Monday, February 14, 2011

Eat The Future

I stole the title from Paul Krugman, who used it for a pretty good op-ed piece in today’s New Your Times. His puckish sense of humor showed when he said that, “Republicans don’t have a mandate to cut spending; they have a mandate to repeal the laws of arithmetic.” Actually, Republicans repealed the laws of arithmetic many years ago, and Democrats don’t even know what arithmetic is.

I would take a little bit of issue with him targeting the Republicans, because Obama’s budget, for all of its “investment in the future,” does a good bit of the same type of thing, but certainly the Republican side is a great deal more aggressive about it.

He does say one thing that struck me as rather disturbing, seemingly giving the voting public and media a free pass and exempting them from blame.

How can voters be so ill informed? In their defense, bear in mind that they have jobs, children to raise, parents to take care of. They don’t have the time or the incentive to study the federal budget, let alone state budgets (which are by and large incomprehensible). So they rely on what they hear from seemingly authoritative figures.

He goes on to say that politicians lie a lot, which is both true and incredibly obvious. So democracy is less important than jobs, raising children and taking care of parents? Being busy with all of that quite properly removes your incentive to pay attention to what your elected officials are actually doing, as opposed to what they are saying? Really?

What role does he give to the media in all of this? Of course the media does not see itself as a guardian of truth. As David Gregory said regarding the function of holding politicians to the truth, of revealing their dishonesty when they utter untrue statements, “That’s not our role.” Which rather leaves me wondering what the hell he thinks their role is.

To me, though, Krugman does what too many with a public voice do, he gives a free pass to the voting public. They are busy, he says, they don’t have time to hold their elected representatives accountable. But that’s the voters' job. If they won’t do it, who will? If voters don’t hold elected officials accountable, then they are not accountable. If elected representatives are not accountable then we do not have democracy at all; we have oligarchy.

Republicans aren’t eating the future; voters are.

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