… the President’s proposed budget challenges us to revisit some very basic assumptions regarding the role of government…
At one end of the spectrum is the position that government exists to provide principally and primarily – if not exclusively – for our common defense and security. At the other end of spectrum is the position that government has a primal role in providing for our common good and a responsibility to take care of the poor.
Both of these positions are valid and merit thoughtful consideration.
However: Neither extreme seems to have workout too well in real life situations. The first has led to chaotic cultural disarray and rampant uncontrollable poverty – think the U.S. before the Great Depression. The other is infected with and leads to inefficiency and mismanagement of epic proportions – think any communist country before the fall of the Berlin Wall – or Cuba today. Both extreme lead to authoritarian systems.
They survive only when information is controlled and the few get richer at the expense of the masses. In rampant capitalism the masses are conned into the addiction of the opium of entertainment, materialism and extreme religion. In centralist communism the masses are forced fed the opium of false collectivism, acceptance of scarcity, and embracement of extreme ideology.
Beyond the philosophical debates, here we are in the good U.S. of A debating a proposed budget submitted by the President that would increase military defense at the expense of all else. Proposed cuts to social service program run deep. The examples are endless. Deep cuts to food stamps; deep cuts to government funded help for seniors and the disabled, on and on… All in the name of efficiency, streamlining a bloated federal bureaucracy, and resetting our priorities.
And, much of it explained away by alleging that there is waste in the existing system. (Some of us inside the system would argue that it is not so much waste as redundancy and inherent inefficiencies – if measured by private sector standards.)
It is as if Republicans want to shine a headlight on the bad apples (the few cases of voter fraud, the few folks taking advantage of the system), while Democrats want to discuss the plight of those relatively few disenfranchised at the fringes (the transgendered, the disabled.) The Republicans have little patience – and are simply do not care to pay the price – to accommodate the needs of these special populations. The Democrats have little patience for the idea that helping the rich will eventually help the poor.
The Republicans want the government out of the charity business. The Democrats want the government to steward the charity business.
> Can a robust charitable system replace government assistance? Can – in the USA – charities exist without being exempt from paying taxes, including the exemption from taxes of their vast physical plants and land?
> Why are we subsidizing the best off among us – homeowners – with the mortgage deduction?
> How come some believe that alleviating the tax burden of corporations will ‘lift all boats’, thinking that the private sector can invest funds in economic growth better than the government can distribute tax revenues through social programs?
Heavy questions… Unfortunately any attempt at a sensible debate in Congress on these philosophical / governance topics will be drowned by partisan memes, simplistic headlines, and the growing complete and total distrust of the capacity of our elected officials the govern, the growing complete and total distrust of the capacity of the press to report facts, and – most dangerous – the growing complete and total distrust of those other Americans that don’t think like us.
Ah, but do not despair! There remains a critical mass of folks – at all sides of the issues – that are willing to discern, debate, dialogue, and discuss… Most of these folks already agree on one thing: This President is not only a disruptor, but is also increasingly dysfunctional… His credibility is shot. His – and his team’s – capacity to lead is shattered.
We gotta work around him, not with him.