Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bill Crawford: Governing between the extremes

Americans now live in a political environment dominated by extremes.
 
One burgeoning faction, looking through red tinted lenses, seeks "freedom from." Another, looking through blue tinted lenses, seeks "access to." A fading faction, looking through clear lenses, fears all will become tinted.
 
The grassroots conservative movement sees national government as the great enemy and seeks freedom from oppressive taxation and regulation, while the grassroots liberal movement sees national government as the great provider and seeks access to expanded government succor.
 
No representative democracy can survive for long with either extreme in power. Indeed, our founding fathers, whom Providence blessed with the uncanny collective ability to see through clear lenses during the stressful birthing of our nation, designed the U.S. Constitution to force balance among extremes. They put in place checks and balances, deliberately gave different roles and representation to the House and Senate, limited the power of the federal government, and mitigated the power of the majority through the first 10 Amendments.
 
Regrettably, those willing and able to peer through clear lenses to protect us from extremism are fading away. Red and blue tint has seeped into most of our institutions and the processes by which our leaders are chosen. Even judges, the intended ultimate stronghold of clear-seeing patriots, are now chosen based on their tinted views of the law. Our Constitution’s intent for balance is largely ignored.
 
The founders also intended for this Providence favored nation to be steeped in virtue. The growing and intense hatred of conservatives for liberals and vice versa – Americans all – shows America's virtue is fading too.
 
All this, essentially, because of greed.
 
Ayn Rand schooled us about greed in her 1957 epic work “Atlas Shrugged.”  Looters and moochers she called them, the profiteering businesses and non-productive masses who thrive off the accomplishments of productive citizens and siphon off their opportunities for prosperity.
 
A great irony for grassroots conservatives is that they may become the victims in this political environment, not the grassroots liberals who portray themselves as victims. The freedom dogma attractive to so many sounds good, but if established will primarily benefit the profiteers who fund the tinted foundations and advocacy groups spreading this creed. Big business profits would soar exponentially more than livable wages and broad prosperity.  
 
On the moocher side, we already see government unable to sustain Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs at current levels, much less at the expanded programmatic and funding levels desired by grassroots liberals.
 
Government's role is not to benefit either looters or moochers, but to bring competing politics into balance so as to determine the appropriate level of taxation and regulation needed to sustain the national defense, commerce, homeland security, and public safety while providing adequate support for the general welfare. Representative democracy expects the push and pull of politics, but relies on clear-eyed patriots of good will from all sides who will come together to provide balanced government. 
 
Sadly, there is no mood for compromise between the red and the blue, nor much good will. A nation cannot be indivisible and under God, or debt free, without both.
 
 
Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

25 comments:

Old Fart said...

I would not place Social security in the moocher column. Both employer and employee pay into this fund, as I have for many, many years. But the money is used by the treasury for things other than SS. If the money was actually set aside and invested we would be talking a different story. There is no investment dividend to add to the contributions. Not a sustainable model, but that doesn't make SS recipients moochers.

Anonymous said...

Another installment from Crawford's series titled 'Ode to RINOs'.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to imagine a worldview more poorly suited than Ayn Rand's to the coming century in which automation will eliminate the need for most human labor.

We're all looters and moochers once the robots get sufficiently sophisticated.

Anonymous said...

There is an idea that the liberal courts in an effort to be 'fair' have contributed to this. Take Mississippi for example. The court wanted to make certain that one congressional district is majority black. The person who represents that district has a far left record. The remaining three districts are more white than they would have without this meddling and thus more right wing. Playing to middle will not win you these seats.
I am at a total loss as to how any court can allow demographics to be used in setting up voting districts. Race, age, sex, religion. None of these should matter. The law of the land should be that we create districts of roughly equal number of voters and draw the lines that are easiest for voters to understand. That is use county lines, city limits, rivers, highways, etc. In the case of Mississippi congressional districts we should be able to use entire counties as the dividing lines. It would not be hard to design a computer program that would draw the lines. The constitution says treat everyone equally. I have no idea why we don't.

Anonymous said...

@10:52 that is only partially correct. SS isn't run in the way it should but my father (a staunch conservative) ran the numbers just for kicks on my grandparents. (He is a finance guy and semi-retired so he has the time.) One of my grandmothers never worked and the other worked only the minimum number of quarters. They both drew off of my grandfathers incomes. He was able to determine that even using the highest average rate of return both couples benefits far exceeded what they had ever paid in. My maternal grandmother drew benefits for nearly 40 years. That didn't even touch medicare. Obviously, there are people whose longevity isn't the same and we are in an era where many more women are contributing to SS, but my own mother didn't work once having a family and will also draw off of my father as opposed to her own if he dies first. It is a substantial monthly difference. We have to approach SS like everything else and look at it from a pragmatic non emotional stance. Yes, we pay in, but are we paying enough. And, before we pay in is the system in place to ensure that those payments are being used appropriately and invested wisely.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, Mr Crawford suffers from something far worse than his obviously "blue tinted lenses". His astigmatism needs some correction.

