Vail Daily letter: Peeling the onion
March 25, 2014
Wouldn't it be nice if we could receive some sense of what the facts really are, coupled with what are the pros and cons, in our 24/7 network, blog and social media world. Let's peel the onion:
Starting with pros and cons — some good examples include:
• Pro/con statements are now required (if input is received) for ballot issues, thanks to a provision in the Tabor Amendment passed some years ago.
• TV stations that have programs with folks representing the left/right or for/against
• Some newspapers
Then how do you know the real facts? Again, some examples:
• The website factcheck.org, a consumer advocate nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.
• Network news — do CNN or PBS offer more real facts than Fox News or MSNBC?
• Some newspapers.
But the number of sources is still limited considering the myriad of ever increasing and influential sources dishing out extremes of one-sided and inaccurate/incomplete information. So how much of a problem is this? There seems to be a worrisome trend:
• Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941: President Roosevelt called Congress to declare war on not only Japan, but also Germany — pretty much without dispute.
• Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: President Bush called for national unity — but there were plenty of ideas from the right for more immediate aggressive responses against whoever, while left-leaning "Fahrenheit 9-11" film focused on government ineptness, etc.
• 2008 financial insolvency: The sure collapse of our national financial system in late 2008 was only averted by President Bush's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson calling for the $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) to bail out financial institutions. But as former Democratic member of the House of Representatives Barney Frank recently said: "it was the most successful, yet most hated government program ever." Right wing extremists clearly were willing to go over a real financial cliff as they muttered their ideological one-liners of "let them fail," while others were asking about their bailouts for housing price drops and lost jobs. Note: The bailed out financial institutions have paid everything back with interest.
• Current congressional gridlock: Congress being unable to do anything in a traditional coming together in spite of differences — due to ever increasing influence of extremists.
So is this trend of extremism a real concern for America? Absolutely, as one wonders if we may not be so lucky in dealing with the next major crisis in a grown-up manner. The blame is really on both sides — although some might say there is more room for extremism on the right.
Meanwhile, here in the Vail Valley, we continue to read one-sided letters — complete with unsupported one-liners, much less inaccurate and incomplete facts. A moderate example comes from Butch Mazzuca — who I respect as a battle-proven Vietnam vet and one of the most reasonable right-leaning letter writers — complete with his views that seem to say he has seldom seen a bad form of capitalism. Given that, it is ironical to have read his late 2013 article where he seems now to be concerned about income inequality in our capitalistic system. I quote: "Since 2008, a period when government regulations and controls in virtually all areas of the economy have increased dramatically, the top 1 percent has garnered a whopping 93 percent of all the income growth in the country." He points out that the top 1 percent only received about two-thirds of income growth in the 2002 to 2007 Bush economic boom years.
In fact, the income and wealth gaps have been increasing for decades under multiple presidents and has now reached/eclipsed the pre-1929 stock market crash period. But to fairly answer the question as to why the continuing growth in the income gap since 2008, you really don't have to look any further than the trillions of dollars as part of the rising stock market above the stock market high in the Bush era, as trumping any other rationale — including those elusive, wall-to-wall government regulations.
Finally, Mr. Mazzuca is quite right in being concerned about the increasing income growth gap. This could well be a great opportunity for someone to craft an article on gaps in income growth, income and wealth, with some semblance of real facts on both sides of the issue — leaving the conclusion up to the reader or the author's own ("on balance") conclusion. Note the term "gap" is used rather than "inequality" — which conjures up ideology.