Friday, July 29, 2011

The Debt Ceiling

By Daniel Perin

I am just too friggen mad to even write any more about the stupidity and economical ignorance of the Tea Party.  I wish they would take their damn tea bags and go home.  If the rest of us are lucky, they WILL be voted out of office in 2012 (probably along with Obama).  God help us given the “choices” we have as alternatives.  It is completely clear now that there are no moderates left in either the Democratic or Republican parties.  When faced with serious problems nothing great was ever accomplished in this country without the help of the moderates who remained poised in the midst of the chaotic ranting of the extremists.

Even if there is an eleventh hour agreement on the debt ceiling, it is too late.  The markets, which are the backbone of our economic structure, are already taking steps to steel themselves against the nearly certain recession that will be the result of not paying the bills we have ALREADY created, but now some think we shouldn’t pay.  REMEMBER, the debt ceiling has nothing to do with new expenditures.  It is strictly to pay for the expenses created mainly in the last ten years, and more specifically, in the eight years of President Bush’s terms in office.  (Two wars, Tax cuts for the rich, and a Medicare drug program—none of which did the Republicans raise money to pay for!)

I sincerely hope that if the economy falls the first to go are the sixty or so Tea Party Republicans who are bringing this default about.  They aren’t on Social Security (probably) and they will continue to get their Federal salaries as representatives, so I guess they have nothing to lose.  On the other hand, I DO have something to lose.  When the Bush economy tanked in 2008 I lost more than 20% of the small retirement funds I had been able to gather the last eleven years of my working life.  That was on top of another 20% lost in an earlier downturn.  Even though I have restructured my retirement, it is my Social Security check that pays my bills.  My retirement allows me a few “extras” like gasoline for short trips, basic television and Internet service.  I do not feel poor, but I do feel threatened by ignorance, because it will affect me and already has.

Well, I guess I did still have a few words about the Tea Party!  I am sure it is clear that I hold strong resentment to what their naiveté is creating.  I personally know some Tea Party followers and am constantly dismayed about their apparent lack of awareness of the broader picture of the problems of our country.  Yes, we spend too much.  Yes, it needs to be fixed.  Yes, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid need restructuring.  And yes, let’s get the hell out of all the wars and special military bases all over the world, and continue closing extraneous military installations all over this country.  Yes, that means even in YOUR Congressional district just like mine.

But to not honor the debt we already created?  That is NOT an option.  Try not paying your credit card bill, just once.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Misreading History

By Daniel Perin

As I read the Sunday Oregonian Commentary page on this subject [1] I wanted to share it with others who don’t have access to the article, or did not read it.  It so clearly stated the obvious in terms of what is going on in our current debate on economic principles.

By this morning, as I reviewed the article, I thought, “What’s the use?”  It seems to me that the folks in Washington who are supposed to be representing their constituents back home simply are unwilling to LISTEN to what we are trying to say.  Congress and politics in general have become so rigid in positioning themselves that the two sides are like the proverbial immovable object meeting and irresistible force! 

Mr. McElvaine leads his article with these words:
What excuse do we have when we follow people who, guided by a different economic faith, see the past as they want it to have been not as it was?  Today, under the influence of leaders blinded to facts by certain faith, we are careening toward a repetition of mistakes that led to catastrophe.
He is referring to politicians who either have forgotten what the Great Depression was like, or were not present during those horrendous times.  Having forgotten that the principles of the Republican Party that brought on the financial ruin for millions of people they are now “misreading history” and implementing policies similar to those that led to the collapses of 1929 and 2008.  There is a well-known saying that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  McElvaine continues:
With the economy in a precarious position, slashing spending, concentrating ever more wealth and income at the top, and blocking effective regulation is a prescription for disaster.
Conservatives appear to be united behind a set of beliefs that are dangerously wrong.  Theirs is a faith-based economics that contrast with fact-based economics; their god is named the Market.  Their economics is as immune to facts as its opposite, Marxism.  Call it Marketism.  A devout Marketist believes that the Market is always right and any government intervention is, well, sinful.
The sad reality of this interminable roadblock is that the public has a better sense of what is wrong and what is really important to them than their representatives.  It is time to get REAL, to get past the thinking that “my representative is okay, but the rest of them should be voted out of office.”  This is not good enough.  I believe we are close to a time when a total house cleaning is in order.  If we were to elect 100 brand new Senators and 535 brand new Representatives, there is NO WAY they could do worse than the ones in office now.  I know this is such a radical thought that it could never happen.  But there are things we could do as a nation that would bring about change more quickly.

This morning I received an email making the rounds, which in short advocated making our Congressional representatives subject to the same realities we all face.  I don’t often forward such emails, but I did this time.  It may be too much to hope that we can bring about a re-direction in our politics, but I have to keep trying.  I am dismayed to realize that people I would have believed had more sense than to blindly follow factually illiterate leaders, do not realize the consequences of such action.   What I DO realize is that more of us are beginning to raise our voices and to take actions in some way.  Already a majority of the public, including Republicans, disagree with the insane positions taken by Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor, all of whom are scared to death by the Tea Party representatives elected in 2010, no attention is paid to our voices.

