road so as not to disrupt current MediCare patients, the eligibility age for that and let the private sector fill in that gap. They will. Which leads me to my next point, we also need to make some major cuts in government, including eliminating dinosaurs (like the U. S. Postal service), ineffective (like the Department of Ed), and do some major cutting in areas like the TSA and DHS. Those last two are growing at a truly alarming rate and for no reason at all.

Sorry, getting side-tracked from the point of your points (heh). I believe that Americans are ready for the major cuts that are needed, and those who are not can be convinced now that things are so freaking out of control. As to the indies, they, too, are polling support for cuts (not specific ones, though, so that's the battle). Conservatives need an articulate person to explain things to the people, someone who won't sneer at them, condescend to them, or lecture them. Someone like, but not necessarily, Paul Ryan.

As to our being a nation of takers or spoiled, this is true, but if we don't make changes now (and I mean in the next two-six years), we're doomed. The scales will have tipped that more people are parasites than are not, and if they get out to the polls . . . . We have a choice, you and me, we can bitch and moan about how hard it's going to be and sit back in defiance or disgust, or we can do our part to support conservatives and their ideas, including the tough decisions about cutting entitlements. Me? I choose to help to the best of my ability (and I suspect you do, too).

Fuzzy Slippers said...

lmao, "dead by the time they reached eligibility" You know what I mean, I know, but reading it back that made me giggle.

JMK said...

I think SF's point is that the 2010 Midterms were just a first (baby) step.

This has to be seen as what it is, a promising start after a decade of Republican dysfunction (Delay and Hastert basically undid all the good that Newt Gingrich's Contract did) and G W Bush began the Keynesian over-spending that the current administration merely ratcheted up.

Dick Armey is right, that this is the most dangerous time for Conservatives, who can't afford to make the mistake that the liberal Dems did - thinking that the public's rejection of the other side meant they "liked" us.

Much of America is tired of the "politics as usual", the "team sports" mentality that has increasingly infected politics over the past three decades.

The liberals politicized the War on Terror (WoT) and some Conservatives have taken to politicizing the economy.

Many Conservatives have refused to recognize that the Bush administration began the Keynesian over-spending that has been ratcheted up disastrously over the past two years and that many (mostly "Moderate" or "Rockefeller") Republicans shared in the blame for creating the conditions that triggered the mortgage meltdown.

I know the Tea Party has pushed a truly Conservative agenda and that was behind the candidacy of such flawed candidates as Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angle and despite the losses, I respect that ideological purity.

But we are at the very beginning, no further, in effecting anything close to the real change we need.

On that score, SF is right that, "The hardest part is going to be the entitlement classes, on both ends (the elitist and the takers)." The problem...the THREAT is that with all the new entitlements being created, and already close to 50% of Americans paying close to 0% in income taxes, that "entitlement class" is coming close to being able to swamp the producing class.

That's why I feel so strongly that we NEED to acknowledge that this is a real uphill struggle.

JMK said...

""dead by the time they reached eligibility" You know what I mean..." (FS)
Yes, I know what you mean...and there is quite a bit of support for cutting entitlements and it can be done gradually.

But it's also true that we have a medical system that spends 98% of its outlay on people in their last 6 months of life.

We NEED to change that. It would be better to spend more money on actual preventative care, perhaps even covering some bio-identical hormone replacement therapies that have been shown to significantly increase one's productive lifespan.

Ironically enough, the portion of the U.S. medical system that is really failing right now is the "existing public options" (Medicare and Medicaid), which are both insolvent and growing HUGE deficits each year! Yes, much of it's due to waste, fraud and abuse, but a lot of it is that we just cover too many people without any restrictions or limitations at all.
"As to the indies, they, too, are polling support for cuts (not specific ones, though, so that's the battle)." (FS)
Yes, but many of those Independents are Municipal workers, who are heavily invested in those defined benefit pension plans. SOMETHING has to be done, BUT we've should also look to cover those people who've already been tethered to those systems.

Chris Christie is a good example of a Conservative looking to save those systems by having those workers put in more toward their health care and pension plans.

Conservatives have to be prepared for the "political war" that the far-left and their media minions are set to unleash. You can bank on them looking to politicize even the most basic and obviously necessary cuts and Conservatives CAN'T insist (as previous Conservatives have) "that these sensible cuts will sell themselves".

What I'm saying, I suppose is that "the war" is just getting started, let's not forget the calumny and the shamelessness of the opposition we face.

Skunkfeathers said...

@FS: your read of my comments is faulty, but that's okay. I haven't missed a general or mid-term election since attaining voting age (when isn't impo'). I have been a proponent of learning by reading and studying, NOT by listening to TV/radio ads. I attended Tea Party events and was, on the whole, in favor of much of what they advocated.

Sadly, not quite enough voters in CO were as dedicated to getting it right as I was, but I digress.

My skeptical 'tude remembers well the '94 election, the early successes, and then the gradual DC corrosion of the resolve of the Republican Party, which led to their falling apart in '06 and '08.

My message is that I will hold the newly-empowered Republican House to what they ran on to win. Words mean things. So do principles and ethics. I hold Democrats to the same standards, knowing they will utterly fail to meet them, as they have demonstrated, time and again.

I don't know where YOU'VE been, but it hasn't been within miles of me or what I've been doing, thinking, saying. And when the great middle of the electorate are as stringent in telling the elites AND the hand-out class to pound sand, I will be right there. There are still too many disengaged, disinterested in the middle. I await '12 with great interest.

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