Monday, December 19, 2011
Too Much Government?
Yesterday, I watched an informative debate between Paul Ryan, Barney Frank, George Will and Robert Reich. ABC News' "This Week with Christiane Amanpour" and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia are partnering for "The Great American Debates," a series of debates on the key issues of the 2012 presidential campaign. This is going to be a series of events, which will last six weeks. Yesterday's debate was about “Too Much Government" and the panel consisted of two liberals and two conservatives and none on the panel and could be considered a moderate. I think this type of programming is great, but we will have to see in how well it does. I apologize for sounding like a skeptic, but I don't think the American public wants to be informed. They just want to stay in their ideological corners.
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin led off the discussion by saying that conservatives want smaller government, less regulation, less taxation allowing entrepreneurs to succeed in contrast to the Democrats who want more government in our lives. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts disputed the assertion. He said that we all want smaller government but what is too small or too large. This went on back and forth until President Clinton's former labor Secretary, Robert Reich, said that both parties want effective government, the size can be debated. If the government is too large, then corruption and incompetence will likely follow. If the government is too small, regulations will be ignored, and corruption and incidents will be widespread. Barney Frank brought out the old adage” conservatives want government out of the boardroom but into the bedroom" to which Paul Ryan answered" We just want to retain American values." Barney Frank is a brilliant, comical man with a short temper. He practically dominated the debate. He became a star in the Clinton impeachment hearings. Mr. Frank asked George Will why he was against decriminalizing marijuana. George Will said that he was still studying the consequences of decriminalization. Barney Frank replied “This issue has been out there for decades; you're 65 years old; what's taking you so long?"
The role of government is a favorite subject of mine because I saw the same conservatives' rail against health care, yet that's the first thing that we set up when we go overseas to occupy a country. The liberals who railed against President George W. Bush for his unconstitutional practices of circumventing our civil liberties are allowing this president to do the same when they allowed Congress to pass a law saying that the president of United States can declare a United States citizens an enemy combatant and sentence them to lifetime confinement without a trial. The leaders conveniently attached the amendment to the defense appropriation bill. What legislator would want to be in a political ad for being against funding for the troops? Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said that another amendment could be taken up later, extracting the words that allow the president so much power. We've all heard that before. It's like a temporary sales tax that never goes away. I'm all for increasing the safety of American citizens but not at the risk of taking away Americans civil liberties. For example, if I donated some funds to a nonprofit group which in turn funded a terrorist group; I would be in jeopardy of spending the rest of my life in Guantanamo Bay. Is that farfetched?
I think that we know what the free market will do if it goes unfettered, and it's going to take a decade or so to develop the trust in government it once had. I don't believe anyone thinks welfare is supposed to be a way of life but unfortunately for some, it will be. I don't want to wage war against the wealthy, but I do want them to step up and pay their fair share in proportion to their taxable income. In the words of Elizabeth Warren,(D-MA) "we are proud of the wealthy corporations, but they should also step up and pay a little more for the roads the taxpayer builds, repairs and the public education that the taxpayer provides their employees." Is at a liberal position or is it a position of fairness?
We have an enormous debt and deficit so it is obvious our government is too big, but now we have a debate on picking what goes and what remains. The counterarguments are usually opinions without sufficient data to back up their claims.
What's the solution? I don't really know, but I think I know a good starting place. I think that we need to take away all party labels at the local level. It doesn't matter if a Republican or Democrat sees to it that ditches and roads are maintained. In a city, this size the ideologues have already summed up their candidates ,as to whether they are conservative or liberal, but we don't have to contaminate the rest of the voting pool. It doesn't matter how one feels on abortion at the local level or that some think only conservative Republicans know how to take care the purse strings. That could be interpreted several ways, one being they would give up progress for a $1.25 cut in their property tax. Yes, we want prudent individuals but that comes from within ,not party ideology. Let’s leave partisan politics at the national level, because if we control it at the local and state level, it might become less polarized by the time they get to Washington.Come on now,if this political junkie (25 hours of political shows a week) thinks we are getting too political;it's time to do something....:-)
A little off topic but the lack of traffic at Vic Ad worries me because it's the place where I became interested in on- line journal discussions. A poster said many have turned to Facebook; I tend to agree but I'm not a member, so that’s just a guess. The people at VA say that this is a seasonal lull, perhaps, but I can't remember it lasting so long. There has only been seven comments since 7:00AM and it's now 2:45PM If this trend continues I believe the remaining old timers will not come back because there is no one to discuss a subject with....That leaves me with some options that I may not like because I don't know how lively the discussions can be on Facebook ,even thou my whole family loves Facebook and they have assured me that I won't be disappointed. Personal blogs are easier and because I don't have to take the extra step to make sure that my words are not misconstrued. I've heard that person information can go viral in a matter of seconds.I don't want that.