One burgeoning faction, looking through red tinted lenses, seeks "freedom from."

It's not a "burgeoning faction." Freedom is exactly what this country was founded upon and has always been what made the U.S.A. a republic of states that other peoples desired to migrate to.

Mr. Crawford needs to step back from the pulpit and attempt to understand just what and how this country has formed. There is no such thing as "grassroots" conservative movement. By the very definition, conservative is opposite to "grassroots."

Attempting to redefine history and conscious efforts at intellectual dishonesty are not even well-hidden in Mr. Crawford's message.

The 17th amendment changed the structure of our government and made the progressive move towards more centralized control, the very thing the Founding Fathers fought to get away from.

His notion that Big business profits would soar exponentially more than livable wages and broad prosperity, is boogey-man dishonesty. So what if "big business" profits rise at higher rate? Their access, through lobbying, to the controls of government is an issue. A business' success, with those huge profits, is what drives innovation. Just because "big business" profits soar, doesn't mean that the everyday individual has to suffer and the intense taxation and regulation is what has created the suffering.

It's a very myopic view to suggest that more regulation to control the re-distribution of monies is from "clear lenses". Suggesting that businesses shouldn't make large sums of profits is completely missing the whole notion of "land of opportunity."

Government has become a business. It's become accepted and there are millions that (while they have "taxes" removed from their paychecks) do not pay back into the system. There is entirely too much of the average citizen's money being used to pay both the government workers' income, SS and taxes.

Now, the true extremists, like Crawford, will attempt to appeal to emotion and say something about not paying our armed services, or other civil servants. That's the extreme and by bringing up the fact that there are too many people that are "working" for a government entity, does not dismiss the fact that there is a need for some.

Our country has taken in record amounts in taxation year after year, even during a recessive time, and the governments still operate at deficit.

The very thing that Crawford, et al, complain about a single private "big business" is simply overlooked when it's the government. The government coffers continue to expand but it's spending is expanding faster.

I suggest someone smarter than I, look at our country backwards. Instead of trying to decide what more laws, regulations, and control we can continue to add. How about look at what is the bare minimum that would be needed to provide for the basic functions of our governments and then go through every single thing that is above that and then vote.

Lastly, our federal tax code is the perfect metaphor for how this country has dismantled the parts that made this country free, it's people free to succeed regardless of station and generated the class war that is evident in every "blue-tinted" complaint.

Who is John Galt said...

It's hard to imagine a worldview more poorly suited than Ayn Rand's to the coming century in which automation will eliminate the need for most human labor.

Ayn Rand wrote prophetically. Her family fled Lenin's Russia. (That Lenin is a favorable figure to a plurality of the Democrat Party is another matter.)

Social Security (the most egregious wealth transfer of all time) was the only REAL entitlement at the time of the publication of Atlas Shrugged.

Since then, government has only grown, and crept steadily into our lives and pocketbooks. Nearly half this country pays zero income tax.

Looters and moochers, indeed. And one party wants it to continue apace.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, 12:26.

Anonymous said...

Attn 12:02 Since your father was a "finance guy" maybe he should add the factor of compounding growth. I have seen the figures and they are pretty compelling that Social Security should be self sustaining. By the way, the state retirement program would probably be solvent if they eliminated the "13th check" and the ridiculously high annual commissions paid to certain brokers.

Anonymous said...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs

Worth the watch to analyze human nature better.

One thing we should be able to agree on regardless of the spin of this article is that humans are inherently greedy. And nobody cares. Some humans do things to make themselves look not so greedy, but there is usually an angle.

Anonymous said...

Looters and moochers, indeed. And one party wants it to continue apace.

You'll need to work mighty hard to persuade that the one party to which you refer is not the Republican Party.

Anonymous said...

You'll need to work mighty hard to persuade that the one party to which you refer is not the Republican Party.

You ever seen a Republican wearing a Che Guevara shirt?

Granted, it's a matter of degree. I'm a Tea Party guy. (The principles stand, even if the movement got co-opted by Trump.)

Yes, Republicans like to spend government money. But they don't want us to be Canada. Or Europe. Or Cuba. Or, the Democrats' favorite country (since the USSR fell), Venezuela.

Anonymous said...

