Category: Economy

All of Our Elected Officials Need a Time Out

by David T. Bruce

politics_1_tnbWith the recall elections in Wisconsin complete, the Associated Press reports that the “Democrats managed to seize two Republican state Senate seats [. . .], but fell short of the three or more they needed to take control of that legislative chamber.”  The article cites that both sides claimed victory, yet some would continue to pursue recall elections in the coming year.  This redundant, reprehensible rhetoric is representative of how our elected representatives conduct themselves, and this demonstrates the political mentality of our elected officials, not only in the state of Wisconsin, but in every state in the nation as well as on Capital Hill.

Kiplinger forecasts that our nation is potentially on the verge of another recession, and while business spending is up, retail sales are not half of what companies are spending.  Companies may be enjoying some breathing room as the government raises the debt ceiling, continues subsidizing oil companies, and focuses on the upcoming election year.  The millions of Americans who remain unemployed and the millions more Americans who are on a fixed income enjoy no such relief, as we verge on a double-dip recession.

The United States downgrading by Standard & Poor’s rating agency is yet another graphic reminder that our government is living and spending beyond its means.  The knee-jerk reaction from our representatives is to eliminate what they refer to as “entitlements.”

How perverse and insulting to attach a negative connotation to a word that is supposed to reflect what citizens have earned over the years.

After many years of representing the backbone of what has kept the United States a viable global entity, you are damned right that most Americans trapped at the lowest economic level of the United States economic echelons are entitled to at least basic medical care, a safe home, and food!

Millions of dollars were spent on campaigning in the recent Wisconsin recall elections.  What would have been a better use for those monies?  Yet these elected officials care little or nothing for the neediest of their constituents unless they are able or willing to vote in their favor.

The behavior exhibited by those politicians closely involved with the recall elections in Wisconsin illustrates how very little they care for the people that are responsible for employing them and for the potentially disastrous fiscal crisis we border on in the coming months.  As soon as they are elected, they look to the coming election or to unseating their opponents.

How pathetic.

Children behave better than those who bicker and argue over the simplest of agenda items.  Were we to survey members of White House Nannies, I would suspect many might suggest (off the record, of course) that little difference exists between the behavior of some of our elected officials and that of young children.  As citizens, we have the right – we are entitled – to expect better behavior from those that we charge with representing our interests.  Both Democrats and Republicans may claim victory in the latest playground brawl, but all of us are the losers.  All they care about is taking control.

We need to remind them that the control is ours.

Unemployment in America is Not a Joke, Mitt Romney

by David T. Bruce

er-unemploymentWith at least $250 million dollars in assets, Mitt Romney cannot afford to practice his stand-up comedy routine to an audience of Americans who struggle daily to remain sheltered, clothed, and nourished.  With one third of children in America covered under the Medicaid program, with over 44 million American’s on food stamps, and with over 9 percent of Americans still unemployed, American citizens cannot afford to remain complacent in terms of learning more about who they support for any office, let alone the presidency.

Make no mistake. The vast majority of politicians are not altruistic. Even with the best of intentions, the person that earns (collects?) the majority of constituent votes enjoys a lifestyle that may likely blind them to the realities of living as most Americans live. They will not want for the basic necessities of life, and in all likelihood, they will enjoy a life style with an abundance of cultural and academic opportunities. Severance pay for our each of our elected officials may run in the millions of dollars, assuring our retired or fired senators and representatives that they will never have to worry about being unemployed again.

The palpable fear of being unemployed is a daily reality for over 60 percent of Americans as they live paycheck to paycheck. The political and corporate machines feed off of one another.  In a tag-team effort, these two machines prey on the American public for their survival, leaving them just enough scraps to enjoy the moment and to forget that tomorrow we may not have a home or clothes or food. The majority of Americans do not have assets from which to draw, as Mitt Romney does. For him to compare his station, even in jest, with that of the typical American shows a profound disconnect with the reality of living in America in the twenty-first century.

At some point, we as a society need to recognize that the current corporate and political structures are set up to safeguard themselves and not the American public. Both establishments present themselves as entities whose nature is to serve their constituents, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Both establishments are self-sustaining, pandering to the American public for votes alone. They want nothing nor need anything else from the average American. Therefore, every three to four years, politicians such as Mr. Romney attempt to build bridges, comparing their reality with the reality of twenty-first century America. They make meager attempts at levity to lighten the mood and engender a sense of openness. We must recognize these façades and charades for what they are.

Mitt Romney tells President Obama that Americans “are not just statistics.”  Mr. Romney, Americans are not just a punch line either. The reality of America today is not funny, and neither are you.

Big Oil Subsidies Squeeze the Middle Class

by David T. Bruce

oil_earthIn a recent Congressional debate, the majority of Republicans argued that the five largest oil companies were entitled to a $2 billion annual subsidy to offset the $35 billion they earned (?) in the first quarter of 2011.  One particular senator sarcastically stated that making money in America must now be unacceptable, specifically targeting the Democrats’ proposal to eliminate these subsidies.

According to a recent article in The Washington Times, wages in America are up 1.7%, whereas the rate of inflation is up 2%.  Statistically, households with the lowest income in the United States spend approximately twice as much on food, relatively speaking, as households with the highest income.  Obviously, the dramatic increase in the cost of fuel limits the spending power of the average American.  It is estimated that the tax cuts recently approved by Congress will be absorbed by the increased cost of gasoline.  Yes, apparently making money in America is indeed no longer acceptable . . . unless you live and work on Capitol Hill or unless you are a CEO or COO of the aforementioned oil companies.

Recent polls show that public opinion in favor of Congress is significantly low.  According to recent Gallup polls, Congress has achieved an approval rating as low as 13% over the past year.  If this is indeed the case, then perhaps as a society, we should consider placing more emphasis on the state representatives we elect and less emphasis on the executive office that is often provided with speed bumps and road blocks by the opposing party anyway.  We must give careful consideration and close scrutiny to those people we elect at the state level, who are charged to represent the interest of their constituents.  Right now, many representatives seem to represent only the interests of the oil companies (and other major industries) and by extension their own individual interests, forsaking the interests of those that elected them to office. For example: the only three Democrats to side with the Republicans in the Oil Subsidy vote were from Louisiana, Nebraska, and Alaska, all big oil states.

The greater majority of the voting public has not made a substantial living in years.  While our government bails out the banking industry and subsidizes the oil industry, that which is left of the middle class struggles daily to raise a family and support their communities, as they slowly merge with the lower class.  How can the majority of Republicans dare to compare the plight of the average American with that of the incomparable benefits that the corporate giants enjoy with the blessings of Congress?

In fairness to Congress, we as a society share a measure of responsibility in creating this dependence on fuel.  Many Americans insist on the value of SUVs, 4X4 pickup trucks, and similar gas-guzzling automotive apparatuses.  We are not sending the message that we care about fuel consumption, fuel waste, or the environment.  We continue to put money into the coffers of the oil industry instead of alternative energy sources.  We continue to pursue off-shore drilling instead of cultivating wind farms or solar power.  We can respond to the oil companies by supporting alternate energy options, and we can respond to our representatives by sending them home.  Maybe then they will understand what it really means to not make money in America.