I’m starting to see a trend in the way our government operates:
Step 1: Do nothing for a few months.
Step 2: Recognize a looming problem. Sell it as a crisis that is the biggest threat to our well-being ever.
Step 3: Rush through legislation which has drastic fundamental consquences on the future of our country without much deliberation, public discussion, debate, or any kind of open forum for ideas.
Step 4: Use the successful or failed (both are claimed to be true) resolution of the “crisis” in the next election to raise money.
Wars (like Iraq and Afghanistan) are an especially clear example of this, however, the current debt ceiling crisis is another tragic example. I don’t yet know the outcome of the private meetings between Obama and the key political figures involved, but I do know that the lives of millions of Americans will be affected by the inevitable cuts in treasured programs and the inevitable tax reform.
These are important and difficult public policy questions, and yet the American people are not involved in any real sense, because the span of time over which options are weighed is weeks (even days), not years.
The uprising of people in Egypt has inspired the parts of the world that strongly believe in government for the people and by the people.
While it certainly inspired me, I can’t say I felt any deep connection to the Egyptian people. The protests in Wisconsin, on the other hand, hit close to home. Their new governor, Scott Walker, pushed a plan to cut public worker pay by 7% and more importantly drastically reduce the collective bargaining rights of the public-sector unions.
I heard a few liberal pundits say this week that this is an attack on the Democratic party since unions are one of their primary financial supporters. While this may be true, it’s irrelevant to me, since politics is ugly on all sides. What is relevant is the fact that this plan is an attack on the middle class. The idea that the “free market” should decide the wages of the worker is a blind disregard of human rights, of the minimum standard of living required for a healthy stable society, of the kind of ideals this country was made into a superpower on in the 20th century. Unions have their bureaucracy, their corruption, their inefficiencies, so does any organization. Their ideal is noble and in my opinion an effective mechanism for giving some power to the otherwise powerless.