12:26, after reading thru the first dozen paragraphs that was a total waste of two minutes that I will never get back you finally made a statement that had some sense. Suggesting that "someone smarter than you...." Don't really remember what you were suggesting what that large group of people should do, but from reading the rest of your crap it appears it would not be any problem to find such individual. Thanks for wasting this on a computer - it would have been a total waste of a sheet of paper to have used up for this diatribe.

Anonymous said...

12:41 - cite the basis for those "ridiculously high annual commissions". Would be glad to see what/who/how, but not interested in opinion without facts. And since you totally ignored the 'finance guy's' analysis with your compounding reference -- the fact that the mother, grandmother, etc were drawing based on spouses payments into the system -- I dont put much stock in your PERS comment.

Eliminating the 13th check would be a good deal for PERS, but its purpose as I understand it was to replace a COLA calculation. What PERS needs is a total overhaul - elimination of a defined benefit program and replacing it with something more akin to a 401K program like most of the rest of the country (excepting several state governments) has already gone to. Hell, even the Feds figured this out some 40 years ago with their change from CSRS to FTSP.

Anonymous said...

Ah, once again, his thread reflects just how polarized we are in today's society, which most of the time includes Mississippi. Pretty said.

Anonymous said...

2:36 - The Tea Party got coopted long, long before Trump. The fact that Trump is far distanced from even Republican policy and politics, much less the founding purposes for the Tea Party is not even the question. Tea Party started as "taxed enough already" - against the senseless spending, borrowing, and ridiculous economic policies of the Obama administration. But shortly afterward, here in MS and elsewhere, the idiots in charge started after everything else - prolife, flag, whatever; ignoring the spending and borrowing ideals on which it was founded. Idiot Laura vanCrazy produced her report card on the capitol steps giving Tater a D- and an F on the same day he blocked a bond bill in the State Senate; all because of which senators he referred an abortion bill to. Hell of a Tea Party - her along with the self-adorned President that couldn't even get elected Alderman. McD certainly did nothing to help the movement along as he focused it all on his ego, but the TP had diminished long before his fiasco.

Rant on about Trump, but if you are upset about the TP getting coopted, look around the room at your next meeting and see who is present and who no longer has any interest.

Anonymous said...

One of Crawford's better columns - as much as it might hurt some, it is actually aimed right on target.

Anonymous said...

5:15,

if Crawford's target was a pile of bovine excrement, then yeah, he was right on target

Anonymous said...

June 3, 2017 at 3:12 PM says:

12:26, after reading thru the first dozen paragraphs that was a total waste of two minutes that I will never get back you finally made a statement that had some sense...

I guess one wouldn't expect comprehension from someone who takes 2 minutes to read 12 one or two sentence paragraphs.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:26

"A business' success, with those huge profits, is what drives innovation."

Bullsh*t! It's been Colleges and University's pushing innovation. Businesses have been banking on government subsidies and hefty tax cuts and rebates.

We are going backwards as a society. When Donald Trumps dumb ass backs out of the Paris Accord - he's pulling funding from renewable energy - and trying to pick winners and losers with old energy sources like fracking and coal.

America has not been innovative since Kennedy. Our airports are shot, our interstate system is antiquated and needs to be updated , we still do not have speed trains while Asia and Europe does. We are reactionary because conservatives believe everything is just fine the way it is! Keep finding ways to make the rich richer and they'll eventually trickle down money to the masses.

Anonymous said...

6:20

"banking on... tax cuts"? Really? The money made by a business is it's money. It's not the government's money and it's not your money unless you own or own a part of the company. They are NOT "banking" on tax cuts and the overwhelming +95% of businesses don't receive subsidies.

It is wholly hilarious that you mistakenly whine that businesses receive "tax cuts" and "subsidies" when you follow up with "pulling funding from renewable energy." That's a freaking subsidy, Einstein. Corn is subsidized in order to make ethanol, which most would choose to not have in their gasoline if they had a choice.

America has "not been innovative since Kennedy?" Really? I think you should educate yourself.... on a whole lot of things you opine about. First, innovation has nothing to do with airports, roads, speed trains, etc unless you equate "innovation" to government.

Most innovation derived from Colleges and Universities is subsidized by private business..... nevermind. You are either very young or very lost. Any attempt to educate you would be a lost cause.

I'll play a game though, name the "innovations" that has had a broad impact on society, that has been derived from Colleges and Universities. I will say that Colleges and Universities have innovated the societal concept that has bankrupted so many. The innovation that one must have a college degree to do a remedial or vocational job. The innovation of attempting to change American society from a society of producers to a society of service personnel. That anyone and everyone can be a "professional."

