Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Birthdays And Old Age

I didn’t “celebrate America’s greatness” yesterday because I don’t really see this nation doing much of anything to deserve that label. We’re old and worn out; barely functional. We've had it too good for too long, are taking it for granted, and don't seem to feel that we should have to pay for it. We’re fighting a lot of wars, but I’m not sure that would be a cause for celebration of greatness even if we were winning those wars, which we are not. We aren’t building anything. Our economy is unable to sustain our population.

Adam L. Silverman summed it up at Sic Semper Tyrannis yesterday, when he described the state of our nation thusly,

Our real problem today, though, is that our ability to govern ourselves is breaking down. Rather than recognizing that government can, and when necessary should, do certain beneficial things for everyone - what we call delivering public goods, we have degenerated into a citizenry that is poorly informed, often poorly educated on the most important issues, contemptuous of expertise and the education that goes with it, and convinced that government is the problem. And a good chunk of our elected officials seem determined to prove that government is good for nothing and should therefore be down sized if not gotten rid of (all while enjoying government pay checks, health care, and retirement - kind of makes one wonder). There was a time where American government was part of the solution. America's infrastructure was the marvel of the developed world - our interstate highway system, our bridges and tunnels, the rail roads, our airports and sea ports, and our power grids and sewer systems. These were not built with private dollars, they were built as public investments, as public goods, so that private investments could flourish. Today many have been sold off, and often not to the highest bidder, and they are crumbling, and they are no longer a shining example to the rest of the world, but rather something between a sad joke and the example of what happens when a society decides to consume itself. So government is not the problem, just as it is not always the solution, but our real problem is bad government, bad governance, and bad elected and appointed officials, as well as an uninformed and not particularly inquisitive citizenry, and a news media designed to make money, not to help overcome the problems of low and bad information. Our social contract is frayed and the wisdom of those who wrote it fails us even as it and they are venerated to new heights.

The liberal defense of Obama is not that he will make this country better, or that he will serve the interest of the people, but that he will do less damage to the people’s cause than will any Republican who might replace him. He will tax the rich in order to cut fewer services to the middle class, and he will cut Medicare without harm to the people who depend on it for their health care. We actually seem to believe that he will eliminate $100 billion in Medicare spending without harm to the people it serves, because he has told us that the alternative is a “Ryan plan” that will eliminate it altogether.

Are we seriously going to fall for “eliminate waste and fraud” yet again?

We used to pretend that the voters in this country were voting in their own interest, now even the Democrats no longer pretend to be a people’s party. Illusion is gone and our election is not a choice about what’s best for us, but merely who is the least destructive politician. Obama is not what we want, but at least he’s not as bad as the other guy. Modern democracy in action.

No comments:

Post a Comment