When we last talked, we discussed middle-of-the-road issues like having a balanced federal budget during normal economic times, and balancing the inevitable deficits during the bad times, like now, with surpluses during the good. We also discussed the factual impossibility of paying off our national debt while continuing to “borrow” our nation’s money from private bankers who create it out of thin air.
Since there weren’t any significant challenges to the column on the Daily Republic website, and no angry letters to the editor calling me bad names, I’m guessing we’ve found common ground. This week, let’s continue our quest for agreement.
American politics is currently defined by our two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Even though I can’t remember ever praising Democrats, I get a lot of flak from emails, Daily Republic commenters and from a certain newspaper editor about my occasional attacks on Republicans and fringe-right tea partyers.
In the online conversation that followed Jack Batson’s March 10 column, “Tea party adherents unwitting shock troops of plutocrats,” Brian Thiemer commented: “Why do you two feel that the misuse of the ‘system’ is isolated to Republicans/tea partyers? Even when you admit that ‘Democrats to a lesser extent’ are complicit in this manipulation, they are given a pass. Your ‘only right-wingers are guilty’ undertones belie the fact that the threat to the people is not a left-right paradigm, it is a top-down paradigm.”
In our quest for common ground, it’s fair to say that Democrats and Republicans agree on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but we’re endlessly bedeviled by the details. We all seem to agree that we should be protected from harm by foreign invaders, criminals, pollution and shoddy products and services; we agree that government should invest in roads, dams, bridges, water and sewer systems, and an electrical grid; and all but heartless social Darwinists see the need for supportive services for those of us who need a helping hand.
The left-right paradigm concentrates on spirited “how much” questions like: How much should we help the needy, how much should we spend on defense and how much should we pay in taxes to finance those goals?
Brian’s “top-down paradigm” could be the Libertarian complaint that government shouldn’t be telling citizens what they can and cannot do. That conversation concerns our “social contract,” our understanding and acquiescence to the rules necessary to ensure 300 million diverse people can live together relatively peacefully in one country. That too, is the subject of many thoughtful “how much” conversations.
But there is also another, more profound top-down paradigm, as discussed in Jack Batson’s column: The wealthy versus the rest of us.
Our government is becoming more and more controlled by the wealthy and their corporations, to the endless distress of everyone else. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about the influence of the military-industrial complex back in 1961, yet we continually fight pointless wars without end. Corporate executives fill the upper echelons of all government regulatory agencies, entering and exiting through highly greased revolving doors. Bankers control both the Federal Reserve and our U.S. Treasury Department, giving themselves bailouts and converting trillions in toxic mortgages from private woes into public debt.
Now, unlimited political donations have, more than ever, meant that “our” government representatives speak less and less for us, and more and more for them.
It’s time American voters started another “how much” conversation: How much of “our” government should money be able to buy? Being a middle-of-the-roader, I stand with you, Fairfield, the 99.99 percent, and I will continue to point out trends, politicians and legislation that’s harmful to our interests.
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.