Once again rhetoric takes center stage rather than substantial issues. These days it is impossible to actually understand the issues facing our nation because the waters are so muddied over corporate sponsored pseudo news and slanted op-eds. We’ve heard things like “tea party extremists” are responsible for the government shut down that would endanger people’s lives. Rep. Norton of Washington D.C. said that it was akin to the “bombing of civilians“.
Obviously, shutting down the government is not a good thing, despite the joking comments that some republicans have been making. However, these days there really isn’t much room for humor unless it’s gallows humor, because our nation’s collective neck really is on the chopping block. The serious senators and congressmen have been attempting to make headway to address the problem, but it seems that the rank and file just fall in line with the party standards on these big issues by bickering over fractions of a percent.
I appreciate the approach that Sen. Rand Paul has been taking. As a libertarian I like his mature voice in dealing with these issues. He even suggested a contingency plan where all employees will get 75% of their salary in the event that a budget wasn’t passed, but all members of congress would get 0% until a budget was passed (no back pay either). The controlled right and left have heated arguments over which entitlement will get cut but nobody really addresses the problem. I have been reading the mainline talking points for years about raising taxes, cutting taxes, increase spending, cut spending. But what about drawing down the military forces? Everyone nods their head that it would be good, but as soon as they get in the room together it goes right back to the same old thing. We need to be demanding that our representatives BEGIN the conversation with ending the wars or at the very least, begin closing bases and pulling back our military from non-essential points. Our foreign policy treats these bases in countries like Germany as jumping off points should we wish to invade someone in the future. We currently have 78,000 personnel stationed in Europe. The creations of Nato and UN have not made anyone safer or more secure and we keep creating new agencies to wage war and erode our civil liberties. The hundreds of billions of dollars that would be saved by demilitarization annually would be able to fund all the improvement projects we could want in this country. Among the cuts to the budget is $1.5 billion for high speed rails. If I can think of anything worth keeping it should be an investment to our crumbling infrastructure that will generate revenue. And beside not being able to afford it, we have no constitutional mandate for an empire.
The hypocrisy of the debate is unfathomable. The economy has been decimated by wall st., banks foreign and domestic. Faulty government agencies are plagued with compromised regulators who are too close to the industries they police. Should we increase taxes? Are corporations already paying too much? The answer is yes and yes. Companies like GE already pay a tax rate of 0% and Google pays a mere 2.4%. That’s not helping matters, especially since many other small companies in this country are actually paying a tax rate well over the official 40% once all the fees and mandates are taken care of, where the rest of the world’s average is at 25%. That doesn’t leave much room for growth, does it? Well I doubt you’ll see much change in that department, since GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt is the chairman of Obama’s economic advisory committee and Google CEO Eric Schmidt is rumored to become the commerce secretary after his stint at Google is over in April. The problem there is that the Obama administration is so full of compromised individuals that it’s akin to a band of pirates being hired as an armored transport service for a bank.
People need to stop allowing themselves to be played against each other. Are the teachers union demands higher than free markets can provide? Yes, but by itself it certainly won’t fix the problem we face as a country. Are social security recipients getting more than the system can afford? Yes, but we can’t fix that in one fell swoop, especially after they’ve paid into it their whole lives. Can we stop medicaid, medicare and food stamps in a depression? Most definitely not. But we can stop fighting wars that only make more enemies and kill civilians, policing the world and bribing dictators with billions under the guise of foreign aid. What about the banks who caused the economic crisis with derivatives and other reckless instruments who are now making record profits and offshoring all of their wealth? What about the sweetheart tax rates for the oil companies that allowed the top 5 to earn $1 TRILLION during the past decade during a time when people can’t afford to fill their gas tanks? Here at home we can close the tax loopholes for large corporations and lower the overall rate since we now have the highest corporate tax in the world. More payers even at a lower rate will yield much higher returns. This will fix the revenue problem the democrats have been harping over.
In addition, over time we should end or reduce the roll that federal departments play in state’s governance. The Department of Education should be abolished as it only serves to write propaganda for school text books and has watched as our world ranking in education slides steeply (25th out of 70 in math!?). The department of energy has reigned over a skyrocketing cost of energy and is a dismal failure and the FDA and Department of Agriculture has done nothing but lower our nutritional standards and allow corporations like Monsanto to reign supreme by creating franken-food monstrosities in their laboratories.
These departments cost the taxpayers billions upon billions of dollars and provide almost nothing as a return on investment. You don’t have to be a CEO to see that’s a bad deal. Once you’ve looked at the whole picture, cutting $500 billion from the budget as Rand Paul has suggested doesn’t seem too bad.