October 12, 2013
After coming to the brink by way of acrimony and the self-pleasuring of a 21 hour fake filibuster but then, at the last minute not jumping off, the tea-party wing of the Republican party, led by a new senate self-promoter, Ted Cruz (R-TX), now anticipates a January debt-limit re-run. So how and why— and what are the rest of us anyway, chopped liver?
Brilliant as the men who founded the US may have been, no one’s perfect. Having had great distrust in government they went ahead and established one anyway simply because they knew that having hundreds of thousands of free-range individuals running around with muskets and mules, plotting lethal mischief in pursuit of their own best interest— well, (note to libertarians) it’d be a jungle out there.
Putting aside for the moment the fact that even with rules it’s a jungle out here, the founders crafted their system as thoughtfully as they could to counter the natural inclination of creatures to survive by any means possible no matter what harm it might cause to others. But even enlightened as they were the founders refused to deal with, or simply chose to justify, some of the cruel and ruthless practices of god’s most successful predator, Man —practices such as the enslavement of Africans or the attempted extermination of North America’s native people. Forgetting those moral failures (but just for the sake of tackling our present circumstances), they did their best to create a system of self-government that would not be top-down, but bottom up. But the overturning of that endeavor was finally accomplished and ratified a year or so ago by the US Supreme Court in its infamous Citizen’s United ruling that government influence could legally be purchased by the richest and most powerful bidders.
As present conditions prove, nobility of spirit is obviously not necessary in the practice of any government. A politically motivated US government shutdown is within reach of any faction which decides that its idea trumps the majority view. But, to their credit the founders gave it their best shot and actually did better than many before them. Being smart, crafty, and savvy to the fact that crooks and liars will relentlessly try to grab and hold as much political ground as they can, they created a system with as many checks and balances as they could devise: three co-equal branches —the executive, legislative and judicial— each keeping an ostensible eye out for the general good. Each keeping each other in line. Each watching for the feint, the fib, the over-reach —and further, staggered election cycles for the three branches, varying term lengths, etc.
But nobody’s perfect. Even Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had their visionary shortcomings. Even Alexander Hamilton and John Adams were unable to see far enough into the future to imagine the near complete collapse of individual integrity of officials in the face of staggering corporate bribes; could not imagine their willingness —no, their hope for the opportunity— to be corrupted. They couldn’t foresee the election of statesmen so acquisitive, so greedy, that they would threaten the common good of the nation to feather their own nests. And, finally, they did not imagine a legislature of men and women so willfully ignorant and devoid of common sense that they would allow their personal agendas and superstitions to drive the nation into the ground.
Long story short , the founders did not plan for this demise of statesmanship because they couldn’t imagine such unashamed greed and stupidity in high positions. But, to be fair to those men, this failure took more than two centuries to come to full fruition. It took over two hundred twenty-five years of creeping decadence for public corruption of government officials to become so blatantly obvious and accepted in official, elite circles.
But here were are with a clear view of a dangerous structural flaw built into our so thoughtfully devised governmental system, our so-called Democratic Republic —now we see the fly in the ointment; the bug in the program. Now we know that a small faction of one party in one half of one of our three branches may control the actions of one man (the Speaker of the House) and force him to jam a monkey wrench into the wheels of government to stop it cold for political advantage despite the obvious wishes of the majority. In a parliamentary democracy the Republican party would have lost a vote of confidence by now and be looking for new work extorting somebody else.
So there it is Tom and John and Alexander and James. Your brilliant system is at the mercy of, among others, a crass, narcissistic Texan named Ted Cruz, a spineless crocodile weeper named John Boehner, Speaker of the House, a conclave of Ayn Rand cultists led by men like Paul Ryan, a few callous backbiters such as Michelle Bachmann who blasphemously call themselves Christians and an uncompromising gaggle of anti-democrats who for the moment at least feel the reins of power in their fists. It’s too bad, gentlemen, that you lacked the vision to realize that someday statesmanship would have run its course in the USA and the greed flag would be proudly run up the flagpole of the nation’s capital.
Who woulda thunk? But it’s ok, it’s not your fault, nobody’s perfect.
by Jim Culleny
for the West County Independent
October 8, 2013
“ We have in my household budget, some bills that have to be paid and some bills that only paid partially.”
“Let’s see,” said the Treasury Secretary from behind a pile of bills, “this month I think we’ll pay Japan and, hmmm, China. Yeah, China. But we’ll just send each a partial payment this month since things are kind of tight what with the sequester and all. They’ll understand. Why just last week I asked my plumber if he could give a few weeks extension on his last invoice. He said, ‘Sure’, so I’m sure China and Japan will understand.”
“We’re going to have to slide on the old folks this month, though. We have a subsidy payout to Exxon-Mobile coming up and that can’t wait. Those guys will have me knee-capped if I try stiff them.”
“OK, Social Security checks on hold for a few weeks until we catch up. And, oh, school lunches …ok, well, we’ll just let them eat Tasty Cakes until Agri-biz subsidies are paid. The kids’ll love that! Don’t want Monsanto poisoning my tea.”
“And maybe I’ll have the wife cook up a pot of soup to send down to the senior center to tide them over until those Tea-party thugs let Boehner off his leash and permit him to let the whole House vote to take us off shut-down —but it’ll be cold day in hell till that happens I suspect. They’ve really got his balls in a sling over there,” he said with a wry smile. “He was weeping in the rotunda again just yesterday.”
“Ok, who else do we have to pay before some irate nation calls in a collection agency or some persuader from the Russian mafia?” he said. “That Putin can get pretty ugly I hear.”
“Isn’t this much better than having to pay all our creditors at once,” the secretary continued, nodding to the president. “Running national finances is just like keeping a household, but with more zeros, excellent health insurance and the possibility of global economic collapse…”
by Jim Culleny
October 7, 2013
If, on the world economic stage the US is seen as financially unstable and unreliable due to a structural flaw in its system (the one being amply demonstrated by Republicans), how long do you think we’ll retain our economic status? And once lost how long, if ever, will it take to regain it.