 There are moments—after saying “a plague on both their houses,” I am ready to say let the default occur.  Let the economy collapse.  Let our house of cards crumble.  Then, using our indomitable American Spirit, let us rise again to rebuild this great nation!  It is time to quit misreading history and learn from what actually happened  when faulty economic policies were followed.

Here is a copy of the email I mentioned earlier.


The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it.. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011
1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.


[1]  By Robert S. McElvaine, Oregonian, Sunday, July 17, 2011.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Last Stand (or Fall)

By Daniel Perin

Well, here we are again.  Thanks to the Tea Party crazies who believe the government can fail to pay its obligations and still survive.  Listen!  Try not paying your rent and see what it gets you.  Tell your bank you aren’t going to make the car payment this month because the auto manufacturer wastes materials in building them or the car doesn’t get good mileage.  Quit paying for your health insurance. (You can then depend on the hospital emergency room, which is required by law to take care of you whether you can pay or not.)  Of course, if you go that route the hospital will soon close and the doctors will be out of work.

Here’s a thought.  You could quit adding debt to YOUR credit card and begin paying down the balance until your finances are under control again.  (Personally, I learned this lesson years ago.  I have no debt and do not incur it if I do not have the means to pay it off.)  Sure, it would be nice if government acted this way and the issue must be addressed.  But this game of mutual Russian Roulette that our politicians are playing can have only one consequence—the gun will eventually fire the fatal bullet.  The way it looks right now the bullet is aimed at me and all the other Social Security recipients, the men and women in the military, and all others dues to receive a check from the government after August 2.  Shall I tell my landlord that there will be no rent payment until my check arrives? 

I have absolutely no use for the Republicans (and many weak fish Democrats) especially now that they are controlled by the Tea Party element.  It is sheer folly to believe that we must utterly destroy our country and raze it to its foundation in order to bring order.  The problem is way too big for such simplistic remedies.

You guessed it.  The self-serving political hacks that are Republicans raised the white flag of surrender on raising the debt ceiling.  Now for the small print: 

To shirk their open responsibility, they are proposing to simply let President Obama raise the debt limit on his own, while they present a plan in Congress to vote to “disapprove” of his action.

There you have it!  The catastrophe is averted, but not resolved.  Perhaps we could hope for some real action on resolving our economic policy problems now that the fire is turned down a bit.  Take a deep breath and forget about it.  Frankly, I think the only way we will be brought to our senses is to be brought to our knees in economic collapse.  I hold no hope for effective legislation as long as there are enough Republicans in office to thwart any meaningful effort to have an intelligent conversation about the needs of our society.

Okay, you can resume breathing for now, but keep the oxygen handy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

American Reaffirmation

By Daniel Perin

Last evening I again watched The Capital Fourth of July Celebration on PBS along with millions of others across this nation.  The display of wonderful talent, great music and lively dancing by many in the crowds spread across the nation’s capital parks aroused my own sense of patriotism—AGAIN!  And, of course, the fireworks that so brilliantly lit up the skies reminding us of the beauty of a substance far too often used as a destructive force against our fellow humans.

Those who follow my writing, especially on this Insight and Outsight blog know that more than once I have cast myself among the many frustrated, angry and dissatisfied citizens raising their voices in protest about the seeming lack of responsibility among our political representatives.  But last night that all faded temporarily as I realized how grateful I am to be a citizen of the United States of America.  With all our faults we are THE nation where citizens have the freedoms to believe or not believe in Divine Providence; where we can form our opinions openly and test them on the waters of sometime stormy seas of opposition.  We still have the vote, our unique opportunity to participate in determining our continuing destiny.  We can gather freely in groups to discuss our priorities, plan our course of action in response to the actions of our government, and generally add to the strength of our nation through our participation.

Where else could a young girl of a minority background dream of success and work her way to the top of the ladder, become the American Idol, gain an Oscar, an Emmy and other honors—and open the show singing our national anthem?  Jordan Sparks honored us all with her spirit and her talent.  I remember first seeing Josh Groban on the Ally McBeal television show in simple nightclub bit.  I was stunned by his remarkable voice.  Now he is a world famous performer fulfilling his dream.  And Steve Martin!  This guy has done so many things to entertain us through the years.  Last night with his band he treated us to some of America’s original music with his brilliant blue-grass banjo playing.  There were so many more, all of whom, to me represented the best we have to offer.  We were privileged to hear them because they were free to follow their dreams and we were free to gather together and enjoy them.

I will probably find it necessary to express my frustration with the folly I see in the actions (inactions) of our government again as I continue to participate in my own way.  But last night, and lingering on through this day, I am basking in the joy and satisfaction of living free!

God Bless America, the land of the Free!