WAKE THE FUCK UP!

David and Shadra Bruce

Have you ever gone to the circus where they have those fun house mirrors? You know, the kind you stand in front of and it distorts your body all out of proportion. Right now, the Republican Party is as distorted as an image in a fun house mirror.

The leaders of the Republican party no longer represent standard Republican values and instead have been completely bought and paid for by wealthy corporations and SuperPacs who wield their money like swords, striking down any who would stand in the way of their greed.

2012-repugsWhile they tout small government, state rights, and the constitution, they pervert the foundation upon which this country was founded in order to protect their power base, seeing everyone as a disposable and consumable resource to be used to further their profits. This is not the Republican party of 1960; this is not the Republican Party of the 1970s, this is not the Republican Party of the 1980s.

This is the Republican Party of hate, war mongering, willfully lying, wantonly misrepresenting, hidden agendas, racism, and backwards thinking. We can’t help but wonder how nearly half the country can still be blindly faithful to this distorted version of what was once the party that championed the protection of the poor, the marginalized, and even the environment.

Samuel L. Jackson’s tongue-in-cheek story hour has a message, and while it’s a little rough around the edges for those who cringe at foul language, it is time to WAKE THE FUCK UP.

Voter Registration Deadlines for 2012 Presidental Election

Mississippi: Saturday October 6
Nevada: Saturday October 6
South Carolina: Saturday October 6
Alaska: Sunday October 7
Arkansas: Monday October 8
Hawaii: Monday October 8
Tennessee: Monday October 8
Washington: Monday October 8
 
OCTOBER 9
Arizona: Tuesday October 9
Colorado: Tuesday October 9
District of Columbia: Tuesday October 9
Florida: Tuesday October 9
Georgia: Tuesday October 9
Illinois: Tuesday October 9
Indiana: Tuesday October 9
Kentucky: Tuesday October 9
Louisiana: Tuesday October 9
Michigan: Tuesday October 9
Montana: Tuesday October 9
New Mexico: Tuesday October 9
Ohio: Tuesday October 9
Pennsylvania: Tuesday October 9
Texas: Tuesday October 9
Utah: Tuesday October 9
 
OCTOBER 10
Missouri: Wednesday October 10
 
OCTOBER 12
Idaho: Friday October 12
New York: Friday October 12
North Carolina: Friday October 12
Oklahoma: Friday October 12
 
OCTOBER 13
Delaware: Saturday October 13
 
OCTOBER 15
Virginia: Monday October 15
 
OCTOBER 16
Kansas: Tuesday October 16
Maine: Tuesday October 16
Maryland: Tuesday October 16
New Jersey: Tuesday October 16
Oregon: Tuesday October 16
West Virginia: Tuesday October 16
 
OCTOBER 17
Massachusetts: Wednesday October 17
Minnesota: Wednesday October 17
Wisconsin: Wednesday October 17
 
OCTOBER 19
Nebraska: Friday October 19
 
OCTOBER 22
California: Monday October 22
South Dakota: Monday October 22
Wyoming: Monday October 22
 
OCTOBER 23
Connecticut: Tuesday October 23
 
OCTOBER 26
Alabama: Friday October 26
 
OCTOBER 27
Iowa: Saturday October 27
New Hampshire: Saturday October 27
 
OCTOBER 31
Vermont: Wednesday October 31
 
North Dakota: No registration necessary

The Divided States of America

by David T. Bruce

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

~ John Donne

broken-u-sTraveling from Bath, New York to Seaside, Oregon and back again, exploring many points on the map in between, our family had the opportunity to discover the diversity of the United States. The spectacular shifting landscape was a constant reminder that Americans enjoy a variety of terrain: prairie, grassland, mountains and coastline. As we made our way to our destination points, my wife and I frequently prompted our children to set aside their music and their reading, directing their attention to the passing scenery. While Yellowstone National Park’s geysers and hot springs, Mount Rushmore, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis are alluring and obvious tourist attractions, the uncluttered, panoramic scenery that is America is equally stunning.