Alas... even after stating the recognition that it's futile to attempt to educate you, I continued trying to do so. Just do yourself a favor and go do some learning on your own and not what you are spoonfed by news, professors, echo chambers, etc.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with the points Mr. Crawford made. I particularly agree that extremists have succeeded in destroying the balance of power by demanding that party loyalty trumps competence and places the party good before the national good.
Those of you who have drunk your parties' poison Kool Aid have conveniently ignored some major flaws in your arguments.
1) Address monopolies or " too big to fail"
2) Address the concentration of wealth into the hands of the top 1%
Relate both of these to capitalism as a model.
3) Address the fact that Social Security was so solvent in 1972 when it was raided that it was impossible to forecast it ever being insolvent. It was forced savings for those who lacked the discretionary income or the ability to assume risk. Yes, you could get a greater return with higher investment dollars and greater risk...grandfather , were he a genius should have considered that in his calculations.
4) Systems experts know that business models don't apply across the board. Look at privatization costs ( start with the military) before and now. Prison privatization costs will work as well. It only works in the first years because the private enterprise gets all start up costs for near nothing .
5) When we prospered, businesses operated under very different laws. You did not see today's CEO salaries. What was and wasn't a " business expense" has changed for the worst. We've traded no write off for lunch for a business owning the CEO's home and then depreciating it as a retirement gift or giving lifetime rights. Taxpayers didn't finance business start up. We've removed risk. We've allowed reducing durability, quantity and quality to increase profits. We've allowed banks and pension fund management to gamble with money when once upon a time they went to jail for that. Interest rates today were loan sharking and warranted jail a few decades ago when interest was tied to the prime rate and credit standing of the borrower.
6) No entrepreneur, no matter how successful gets where he is alone. He didn't come out of his mother's womb knowing how to do what he did, he had to find good workers to help him and somebody fed him.
7) 30% of any population has an IQ under 80. 9% of that 30% will be so mentally challenged that they are unemployable. Then , we have the 10-15% who are mentally ill. What exactly do some of you want to do with those people? You don't want to provide them food or shelter or institutionalize them but some of you do seem to want to give them guns.
8) If not colleges and universities ( some of you didn't look back into history very far) , then do you deny NASA or government's role in the Internet ?

7:41 and 12:02 are just illogical, but some of you are so bogged down examining a tree leaf , you can't see the beetles or see that the forest is in trouble! The notion of context which is key to reading Crawford, escapes you.

Our present economy bears no resemblance to functioning capitalism which requires the government to keep the competitive playing field level so a new mousetrap can be invented and to make sure or resources are not depleted, our consumers are not gouged , workers are not enslaved or needlessly endangered,and our country is not irrevocably damaged. Individual freedom stops when you knowingly hurt another citizen for personal gain. That's what capitalism takes to work. Ayn Rand and her devotees didn't consider sociopaths , underestimated the temptation of greed and power and selective rationalization and denial in otherwise sane individuals.

I await the "messenger attackers" who lack the ability to attack any points in the message. If you can't dispute the message, I win.

Anonymous said...

9:22 - don't you know - it wasn't colleges or universitites, or private business that gave us the internet. It was Al Gore himself.

But for the kid that thinks we haven't had any innovation since Kennedy, ask him what kind of keyboard he typed that stupid statement on, and what system he got it to this blog site. Did he send it FedEx or UPS. Certainly didn't use the post office that existed during Kennedy. Maybe, just maybe he faxed it if he knows how to use that outdated technology. But if by chance he used the internet, did he do it on his IBM 360, or did he have a laptop. Or just maybe, as smartphone? Go buy yourself a snowcone since there aren't any snowflakes around today.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:41am and 5:06pm

You two are a piece of work. Joey Filingane's Kool-aid must be some good stuff, because you two have been swallowing it for a long time.

For the record - the got'damn QWERTY keyboard design was originated in 1868!!!!!! The first typewriters with the design were in 1874 !? We are using the same design for type writers!? Freakin' geniuses!

9:22am was spot on.

Anonymous said...

Well, 5:06 pm I always understood Gore wanted more credit than he deserved by having supported and facilitated the legislation that made the Internet possible while in office. I find that easier to overlook than Trump's campaign sentence about vaccinations causing autism or his "locker room" talk or claims that he won by a greater margin than he did. Gore's overstatement had, at least, a shred of basis in reality.
But, maybe Gore should be ashamed of any connection with the Internet, since it seems to have brought on The Age of Irrationality as most people now select the sources of information that reinforces what they want to believe. Propaganda not to trust " fact or fiction sites" has worked because humans believe what they want to believe...it's a human flaw.
It's a flaw we see when young men believe radical jihadist sites developed by religious zealots who seek world domination, but we like to think they are lesser mortals and we can't be as easily brainwashed by other flavors of zealots.


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