Fix It!

Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner:

‘I’m frustrated, [and] my constituents are frustrated, because they see Washington doing the same exact thing,’ he said. ‘This was the most predictable crisis anybody could ever imagine. So, months ago we knew this was going to happen. It got closer, closer, closer and here we are now days away instead of months away and we’re talking about kicking the can down the road, and the American public, the constituents I represent, they’re tired of it. They want to see tax rates that are lower, not higher. They want to see a fair, flatter system that results in a better, competitive market place. And they want a fix. They don’t want a Band-Aid.’

Well of course they want a fix. Not just Gardner’s constituents in Colorado — but all Americans.

The problem is, they want a fix that isn’t possible.

Americans — the majority of them, reflected in the recent elections and every poll since — want the contradictory. They want spending cuts. However, they don’t want any spending that affects them personally cut. And they don’t want any spending that’s “probably a good idea” cut either. The result? No cuts. Only increases and new spending, all the time and as far as the eye can see.

They want taxes on the rich raised. But they don’t want any other taxes raised. They acknowledge even taxes on the rich might hurt the economy. They don’t want the economy hurt. “Whatever you guys do in Washington, don’t you hurt the economy!” But how are they to possibly NOT hurt the economy, if taxes are to be raised and spending to always and only be increased?

The heart of the problem are Medicare and Social Security — plus the new “Obamacare” spending still to come. Unlimited health care for everybody. No, most still don’t approve of Obamacare. Yet they voted for its most strident supporter — Obama. Why? Because Obama tells them, “We are all our brothers’ keepers.” Most people are taught to believe this, and while deep down most Americans don’t really practice it, they’re guilt-ridden enough to vote for it when it’s served up to them that way.

No, we say. I mean: yes. I mean: No!  We ARE our brother’s keepers but Obamacare is not a good idea. Fix this! How? You can’t reconcile the two. Obama is not conflicted. If it takes a dictatorship to give us what he deems “morality” requires — then so be it. Of course, we won’t call it a dictatorship. Dictators never do.

I find myself saying to clients at times, “You want contradictory things. You have to decide.” Or: “You don’t like your choices. But these are your choices. You can’t invent a new choice.” They don’t always like hearing this, but in the end they almost always accept it. And sooner or later, even if only by default, they go one way or the other. Why? Because contradictions cannot exist, not in reality. You can hold a contradiction in your mind, but you cannot make it true. Want to have a secret affair and still be, and feel, loyal to your spouse? Not going to happen. Want to snort cocaine and avoid legal and emotional problems? Not going to happen. Want to control your kids’ every move, bail them out of every disaster, and still expect them to develop self-esteem and act responsibly? It can’t be done.

People don’t always like accepting these unhappy and inconvenient truths. But on some level they understand.

It’s not happening in Washington DC, or in our national government (or many of our state governments, either). People still insist that politicians “work these things out.” The majority of us send them mixed messages. Cut spending, but not my spending — or most spending, for that matter. But cut spending. Fix it! Make the rich pay their “fair share” — whatever that means — but don’t hurt the economy. Create jobs, but don’t get rid of any of those regulations. Why? Because any regulation that seems like a good idea must be a good idea. Any regulation that even one “expert” or government official thinks is a good idea — well, it must be a good idea, then, and who am I to judge?

We are — not all of us, but the majority of us — a nation of noncritical thinkers. Sooner or later we apply this critical thinking to our personal lives. Unless we don’t have to do so, because someone out of guilt, misguided generosity, or control-freakism takes care of it all for us. Government has become all those things for a majority of people now. That’s why we have big government. Yes, it’s true that the government big enough to take care of everything is also big enough to take it all away. And Americans don’t want anything taken away. But you can’t have one without the other.

It’s fashionable for people on left and right to condemn the politicians. They are, on the whole, a pretty corrupt and rotten bunch. But they’re the symptom, not the problem. You can’t blame the termites or the roaches for your own negligence of your house. The same applies to our political situation today. The people allowed this mess to develop and build, and only the people can fix it. At present, there’s not the slightest chance of that happening.


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