Our primary motivation for launching this partial tour of the United States was to visit friends and family from whom we have been separated for several years. However, the variety of people we met and the communities we passed by or visited along the way were as notable as the landscapes and the monuments of the country. Most of the people we encountered were friendly, making us feel welcome in their communities. There were also a small number of people who were quick to judge us because of where we were from, treating us rather offensively.

Part of what I tried to understand is that a bias preceded us based upon where we lived: New York State. At the same time, the oftentimes pervasive judgments hurt. We were trying to make friends across the country. We were trying to share a part of ourselves in the hopes that others would do likewise. Apparently, the social and political gaps that exist in our country are wide enough that bridging them is tricky.

In addition to those preconceptions we encountered, separating one community and one state from the next were billboards and other assorted signs that pronounced (or denounced) a particular faith, political party or leader. These public notices were not offensive, but they were suggestive in their proclamation that deviating from the given belief structure was inadvisable, or at least something to be kept hush-hush.

Coming into an election year, it occurred to me why we as a nation are so divided at the polls. What was evident from one part of the country to the next was the impression that each state or community was an island onto itself. Pride in ones self and in ones community is certainly commendable. I think we all have pride in where our respective families and cultures are rooted demographically and historically. The danger lies in cultivating a social environment rooted in self-importance.

Our nation has become one in which it is not enough to have the right to live as we want to live. We have become a nation in which many of us seek to stifle virtually any word, image or idea that is remotely opposing to a given vision of what may be defined as the truth. Political correctness has somehow become an expectation. Voicing new ideas or contrasting opinions has become at least something considered unethical, if not immoral or deviant.

I would like to think that our family has left those we met with a warm feeling and a positive impression of people that call New York State their home. We certainly enjoyed visiting the home states of others, finding that we have more in common than not with people across the country. Perhaps this election year, we may all benefit by focusing on those commonalities, without placing emphasis on what makes us different. We as a people are becoming too divided, and we are being diminished as a result.

Advertising May Work for Politicians but Politicians Aren’t Working for Us

by David T. Bruce

ethical-revolutionist-political-adsAdvertising works. Companies that want to remain relevant and profitable know this. They rely on the power of advertising. Large sums of money are invested to bring products to the attention of consumers; the level of advertising dollars spent purchasing mere seconds of time during a Super Bowl broadcast is phenomenal. As consumers, we are often impulse buyers.

We want to have what we believe are the finest and the most modern products, and we are quick to believe advertising claims and react to advertising campaigns by forking over cash for the latest must-haves.

The recent success of the Roku streaming player can be directly attributed to advertising. Sales of Roku players increased 25% in those markets in which the advertising campaign was launched. Radio and billboard advertising resulted in three times as much profit than the previous year. Advertising works.

As a quick-service (fast-food) restaurant manager, I witnessed the power of advertising. Radio and television ad campaigns regularly increased new product sales and overall sales. The ebb and flow of customer visits to the restaurant paralleled the beginning and ending of ad campaigns. Advertising works.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker crushed recall efforts that would have removed him from office. There is justifiable evidence illustrating that a considerable amount of out-of-state funding gave Walker the advantage over Barrett, as a result of “wall-to-wall television ads,” afforded by the significant flood of campaign funds. Advertising works.

Companies and politicians alike inundate consumers with media campaigns that suffocate, if not remove, the competition. That is their job.

As consumers, we have a job too.

Our job as consumers is to educate ourselves, check the facts and demand accountability. We do not have to accept what is put before us simply because one person or group has more money to promote their product or politics and squash the competition.

The golden arches of McDonald’s restaurant are said to be more familiar to the global consumer than the Christian cross. McDonald’s is undeniably a powerful force in the food industry; however, this does not mean that their product is necessarily good for the consumer. Even as they promote healthy choices, personal evidence suggests that what is perceived by the consumer is not reality.

