Sunday, January 17, 2010

Priorities

      Along with many others, I am beginning to lose faith in the ability of the U.S. Government to solve the nation’s problems. As long as politicians and their constituents continue to wage a war between the major parties, effective action remains at a stalemate.
      I was hoping the 2008 election would overcome this problem, but if anything, it seems to have exacerbated it. Prior to the election of Ronald Regan, democratic and republican liberals would vote together on a given program, as would democratic and republican conservatives. A given program passed or failed because its followers thought it would be good or bad for the country.
      But those days seem to have passed, for the electorate as well as for the politicians. If a given program is sponsored by a democrat, the republicans will vote against it, and vice versa.
      And I believe it has grown worse since Barack Obama’s election. For example, Senator Jim DeMint said, “If we’re able to stop Obama on this [health care] it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Notice there is no consideration as to whether the health care bill per se is good or bad for the country.
      Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio commentator, said on his program this week, “Everything this president [Barack Obama] sees is a political opportunity, including Haiti, and he will use it to burnish his credentials with minorities in this country and around the world, and to accuse Republicans of having no compassion.
      “… if you paid your income taxes, that's how you donate to government for aid, and sure enough, here comes Obama announcing $100 million from the government for aid to Haiti, fine and dandy. But, you paid for it, it's your taxes. All I said was if you're going to donate do it outside the government, pure and simple.”
      Immediately the democrats began ranting that Rush said “don’t send your donations to the White House.” Admittedly Rush slammed the President in the first paragraph, but his second seemed reasonable enough, especially in view of the government’s record in handling disaster relief. “Divide and conquer” is a motto seemingly embraced by both parties.
      Yes, it’s a two-way street, with pundits from left and right all shrieking out at once.
      In the past six weeks we in the U.S. have been spending news and debate space on “big” events such as Tiger Woods’ amorous adventures, Leno vs. O’Brien and whether Senator Harry Reid was right or wrong to say that Barack Obama is “light-skinned” and has “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one” (which happens to be true). Fortunately we were able to ignore the “small” problems such as joblessness, recession, war in Afghanistan, nation building in Iraq, and health care reform. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
      But of course, these things are relative. Just as we were beginning to pay attention to some of our problems, along came an earthquake in Haiti. The saying, “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet,” comes to mind.

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