Yesterday on National Public Radio (Texas Public Radio KSTX 89.1 fm) I heard a listener suggest to the NPR host that members of congress should be put through conflict resolution training. I agree. It’s unlikely but it is an idea.
Then again news personalities, even the lucid ones on PBS and NPR, have this notion that what we see happening in the congress today is somehow new and different. While I agree that when viewed in the context of very recent history, the last 30 years or so, the 112th Congress was "do nothing- dysfunctional", I must question, “what’s your point?” That “dysfunctional-do nothing” attitude has been more the norm rather than the exception in the history of this nation and certainly over the past thirty years.
Even before there was a “nation” there were deep schisms within what was then a largely Anglo-Saxon community. Think about it, when this nation was comprised of 13 odd, occupied and repressed colonies of Mother England there was jagged disharmony among its largely homogenous population. That alone tells you much.
To begin with just the notion of “revolution” two and a half centuries ago was for the fringe element. Actually engaging in revolution in mid 18th Century within a single people was counter-culture and radical.
So how did it all come about? Well, there were a few men(sorry ladies, women were mostly thought of then as property) who had a vested financial interest in getting out from under the shadow of Mother England.
The chasm, the yawning gap, the gulf between those who have and those who don’t was a deep, wide one indeed. And even the founders had no intention of changing that.
The problem then was how to enlist the ninety-nine percent to act as the law-enforcement, the military of, by and for the one-percent. Distraction, disingenuous rhetoric and co-opting bumper sticker slogans works and then there are always lies. We’ve seen lies used to get us into at least two military conflicts just in the last generation.
So why should any of the really significant discussion of how to divvy up the fiscal pie be any less disingenuous?
Not that there’s much to discuss. The one-percent, one-tenth of one-percent (a heady population of roughly 300,000 US citizens) by some accounts own it all. So what we the people are arguing over is how to divvy up less than two-percent of the total.
What does that mean? Well that means that a little more than 98 percent of the population has to find a way to divide up, live on and be happy with less than two percent of the total wealth of this nation.
Let me put that in easy to understand terms. Imagine that the total worth of the nation is one dollar. You know those ubiquitous pieces of green paper with pictures of dead presidents and founders on them. And there are 100 people in the room where this dollar is going to be divvied up. Hope you brought “change.”
When it comes time to sharing that one dollar, the discussion gets, well interesting. It’s what we’re witnessing in the congress. Right out of the chute, the one percent of the population gets a little more than 98 cents. Yes, that’s right one of the persons in the room would receive a little more than 98 cents. The other 99 persons in the room would have not quite two cents to divvy up among them.
That’s basically where we are today. Interestingly, that’s how it was for those living in the thirteen British colonies more than two and a half centuries ago as well.
Consider this, today 2013 only three percent of the US population makes $300,000 a year or more. Three percent of the population is roughly 9 million US citizens out of 300 million plus.
One-percent of the population equals three million people. These are the people who own just about everything in the US. They are in the driver’s seat. We go in the direction they say we go, when and if they say we go.
Put another way, one-percent of the population (3 million people) of this nation are worth more than half the population of this nation combined. Half the population of the US is 150 million of us, more or less.
It’s the reason at least half the US population lives paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to see a dentist on a regular basis, much less pay for adequate healthcare.
The fiscal “cliff” which is really little more than a slope given the numbers I just shared comes down to paying for what GOPers, conservatives and misanthropes label “entitlements” and taxes.
Entitlements being assistance to the “poor, the tired, the huddled masses yearning to live free.” That would include Medicare, Medicaid and any other benefit for the masses but not the subsidies to oil and gas, tax breaks for big tobacco, subsidies to the largest banks including JPMorgan Chase, and on and on and on.
The other side of the equation being that we as a nation have some debt to pay down. Debt is as historical to the US as violence.
However, we are approaching a point at which the debt can get out of hand.
So how did our intrepid congress deal with the “entitlements” and taxes on the one-percent? We’ll talk about next time.
Suffice to say for now that what the US is faced with is not so much a financial deficit as much as a leadership deficit.
Presently we are little more than a ruder-less paper boat adrift in an endless sea of unintended consequences.
We have no national leaders. We have only petty, selfish, opportunistic, partisan professional politicians serving the 1 percent, themselves and special interests.
It’s only as an afterthought that these ridiculous, ignorant and self-serving "public officials" consider the needs of the nation and its people. As for consideration for unintended consequences and the future---fugetaboutit!!
From Texas Red: a cratered landscape of prisons, deplorable apartheid public education, lack of healthcare and politicians and majority population intent on keeping it that way…