September 16, 2010
Fairy Tales Which Are True!
WRIGHT, Wyoming (SmallTownPapers) -- Let's Increase the National Debt. Did you just read that and scream in outrage? As unbelievable as it may seem, the Republicans in Congress this very day are proposing to add $4 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years. Yes, you read that right. The Republicans are fervent to add $400 billion a year to the national debt. The Democrats aren't much better. Instead of the Republican proposal, the Democrats propose adding "only" $3 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years.
The issue is whether to extend the Bush era tax cuts. Republicans insist it must be done up and down the line to preserve the nation's economy and maybe create jobs. The Republicans are saying that about a proposal to increase the national debt by $4 trillion over the next ten years! The Democrats want to extend the Bush era tax cuts, but only for those making $250,000 or less a year. In other words, those making over $250,000-all four or five of you in that income category in Wright stand up and wave, please?will go back to paying the taxes they were when George W. Bush took office (and we last had a balanced budget.) If those tax cuts for those making under $250,000 are not extended, it will increase my taxes just under $1,000 a year. I earn less than the average income in Wright, so most of you can figure you have as much or more on the line.
Tax cuts are good, right? Yes, but. Tax cuts without corresponding decreases in spending increase the national debt. In arguing to extend the Bush tax cuts, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are arguing to decrease even a penny of expenditure. While they would just as soon step around it that leaves both the Republicans and the Democrats arguing to increase the national debt. Let's not forget: we had a balanced budget until the Republicans instituted those tax cuts which led to budget shortages, piling up national debt. In this case, the Republicans are arguing to pile up even more national debt than the Democrats?and ain't that a kick in the pants? Of course if those tax cuts were simply allowed to expire, the result brings down the national debt by $4 trillion over the next ten years...but that means you and I would pay more taxes in order to pay down the national debt. In my case, that will border on $1,000 a year more I would pay in taxes?and you will be somewhere in that range or more so. So do we fear the national debt more or loathe paying taxes more? It is one or the other.
Mourning an Unrealized Ideal. It is quite easy to find columnists, including me, who lament the lack of civility in our nation today. We pine for a time when we were more civil in our behavior with one another. As a historian, I have to admit that we just might actually be more civil toward one another now than ever before?may God have mercy on us! In 1804 the Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr killed former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel. At the time, "gentlemen" considered it a matter of principled honor to engage in duels. In 1856 South Carolina U. S. Senator Preston Brooks took his heavy walking cane to beat Massachusetts U. S. Senator Charles Sumner nearly to death?in the Senate chambers. Brooks had considered challenging Sumner to a duel but was persuaded Sumner was of a lower social caste, unfit for the gentlemanly engagement of a duel. Brooks pinned Sumner beneath Sumner's desk and continued beating him until other Senators pulled Brooks off. Sumner was so severely beaten that it took three years for him to recover. Things are definitely better than that today although there is no hesitation against destroying the character of those with whom anyone disagrees. It is not enough to attack a person's contrary ideas. Anyone with a contrary point of view has to be attacked as a person unfit for inclusion in humanity.
There is a cost to such incivility. Consider the comments of another historian, John Gurda. He was writing about the state of affairs in Wisconsin, but by eliminating only a couple of words, his remarks are true for the nation as a whole. He himself observed that later in his article. "The bitterly partisan tenor. discourages people of intelligence and equanimity from getting involved." There is a political divide in our nation characterized by "the I'm right and you're nuts school of political discourse that seems endemic." Politics in the 21st century aims toward "the total subjugation of the opponent?rather than seeking the interests of the people."
Minority, Plurality and Majority. Some of that intransience stems from people sincerely believing that because they believe something, it means the majority of people believe likewise. "All right-thinking sane people believe as I do; all true Americans believe as I do." Even if it were the case the majority feels one way, there is the bothersome fact that a significant number of people believe otherwise. Thus this is a true statement: "At the time the health care reform law was enacted, polls showed the majority of people opposed it." This is a flat out lie: "All people opposed the health care reform law." Here is a true statement: Wyoming is a Republican state. This stretches the truth: "All people in Wyoming are conservative Republicans." Not even all Wyoming Republicans are conservatives. When all positions are taken into consideration, it is only a plurality of people in Wyoming who are conservative. The majority of Wyoming citizens are not conservatives but one would never realize that listening to political campaigns. Conservative positions win out because the conservatives do constitute a plurality. That's enough to get elected.
A person commented that a Tea Party demonstration represented the majority position in the nation. There well might be some hesitation claiming that, realizing the gubernatorial candidate in Wyoming backed by the Tea Party lost. Tea Party candidates have been successful in some partisan primary elections, often with multiple people on the ballot. Fact #1: all the voters in primary elections represent a fraction of the total number of voters. Fact #2: some primary voters were engaged in voting in party contests not involving a Tea Party candidate. Even in those few cases where there were only two primary candidates in the same party, one of whom was from the Tea Party, the majority of those who voted?voted for someone other than the Tea Party candidate. The real majority of voters did not vote in primary elections. That is a matter of simple math. If 100 people voted in the primary election, 50 in parties other than the Republican Party, and 26 of 50 who voted in the Republican primary voted for a Tea Party candidate, it is true the Tea Party candidate received the majority of Republican votes?and 74% of those who voted did so for someone other than the Tea Party candidate. Given the turnout for primary elections, if 100 people voted, somewhere around 300 did not vote at all. It stretches belief to claim any successful candidate in any primary campaign represents a majority when the overwhelming majority did not vote and the successful candidate received only a plurality of the votes that were cast. Even where the successful primary candidate has no opposition in the general election, maybe especially in that case, claims of "majority" support need to be tempered against the reality the overwhelming majority simply did not vote.
Copyright 2010 High Plains Sentinel, Wright, Wyoming. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.
© 2013 High Plains Sentinel Wright, Wyoming. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers.