Apparently not. I was reminded of the infamous words uttered by Rodney King after his beating by LA Police caused massive riots in the city. (Rodney, by the way was arrested again on July 13th for suspicion of DUI. ) After watching the politicians “debate” the debt ceiling increase it’s becoming increasingly clear that none of our “leaders” deserve much respect.
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Debate should entail a meaningful exchange of ideas. Debate in government should entail a meaningful exchange of ideas that reach an outcome that is better for those that are being governed. Unfortunately our politicians look at debates as opportunities to further their political ambitions to the detriment of the general population. If you take away anything from the current “crisis of our own making” it should be that all incumbents should be voted out of office. The Tea Party increasingly looks like a group of far right loons. The Republicans look like spineless wimps who continuously fail to recognize that they are also part of the problem and not the solution. The Democrat party, well, they just don’t get it when it comes to rightsizing government programs. They’re all wrong, but they just can’t admit it.
Is there a right answer? Yes, of course there is. But, that answer would be quite painful for all involved. But, in this era of shoot first and ask questions later, it doesn’t seem to matter that everyone, right or left, is in for some major pain in the years ahead. The Left believes that raising taxes and making cuts is the solution. The Right believes that making cuts only is the solution. Where is the middle? It’s non-existent. In a nutshell, here’s our problem: There are not enough people working today that can support the massive social agenda that is our legacy. Social safety nets are just that, safety nets for the poorest of the poor in our society. Yet, for many they have become the ultimate free ride. Does someone retiring with a million dollars in assets really need social security? The answer is Yes, but only because he paid into the system and thinks that he should be paid back out of fairness. If he didn’t pay in, then he would expect nothing back out. Maybe that’s part of the solution.
Instead of forcing the “wealthy”, those that make over $250,000 to pay into the system, they should be allowed to opt out. That would raise the burden on social security for those who want or need the safety net, with obvious exclusions of course for those who are truly unable to contribute. The problem is that one does not know if he will be wealthy when it comes time to retire. Everyone felt pretty wealthy in 2007, but many felt quite poor in 2008/2009. The solution is to “means test” at the time of retirement. Those who qualify get the payments. Those who don’t – well they should get a reward as well, maybe not the full amount, but a significant token that shows some appreciation for their contribution. Maybe a lowered tax rate on their estate or on capital gains.
My point is that the government should be trying to find creative ways to solve problems that are not going away. Instead they are finding creative ways to lie about problems that are getting bigger by the day.
The United States is in a difficult position today facing slow growth, low revenues and increasing outflows. We’re not Greece yet, but given enough time and the people that we have elected to power, we will be Greece soon enough.
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