Can Politicians Really Help Us?

I fear the Republicans and I’m disappointed with the Democrats.  Can either party help America get out its economic rut?  No matter what politicians promise us to get elected, the only real work they do is to stay in office.  Once elected they won’t make waves, won’t make hard decisions, won’t do what’s needed to get the job done unless it keeps them in power.

I fear the Republicans because they only have one goal – pay less taxes.  Everything else about their endless soap boxing is smoke and mirrors.  Republicans want to be rich and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they want to get rich at the expense of everyone else.  If we followed Republican desires America would end up like India, lots of poor people and a few rich ones.  Basically Republicans believe that nothing should stand in the way of getting theirs, and they don’t give a fuck about what happens to anyone else because that’s their damn problem.

Democrats want to be social engineers but they don’t want to put in the study and work it takes to help America without without causing economic hardship.  Obama had a tremendous opportunity to be a historically great leader, but he won the election and then pulled back.  He was given over eight hundred billion dollars to jump start the economy – that’s a lot of graft to buy favors, so why has a nearly crushed Republican party roared back to life?  Because few people know how that money was spent.  That would take work, and the democrats don’t seem to want to do that kind of work.

The size of the stimulus package should have had some kind of checks and balances.  It should have been spent completely publically, and with public involvement.  I think the essential problem with the political system is people want politicians take care of everything, to treat voters like babies, to wipe their ass, change their diaper and tell them goo-goo, ga-ga and bounce them on their knee.  As long as the people are babies, politicians have all the power.  They want to be the grown-ups and make all the decisions.  But can so few people make wise decisions?

Obama should have told the states and cities that there was stimulus money but the mayors and governors were responsible for spending it wisely.  Governors and mayors should have been required to propose projects that would have created the most jobs and offered the best long term benefits for their communities, and then held referendums and let the people decide which projects to back.  Everyone should have been involved.

Instead of blaming political parties for our failures we should be blaming ourselves.  We treat politics like an endless playoff game between two long-time rivals.  It’s rah rah rah for my side against yours.  Switching leaders every two, four or six years really doesn’t do much, has it?  Isn’t it just playing Mom off against Dad, or Dad against Mom?

What we want is prosperity.  That requires full employment.  More Americans than ever are living in poverty.  You can’t have prosperity with numbers like that.  We can’t change anything by just picking which team we want to win, the Republicans or Democrats.  I think we need a more participatory government where voters directly decide the issues and the spending.  Let’s cut out the middlemen.  Everyone needs to study the problems, and everyone needs to take responsibility to solve them.

Unless everyone is studying the problems, unless everyone is working on the solution, things are going to stay a mess because what we’re doing is shirking responsibility.  Expecting politicians to do everything is crazy.  How can a few thousand people make the decisions for over three hundred million people?  How can two philosophies be the only solution for a reality as complex as ours.

The philosophies of lowering taxes or social engineering are as silly and simplistic as Santa Claus delivering Christmas presents in one night by a reindeer powered sled.  We need a new system for processing complex economic and social problems.  We need a Democracy 2.0.  Power and responsibility needs to be shifted to everyone.  I’d say get rid of both parties and find a way to deal with issues one at a time.  We need open source politics where the source code for how everything works is open for all to inspect.

JWH – 9/19/10

4 thoughts on “Can Politicians Really Help Us?”

  1. I’ve been saying for years that we need more involvement. When American pay our taxes, I want 50% to go to a general fund and the other 50% to go to places of the tax payer’s choosing. This person wants half their money to go to defense, I want my half to go towards the arts, and so on.

    This would force government to be more transparent because each group would want taxpayers to send money their way.

  2. Anyone here in California? The Republicans don’t even want to pay the bills for fear it might cost them a nickel. Schools, hospitals, local governments, are not being actually funded because its more important to keep the interest on the bonds paid. (probably true, but …)

  3. Unfortunately, Jim, this is a prescription for mob rule. That’s why we have a representative democracy. It may not work well, but it works better than anything else.

    The people aren’t really idiots, though it seems that way sometimes. They just have their own interests – family and sports, generally – and they can’t be bothered about anything else. They go for the “cut taxes” pitch because it’s easy. Who wouldn’t like more money in their pockets?

    They don’t care about unemployment insurance unless THEY need it. They don’t care about education unless THEY have children in public schools. And they don’t care about science, history, sociology, economics or anything else, not enough to educate themselves. They care more about what’s on television this season…

    But you can’t expect ordinary people to become experts in all these things that don’t touch their own lives directly. It’s hard enough to pick a representative to do this for them (and many people don’t even bother to do that). I’m sorry, but this isn’t the solution. (The solution is probably to get money out of the political system.)

    1. No, you can’t expect ordinary people to become experts, but the wisdom of crowds principle will come into play. I’m not sure how expert our representatives in congress are either.

      The current system is in deadlock. We need to try something different. We need to get more people involved. Of course, all of this is idle wishing on my part.

      And I have other ideas. Like each bill should only have on item on it. Those 1000 page bills that nobody understands are insane. I also think they need to up the passing vote percentage from 50% to 60%. That would force bipartisan action.

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