Vail Daily letter: The thinkers have left the building
July 15, 2010
I am old enough to have known socialism as a form of government adopted by most of the developed world rather than a viral disease that must be stomped out. Any American who isn’t boiling with rage, filled with hatred and foaming at the mouth is a socialist, or a Communist or Marxist if you are on Glen Beck’s hit list.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, socialism is defined as “a social system in which the producers possess both political power and the means of producing and distributing goods.” That’s the old definition.
There could be a number of new faces voted to Congress this fall and the vast majority will be running on a common platform of hatred and anger. What brought us to this point? We have become a society addicted to sound bites, slogans, jingoism, labels and name calling. The thinkers in our society have left the building.
In the political arena, which today has absorbed important segments of science (evolution, global warming, stem cell research, etc.) and environmental disasters (the Gulf oil debacle), logical debate and problem solving have been buried under an avalanche of blame games and denial.
In our world, bleep doesn’t just happen. Somebody or something has to be found responsible and punished. The “news” media ensures that our blood pressure remains elevated. If one topic loses steam, there are always others to leap upon. And if all else fails, create something. It doesn’t have to be true or factual. Delivered with enough outrage, the American public will eat it up.
In a recent national poll (there is one every day don’t you know), the majority of Americans didn’t know the difference between the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus plan) or which administration launched them (TARP was Bush, stimulus act was Obama). TARP is more commonly known as the Wall Street-bank, AIG and GM bailouts.
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Very few of the survey respondents knew that the total approved TARP amount was $700 billion, or that only $475 billion was expended; that most of that money has been paid back; and the estimated cost to the taxpayer is estimated to be $89 billion rather than the original estimate of $356 billion.
This is 42 percent less than the cost of the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s during the Reagan-George H.L. Bush era. Is $89 billion too much to pay for saving the world’s banking systems? Do you have any idea what would happen to you personally if U.S. and world banks collapsed in unison?
So why are so many citizens angry at congress persons who voted for TARP? Because they are told they should be. Like Chinese water torture, their heads are repeatedly pelted (drip, drip, drip) with the word “bailout.” Even though it is turning out to be a major success in preventing world economies from collapsing, the public is clueless.
Honest debate in our society has vanished and replaced with personal attacks on those with differing viewpoints.
In Saturday’s publication of the Denver Post, Charles Krauthammer (“The selective modesty of Obama”) spent his 1,000-word commentary attacking Obama’s personal characteristics. A waste of paper and ink.
My respect for the individual serving as the president of the United States (as opposed with agreement) did not change after reading Krauthammer’s commentary, but my respect for Krauthammer went down considerably.
It is said that in a democracy, the populace gets the kind of government it deserves. So are we headed towards a government that is filled with rancor, contentiousness, hatred and polarization? Our current Congress is evolving into that space and there is a strong possibility that new congressional members come fall will be even more in that vein.
Is this what you want? If not, then tell your favored candidates to skip the character assassinations and stick to what they believe in and what policies and legislation they will pursue. And, if you don’t believe as some candidates do, that the millions of unemployed are moochers, tell them to take a hike.