Our family decided to grab lunch at a McDonald’s restaurant during one of our museum day-trips. In the effort to make a healthy choice, my wife and I ordered grilled chicken sandwiches with no mayonnaise. We had to wait several minutes for fresh chicken to be available, but because this can mean fresher product, we were patient. The chicken that was ultimately served to us, however, appeared undercooked and mushy. When we shared our concern with the manager, we were told that the chicken was consistent with what was ordinarily served and that the consistency was a result of the chicken being cooked in butter. The notion that a product advertised as healthy was handled in such a way that the end result was anything but healthy.

Recent figures show that Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney raised $17 million more in May than did President Obama. The Republican National Committee Chairman has been quoted as saying: “Our strong fundraising is a sign that Americans are tired of President Obama’s broken promises and want a change of direction in the White House.”

On the contrary, the strong fundraising and associated strength in advertising is a sign that the American consumer in general is characteristically buying what the Republican party is selling, simply because their coffers are potentially fuller than those of the competition.

American consumers are American voters. We must be sure that the advertised product from either Party represents reality. We must be sure that we make a healthy choice, and we must be sure that the choice we make has no hidden fillers or fats. Mitt Romney is not the better choice simply because he has more money to spread his message of hope or change from one coastline to the other.

Money and rhetoric are not substance. The proof is in the reality of the advertising claims. Mr. Romney may be the better choice. Roku may be a fabulous streaming player. A grilled chicken may have been the better choice. But these claims are not reality simply because their promoters have seemingly unlimited funds to spread their message.

It is just as likely that they are spreading something else, and voters as consumers must take the time to educate themselves and become conscious of what product our elected officials are selling and whether or not what they have to offer our nation is good for us.

If We Don’t Invest in Education, We Pay for Prisons

by David T. Bruce

Image courtesy of the NAACP; please click on the image to sign the NAACP petition to restore education funding
Image courtesy of the NAACP; please click on the image to sign the NAACP petition to restore education funding

Rick Santorum, as have many (if not most or all) Republican presidential candidates and elected officials, has strong opinions regarding the benefits of public education and higher education and the role of the federal government in the preservation and support of these institutions.  In particular, Santorum’s 2005 critique of the public schools in America continues to illustrate how the most economically and politically affluent citizens of this country are grossly ignorant of what it means to be a member of the lower- and middle-class in the United States.

Home schooling may certainly have benefits over a public school education, but a majority of Americans do not have the resources to effectively implement a home-school curriculum.  Public education services the majority, and indeed, public education needs an overhaul.  This does not mean, however, that our federal government should wash its hands of public education, leaving states to their own devices as they would like to do with medical programs.  If our states are truly united, then our education system should be united, a program implemented that provides uniform education to all students, not merely to those who live with families who can afford the very best education.

Santorum argues that the environment in which a uniform education is afforded provides an unrealistic image of “what life is like.”  I am unsure of what frame of reference Mr. Santorum has in regards to public education and “what life is like” for the majority of Americans, but many public schools are those in which various socioeconomic groups are represented, and few of them will ever realize “what life is like” for Santorum.

Over 1.2 million students drop out of school every year, according to research data provided by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.  Of those students, approximately half of them are African-American and Latino students.  This report illustrates what life is like for the 90% of American children who rely on public education, while their government leaders suggest that less intervention by the federal government is mandated.

Mr. Santorum speaks as poorly of higher education in America, citing the perceived rejection of religious faith by students who go into college.  Santorum and all of our state and federal representatives should be more concerned about the growing lack of faith in our leaders, our government, and in the promise that our nation will provide for the general welfare of its citizens.  Our federal government rarely wants to provide for anything or involve themselves in any program that involves spending money on its citizens, and our elected representatives endeavor to convince us that fending for ourselves is for our own good.

Our government seeks to cut federal spending on education, again placing the fiscal burden on individual states and citizens who are already strapped for cash.  The burden to our country can also be measured in collective dollars and cents, as research shows that among other detriments to society, “dropouts from the class of 2007 will cost our nations more than $300 billion dollars in lost wages, lost taxes and lost productivity.”  Money not spent on public schools and education will ultimately be spent on prisons and incarceration.

