Americans are a thrifty lot—and we have the expressions to prove it. Ben Franklin coined what is probably the best known: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And if he were to appear on the current scene, he would be the first to agree that the American people are being robbed by their government.
In irony, it has been said that we have the best government money can buy. But that is true only for the lobbyist. The public at large is painfully aware of what our government is costing us—programs, wars and tax cuts that have driven up the deficit, and a refusal by Congress to come to a budget agreement, causing the first ever downgrade of our national credit rating. And that is not to mention our government’s culpability in the failure of our regulatory agencies to foresee and forestall the failure of our banking system, causing the average American citizen the loss of 40% of his net worth. “The stunning drop in median net worth—from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010—indicates that the recession wiped away 18 years of savings and investment by families.”
There is public outrage. Such grassroots movements as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have given voice to widespread concerns, but the message goes largely unheeded. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a voice crying in the wilderness. His message is sound, but few of his colleagues are listening. Perhaps the problem is that enough of us aren’t listening—or at least responding.
Much has been made of the fact that following the 2010 Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United, the airwaves have been dominated by political messages, most of which are negative and many of which are also misleading. Yet, they have been shown to be effective in influencing people’s opinions and actions.
But we know better! Few people are so naïve as to take as gospel truth something solely because it appears on their favorite news channel. What doesn’t happen enough is for citizens to spend the time and effort to read and watch a spectrum of print and electronic media as a basis for political judgments. There is a reason why freedom of the press is guaranteed by the First Amendment and why democracy is so slow to take root in countries where news and commentary are controlled by the government. Do we ignore a freedom so sacred that men and women in different parts of the world are willing to die to maintain it?
Money undeniably equals influence in our society. But powerful as it is, we still have access to reality—maybe not in the mainstream media, but certainly in the multiplicity of independent blog sites and print media. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it provides the basis to make intelligent decisions in the voting booth—virtually our only weapon.
An old friend told me he believes in term limits for elected officials—one term in office followed by a term in jail. I thought he was a bit extreme—but our current political stalemate calls for extreme measures. The focus of this website, has been on corruption and inaction in our government, particularly in Congress, where legislators spend most of their time raising money to finance their next elections. So, they get reelected (most do), but their constituents get the shaft—read about the Political Theater of the 112th Congress—a tragedy, not a comedy. Why do we keep returning these guys to office when they take their instructions from billionaire lobbyists?
An election is before us. Let’s shake things up! If voting somebody out of office is the only way to get his attention, let’s do it! I’m thinking primarily of men and women in leadership positions who arrogantly dictate party policy with no concern for the needs of their constituents. If we send Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan packing, it has to get the attention of not just the House but also the Senate. None of our elected officials is beyond the reach of the voters! Let’s take back our government now! When the 113th Congress opens, let’s see that we get more bang for our buck!
This is the first of several articles, titled The Perfect Storm, dealing with how our government is failing the American people. The average American citizen lost 40% of his net worth in the 2008 recession as noted above. The next few articles will explore how the checks and balances established between the judicial, executive and legislative branches have been eroded and what can be done to restore them.
What can you do—you are only one person? True, but you are only “six degrees of separation,” on average, from any other person on Earth. You become powerful when you share information with your friends and ask them to share it with their friends—it becomes a global revolution. As Stephen King suggests in The Long Walk, when these “society-supported sociopaths” come, step aside, and find the strength to run…