As Emperor Overlord of the United States, I have to give that new kid, Obama, credit. He doesn’t do things small. A $3.55 trillion budget. That takes some brass ones, it does. It’s been my experience that the new employees tend to come in and want to put their stamp on things. First there was that pushing $800 billion “stimulus” package (doesn’t seem so big now, does it?). Now this amusing little budget. I should probably say a little something about that.
What. The. Frak.
Seriously? I’m amazed that Obama kid is able to talk about this with a straight face.
Don’t get me wrong. I got a kick out of his State of the Union Address (that wasn’t a State of the Union Address). He did all the correct rhetorical things. Knowing that the American public, historically, will forgive you if you try and fail but will damn you if you fail to try, the Prez rallied the troops and tied them together with a great big red-white-and-blue ribbon. It was masterfully done and key to the work ahead. If the public doesn’t believe in the end result, the result will never be reached.
The trick here is to deliver a mighty challenge. Something big, but not daunting. In that, Obama failed. People might not be able to comprehend $3.55 trillion, but they know that they couldn’t comprehend $800 billion, and this is a whole -illion step up from that.
Tax the Wealthy
You know, I don’t have the same problem of taxing the wealthy as the ponderous elephants do. Maybe in the mid-20th I’d have had a problem, but there as been too great a disconnect between what the median makes and what the top not-company-founders make. Except for the guys who haul away my garbage every week, no non-innovator does anything that is worth tens of millions of dollars of compensation. Not CEOs, not board members, not actors, not athletes, not university administrators, not…well, the list is long and fecally enhanced.
Still, this wealth tax cannot be the sole panacea for fiscal soundness. While it promotes a degree of public feel-good, the fact is that it’s not going to make much of a dent when compared to $3.55 trillion.
Credit the Not-wealthy
So, that new kid wants to rebate workers $400. Ostensibly this is to “cushion” the blow for other increases. Not totally compensate for, but cushion. A couple of hundred dollars? Really?
Look, I’ve gone in disguise and walked among the slovenly hordes to see what they think about these rebates and things. The comments are pretty consistent: if you are going to give them money, give them “real” money (i.e. thousands), not this stuff that just disappears as if it were never there. The problem is bigger than that. Don’t make it worse by giving out tokens.
I have no problem with pushing the banks to start loaning money again. It’s being done in a sort of half-assed way, but it’ll work given time. However…I think that a signal needs to be sent that the banks have to change their ways in terms of how they deal with their customers.
Until they pay off whatever money Uncle Barack and Aunt Nancy send their way, the banks have to stop charging fees for tellers, ATMs, depositer bounced check fees (how are they supposed to know?), and similar burdens that have been piled on the peons so that the executives could have their cushy offices and private jets.
Shoot…forget that “until they pay off” crap. Make these low-level standard service fees free.
Isn’t it funny? The one area of government that works well enough that most people are happy with it, the new guy wants to gut. I’m not going to pretend there isn’t significant waste in Medicare, but the fact is that if you slash the budget now, the waste will continue. What will diminish are the services that people depend on. This move is dumb.
Equally dumb is trying to maintain a privatised health provider/insurer system. It will never work. Too many fingers. Too many pies. Too many inefficiencies. Too few doctors, too many bean counters. Republicans hate this, but nationalized healthcare, paid for by taxes, is the only way that will work.
Right now, businesses can’t hire employees because of the cost of healthcare. People out of work have to pay out of their own pocket a considerable amount (now est. $8000 per person). Basic standard services are cut back while expensive “sexy” services (and the fancy new buildings to house them) get the funding. There comes a time when you have to declare a system to be in such disrepair that the only thing to do is replace it. Such is the case with American healthcare.
While it’s odd that I’d mention this so soon after I mentioned nationalized healthcare, but government is too big and unwieldy (even for an Emperor Overlord). Unfortunately, like the hydra, if you cut off one head, two more will grow in its place. Much of this is due to the ad hoc nature of things. Congress and the President pass laws constantly that tinker with perceived problems or add favored services. This snowballs until what you have is a bunch of very busy and overworked employees and managers who can accomplish nothing.
I’m often reminded of the tale of a town who decided to build a bridge over a small river. To ensure that the bridge would be kept safe and in repair, they hired a bridgeman to take care of it. In order to pay for this bridgeman, they decided that they would charge tolls to the people who used the bridge. Of course, to manage these tolls the city had to hire an accountant. The tolls rose in order to also pay for the accountant. Unfortunately, given raises and whatnot, over time the tolls were insufficient to keep the books in the black, so the town fired the bridge watchman. After a few years, the bridge was condemned because no one noticed the effect the daily wear and tear had been having.
And that’s how the government works. There is no review of how the new law changes the situation. Too often the bureaucracy is preserved at the expense of the need. I’d suggest that some of the $3.55 trillion be spent on government review and streamlining, exempting no branch or department. I mean, you look at Congress and it’s obvious that they’ve bridge-watchman’d themselves into a perilous state.
I really get a kick out of watching how you all try to manage yourselves. I mean, if someone wrote a book like this, no one would believe it. Still, it’s entertaining as hell.
I’d like to pump up that entertainment factor and start a new bi-weekly reality program. Have the President and his cabinet publicly face off with members of Congress. The Brits do something like this and it’s a hoot. None of this “distinguished Senator from…” bs. Just Mr. and Ms. Shouts and name-calling and all the rest are all allowed.
I’d also suggest that Jeff Probst host. He’ll get to the bottom of things.
Good Luck With That
So…I’m off to winter at the chalet with the Emperor Overlords of Europe and Pacifica. Hope you have fun with the budget. I’m going to be happy not having to hear the constant gripes of the right and the justifications from the left. Y’all are both cracked.
(OK. Here’s a little secret for someone who wants to gain power: become a centrist. Those whose votes are sought are the ones with true power. Think about it. And it works whether you are in the majority or minority. Try it. All the cool politicians are doing it.)