Our government can find certainly find the money (in excess of $700 billion) to bail out the banking and automobile industries for fear of how the foundation of our country and our economy would be affected by the collapse of those industries, but our government cannot find the money to bail out an industry that is shown to directly impact the success or failure of our nation today and for years to come?

Money does talk, and the actions (or inactions) or our government have demonstrated where our elected officials place their priorities.

Insurance Companies Should Cover Deoderant & Soap – Santorum’s Platform Stinks

by David T. Bruce

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Image source: Pride Source, the publisher of Between the Lines

The latest threat to our individual rights this election year is a Republican presidential candidate presenting itself in the guise of Rick Santorum.  All of the candidates proffered to date have been those that quickly and soundly condemn the Obama administration for promoting a socialist agenda that strips Americans of their right to live without the menace of government intervention in terms of how much money we can make, how heavily (or not) we are taxed, and how we may spend our money (in other words, companies are people too).  These same candidates then offer a legislative laundry list of prohibitions that systematically target every behavior and vice considered being immoral or unethical, making them illegal.

The platform of the Republican Party in general is one that encourages less government involvement in healthcare; Mr. Santorum, however, encourages more government involvement when it is fitting with his belief system, advocating legislation that prohibits the use of contraceptives, that prohibits adultery and sodomy, and that prohibits abortions, even in the event of a rape.  Either you want government to be involved in the health of your citizens or you do not.  If you are involved, you should be so for the greater good and not for a personal rationale.

Oral contraceptives are shown to protect the health of woman, as past and current studies indicate that oral contraceptives can prevent ovarian and breast cancer.  This seems to be a valid, life-saving, cost-cutting, preventive form of medicinal therapy that insurance companies might benefit from in terms of dollars saved in the long run.  Do you seriously believe comparisons can be made between such a medicine and toothpaste and soap?  That is your argument?   The only reason that you can offer to prevent insurance companies from covering contraceptives is because it offends your moral sensibilities.  It is none of your business.

We do not hear you raising your voice against the support of insurance companies that cover the cost of Viagra.  Kenneth J. Smith, MD is quoted as saying that “I see Viagra use more as a health issue and a quality-of-life issue than as a lifestyle issue.”  Is the quality of life issue applicable to men only?  Not only is quality of life a valid concern for men and women, the overall health of women and cancer prevention is of higher concern.  We cannot avoid the issue of unwanted pregnancy either, as this too affects quality of life.

Again, what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes is no one’s business – not mine, not yours.  Does this mean that we promote incest, bigamy, or adultery?  Of course not.  Grow up, please.  This is not a high-school debate.  As we reach adulthood, we tend to be intelligent, responsible, and savvy enough to separate the good from the bad, recognizing the murky area that exists in between.  State and federal laws already exist to deter such behavior, and we do not need a puritanical zealot to tell us right from wrong.  The majority of Americans know right from wrong, and we are not your sheep.

Do not impose your moral and religious standards on all Americans.  We share this country; we share this world.  You obviously do not see the world in the same way as others.   Nor do others see the world in the same way as you.  Do not dare to assume that you can command power over the majority simply because you believe that you and a truly small minority enjoy some pious sense of morality that gives you domain over our existence and our right to exist as we see fit.

You talk in jest about mandates for insurance companies.  You want a mandate?  I move that we have a mandate that every person that pretends that they have a gift for leadership in America must spend some time living as a part of the society they deem to represent, so they have a clue to what it is like to have someone that is fortunate to have power and money dictate how their constituents should live their lives within legal parameters.

Mr. Santorum, you are a part of the same elite (please refer to the definition of “elite”) that you condemn President Obama of being a part.  You cannot see beyond your sanctimonious, narrow-minded view of how you think the world should be.  You perceive that your position of power and wealth give you an edge and give you the authority to condemn those of us who do not measure up to your moral convictions.

Good grief.  Who would have thought that the Republican Party could have come up with a presidential candidate that makes Mitt Romney look good?

The Real State of the Union

by David T. Bruce

income_inequality_chart_erAs the presidential election year looms over the political horizon, President Obama finally has something to say during the most recent State of the Union Address about income disparity in our country, as if the debate about the income gap and tax liability were new.  Most of us have devastatingly realized that the thirty-year economic experiment in this country has proven that Reaganomics works only for those citizens and companies that enjoy wealth and the power to augment that wealth.  No one in this country who has lost a job, lost a home, and struggled to get by during this perpetual recession is oblivious to the fact that it takes money to make money, and for those who do not have money, striving to break even is a way of life.  This is the reality of the American Dream, and this reality is unlikely to change any time soon.  During the battle to remain in power or obtain power, our elected officials choose now to acknowledge a problem that has been inherent in our capitalist society for many decades.

Republicans and Democrats posture and politic as they draw lines in the sand and point fingers across the aisle, each blaming the other for dividing the country and building a national debt in excess of $15 trillion.  These are the same leaders who enjoy a lifestyle at the expense of their constituents, a truth made painfully clear to American citizens now aware of Mr. Romney’s wealth and associated tax burden.  This not only highlights the disparity in income and tax liability between “the haves” and “the have-nots” in this country, but it also highlights how brutally out of touch our elected leaders are with the majority of the American public.  How can leaders argue on the behalf of a demographic of which they have no understanding?  How can we believe that our leaders will lobby to balance the country’s tax burden in favor of the lower- and middle-class when doing so would obviously raise their tax burden?

Burden: “something that is carried, something oppressive or worrisome.”

We are told by President Obama that the country is on the mend; we are told that the economy is bouncing back.  Please do not insult our intelligence.  According to GasBuddy, the median price for gas in 2012 is forecast to reach $3.95.  The USDA has projected that food prices will increase overall 2.5% to 3.5%.  An “alternative economic forecast” released by researchers in the White House suggest “an unemployment rate of 9% in 2012. These are not realities that suggest the country is mending or is bouncing back.  Those that live and thrive on Capitol Hill, those that are voted into office by their constituents do not want for food, healthcare, education, or a future.  Those that live and thrive on Capitol Hill have no idea what “burden” is.  They have created an economic disparity by their ignorance, their indifference, and their arrogance.

This is indeed class warfare, a battle that has been waged for centuries between “the haves” and “the have-nots.”  The malicious intent of the 1% – the “Mitt Romney’s” and the corporate “Goliath’s” of America – , however, is to convince those who have a bit more than “the have-nots” that those who have the least in the United States are trying to take away what they have earned.  In truth, the argument is that the tax system is structured as such that the “Mitt Romney’s” can conceivably pay less tax by percentage than those that earn minimum wage.  Major industries can relocate to foreign lands to avoid paying United States taxes.  The wealthiest citizens and companies of the United States need to pay their fair share.  This has nothing to do with Republican, Democrat, or American values.  This has everything to do with human values, and the majority of our elected officials value the citizens of the United States as humans only once every two or four years.  Beyond that, we are as insignificant as the pointless posturing and “policy prescriptions” presented as a way to placate a populace that is sick to death of the endless pandering by leaders who could not care less about our burden.

Recycling Is Great for Plastic, Not Politicians

by David T. Bruce

1994 - 2011 What's changed? Nothing!
1994 – 2011 What’s changed? Nothing!

The collective consciousness that is the Republican Party is scrambling to select a viable candidate to run against President Obama in the 2012 elections.  With the relentless in-fighting that has laid bare the faults, idiosyncrasies, and past transgressions of each of the Republican presidential candidates, the new frontrunner for the GOP is former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Gingrich’s political resume has already been scrutinized by the general public, the Republican Party, and the global media.  Americans will be regularly reminded of his successes and his failures, as we are asked to recall how he demonstrated bipartisanship when balancing the nation’s budget and how he was ultimately compelled to resign for overt belligerence and infantile behavior.  Mr. Gingrich was fined for unethical behavior, a first for any Speaker of the House.  With the facts known, polls indicate that Mr. Gingrich is still potentially considered as the best choice for our new president.

At least some Republican leaders seem to remember why Mr. Gingrich was obliged to resign, and given the typical longevity of our elected officials, I suspect that many remember.  As voters, we tend to be fickle and forgetful (you can bet that Gingrich is counting on this).  Our representatives tend to be self-interested.  All of these qualities are human traits and are sometimes forgivable.  Such a combination, however, during an election year in which Party platforms promote cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans (as if they did not enjoy enough tax loopholes already) and cutting health care benefits for the poorest Americans, places our nation at rick of further stagnation on economic, academic, and environmental levels.

We talk of change, but all we see is regression.  When the Republican National Committee considers reclaiming a member of their party once shunned, we must question their motivation, if not their sanity.  If we are hoping to look forward as a nation, why are we looking backward?  Are there no fresh candidates that can speak their minds and not the stale rhetoric of the past few decades?  Are there no fresh ideas that offer some suggestion that we live in the 21st century and not the 19th century?  Is the 2012 Republican campaign about beating Obama or the Democratic Party in general, or is it about selecting a candidate that will unite and lead Americans?

Given President Obama’s lack of success in uniting both parties, and given his failure to employ a firmer hand when dealing with Congress, the desire to find new leadership is understandable.  The Democrats could indeed find another candidate, but they want to save face, thus becoming part of the problem as well.  Congress is part of the problem, and Newt Gingrich is representative of why Congress is part of the problem.  He has proven that much.

American voters must give up the mentality that we have to look to the past for answers.  We must give up the notion that our elected officials deserve to be reelected, including the President.  If these men and women are not doing their jobs effectively, we have the right to ask them to step down.  We have the right to elect new leaders.  The challenge for our elected officials is how to keep their jobs.  Our challenge as American voters is to unite ourselves in the endeavor to mold this country into what we want, not what career politicians want.

Recycling is great but the last thing we need to do is recycle old politicians. As a group, we need to get off our asses, educate ourselves, and begin recruiting people to hold office who are capable of putting the country ahead of their own personal agendas.

The Republicans Are After Your Money, Freedom, and Dignity

Especially if you are 50 or older, make less than $506,600 per year, or female.

by Shadra Bruce

2012-repugsThe Republican Party and Tea Party have declared an all-out war on Americans. In fact, it’s a bit ironic but most of their intended policies, legislation, and tax proposals would harm their own constituents as much as it would harm those who don’t swallow what they’re trying to peddle.

The three main attacks of their war are: Medicare, Taxes, and Healthcare, otherwise known as the war against the elderly, the poor, and women. Great way to protect their patriarchal, rich-man, corporations-are-people society, but bad for America.

The War Against Senior Citizens

As if it weren’t enough that Wisconsin is attempting to disenfranchise older voters and Missouri is trying to force the aged population to pay more taxes to provide additional cuts to corporations, but the Republican/Tea Party in general has targeted senior citizens – the same group who overwhelmingly voted them into power in 2010. First, Republicans voted down the $250 to adjust for no cost of living increase. Then, they started after Medicare – you know, that “entitlement” program that Republicans detest but that working Americans paid into for 20-30 years,  making false claims about the cost of the program and the savings provided under Obama’s healthcare plan. Their newest goal is to increase the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 and, in bed with for-profit insurance companies who would benefit from the plan, privatize the program.

The War Against the Poor

Cain, Perry, and other Republican hopefuls are all touting their flat tax plan. But according the Tax Policy Center, the biggest losers of a flat tax plan are the poor. Once again, the burden would be squarely placed on the backs of the poorest, hardest working Americans, while the rich would – you guessed it – get richer.

“Under the flat tax, low-income households would lose because they now pay no income tax and are eligible for a refundable EITC of up to $3,370. Although the flat tax is more progressive than a VAT, it is more regressive than the current system. A flat tax would provide huge gains for high-income households, both because their marginal tax rate would fall and because they consume relatively less of their income than do low-income households. As a result, if a flat tax were to raise as much revenue as the current one, the tax burden for the middle class would have to rise.”

The War Against Women

I’m not quite sure where to begin with this one. From attempting to defund Planned Parenthood to passing “personhood” laws that take away a woman’s choice by imposing a view that women are simply storage tanks for men’s babies to simply targeting women’s healthcare with outdated ideas and laws, the Republican Party and Tea Party have created a war against women that makes me wonder how any woman could choose to remain involved in the party.

While I’ve always been liberal, believing that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – not just the elite and corporations – I’ve never leaned so far left as I do today. I’m not a Democrat; I’m an uber liberal progressive (often referred to by those scared by their absorption of Fox News as the word of their God as a pinko commie insert expletives here). I lean further and further left by the desire to balance the pendulum that is trying so hard to swing so far to the right that the America I love will soon resemble countries we more closely associate with being targets of our special brand of democratic intervention.

If you are older than 50, make less than $506,600 per year, or female you should be thinking long and hard about who you want to represent you in Congress in 2012. Because the only “people” being represented by the Republican Party have the last name Inc.

The United States Government – A Burden on Society

by David T. Bruce

A recent article from the Associated Press asks the question: Is it the responsibility of the government to fix the economy? Presidential candidate hopefuls maintain that if the federal government steps back, “[t]he economy will thrive.” If the government would learn how to balance a budget and manage its own spending, we could argue that we would not be suffering the crisis that we are today.  As much as the majority of the Republican Party would like to deny association with the constituents they so proudly embrace every two to four years, our government and the people are intertwined.

If people are employed and prospering financially, then the government does well. This can be measured by an increase in spending and a subsequent increase in tax revenue. We recently had a brief reminder of what might happen were the government to shut down: military veterans and social security recipients may not receive benefits, and many federal employees may find themselves temporarily unemployed. We rely on the government, and the government relies on the populace. As is asked in the AP analysis, “[w]hat is the right balance?”

When debating about balancing the budget, the question is not whether or not our nation has money. The question is what to do with the money we have. We obviously have money enough to engage in at least two (arguably three) land conflicts. An analysis by Chris Hellman illustrates that the funds requested for nuclear weapons in 2007 surpassed “the average amount spent by the Pentagon during the Cold War, for a military that is one-third smaller than it was just over a decade ago.” Bill Boyarsky points out in his study that “the total bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to CostofWar.com, is now $1.24 trillion.” Adding the cost of movements in Pakistan, the cost to Americans for these conflicts will total between $3.2 trillion and $4 trillion. We have enough money to wage war perpetually.

We also have money enough to bail out businesses that fail in their professional and fiduciary responsibilities. Bailout figures show that $2.7 billion was spent in 2009, while $445 billion was spent in 2007 and $1.7 trillion was spent in 2008 under Republicans. These numbers and the numbers illustrating expenditures on military endeavors over the past several years demonstrate that the government does not want to give money to help the voting constituents they feign to adore. They do, however, want to provide money in abundance to the big companies, thereby securing the votes for which they truly care.

When our elected officials gather together to balance the budget, a gesture on their part to balance how these billions and trillions of dollars are allocated would be a step towards truly appreciating those people who are the foundation of America. Certainly, there are those people (of the smallest minority) that make bad decisions and choose to live solely under the umbrella of services that local and federal governments provide. The majority, however, are suffering as the result of bad decisions made by our elected officials.

Is it the responsibility of these officials to fix the economy? Yes! They screwed it up!

I am tired of the government reneging on what they think citizens are not entitled to, while they give companies trillions of dollars in entitlements, rewards for making bad choices.  I think many Americans feel the same way.  As citizens of this country, we are expected to manage our affairs in such a way that we do not become a burden on society. This election year, and every election year from now on, our mandate to Capitol Hill must be that our elected officials keep their houses in order.

Judging from what we are witnessing, they are the burden on our society.

Enough is enough. Stop bickering. Start doing your jobs. Fix your mess. Fix the economy. Step down from your pedestals and podiums and get your hands dirty. This is not about you and the next election. This is about today, and this is about the future of our country.