Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reflections on the Debt Crisis

There is a dark mood over America and its growing. While Congress seems pleased with itself over the passage of the debt ceiling package, those outside the bubble world of Washington's Beltway. aren't so happy. We sat and watched with white knuckles and disbelief at the asinine brinkmanship being played out on our television sets every night. A recent poll revealed much more. Only 10% of Americans are happy with Congress irrespective of political party. Think about that number for just a minute folks. That means that overwhelming majority of us believe that Congress has failed. Revolutions, civil wars, and mass strikes and riots are not uncommon when approval ratings drop below 47%.

There are two points about that number that I find most interesting. The first is that this figure is not a fluke. While the approval rating of the president tends to flux, depending on what he's recently said or done, the approval rating for Congress has remained in the dumpster for some time now. Congress is supposed to the representatives of the people. They are the modern Tribunes. So, what does it say when We the People believe our Tribunes have failed us, and continue to fail us? This leads me to the second point which I am concerned about. Given that "the mob" often take to the streets whenever the approval ratings of their representatives drops below the 50% mark for any length of time, what does that say about and to us? In order to answer both questions, I think the first place to start is to look the poll itself.

The poll was conducted by Fox News between August 9-11, 2011 comprised 904 registered voters. The poll indicated that only 10% thought Congress was doing a good job while 81% disapproved of Congress's job performance. Only one in three said the country was headed in the right direction. 71% said they were not optimistic about the country's economic future. 81% of Republicans, 74% of Independents and 46% of Democrats thought America was in economic trouble.

With respect to the debt agreement, despite the Beltway's backslapping, 52% of us disapproved of the agreement compare to 36% who approved of it. Of that, only 12% felt that the agreement would improve the economy. 50% of those polled said the agreement was "weak" while 28% though it was "terrible" according to the Fox News article. In response to related questions, 74% expressed concern that the federal government will continue to spend more than it takes in. By 3 to 1 margin, the respondents thought Americans were already over taxed. So, taken as a whole. the poll reveals what almost everyone of us already know: The economy is in trouble and we have no leadership.

To avoid the possibility of biased polling data, I decided to check out a recent CNN poll. This poll, which was taken approximately August 4, 2011 revealed that only 14% of the respondents approved of Congress's performance. The article stated that this was only the third since 1974 when CNN began doing polling that the Congressional approval rating fell below 20%. The first was in June 1979, a month before Jimmy Carter gave his infamous "malaise" speech, and the other was in March 1992 during the, again, infamous House banking scandals. The last time CNN conducted a job performance poll of Congress was in January of this year. At that time, Congress had a whooping 22% approval rating. According to Gallup, the recent 10% is the worst in history, with the previous low being 13% in December 2010, however, World Net Daily reported a 9% approval rating in July of 2008, but what's a few percentage points among friends right? The point is that the vast majority of Americans are beyond disgusted with Washington. My question, however, is this: Are Americans sick and tired of being sick and tired with the beltway Crowd, including not just Congress of either political stripe, but also of their corporate paymasters---the lobbyists---the global corporations who pull the strings?

Some 11 years after our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, we've made little progress. Afghanistan is still crawling with Taliban; the US back government is ripe with corruption and incompetence, amid the changing loyalties of tribal chieftains and government bureaucrats. On the up side, we have severely crippled (but by no means killed) the effectiveness of the Taliban. Al Qaeda has been nearly destroyed, with many of its top tier leaders given a one way ticket to Allah, including bin Laden. Much of its second and third levels have been decapitated as well, but it still remains a dangerous enemy with mutations springing up in far flung places like Kenya and Yemen.

Iraq remains a very unstable nation. The nation is rife with corruption and sporadic violence aimed a destabilizing the country, while Iran waits like a hungry lion to devour its neighbor as soon as we leave, which goes all the more to emphasize our strategic and tactical blunder of invading in the first place. Following the first Gulf War, Hussein was rendered regionally impotent. Yet, he remained strong enough to keep the religious radicals in check. We've seen Moslem citizens rise up against their military backed strongmen with varying results. However, how successful they will be in the long run remains questionable. Meanwhile, the zealots wait in the shadows and pray for weaknesses. The result is an even more volatile Middle East providing the West's oil.

Globally, we've seen not just the increase in radical Islam, but also the spread of Islam through out the world, especially in Europe and the United States. We've seen the delayed reaction of the silent invasion by recent events in Oslo. We've watched a failing global economy, again, most notably in Europe and in America, especially with a credit downgrade and lack of political leadership. Riots are now rampant in London, so known for their passivity because there are no jobs and no money for the government handouts. The Ships of State have no crew, no captain, no rudder and it's out of fuel.

America too is being invaded. This invasion comes in the form of illegal immigrates in search of economic opportunities, not as political or religious refugees. They have no desire to become American Citizens, learn our language or adapt to our values or traditions. As a result, our economic infrastructure has been stretched to the point of collapse. Our Middle Class, once the industrious spine of the American economy, is nearly shattered; its jobs outsourced to our ideological enemies in the sacred name of profit while unions, once the protectors of working class America, are unable or unwilling to do anything more than provide a hollow chorus to their quiet sobs as the American Dream of a home, a decent job, and better times for their children fades from memory. Where have you gone Meany, Chavez and Mary Jones?

When will Americans take matters in their own hands and demand their country back? We are given the illusion of choice each election cycle. The truth is that there is little meaningful differences between the two leading political parties anymore. Both have the same moneyed masters. They are two sides of the same worthless plug nickel. Today, we are caught between three worlds. One bequest to us by our Founding Fathers and the other by those seeking a socialistic enlightenment for the betterment of Mankind. Perhaps the former is too idyllic and distant while the latter is too idealistic, but either are preferable to the third which seeks to enslave us to faceless corporation masters; to create a post-national world of economic serfs. That is the world we increasing live in.

Fox Poll:

CNN Poll:

Gallup Poll History:

World Net Daily:


Yoda said...

I couldn't have said it all better myself Paul. The sad reality for the American citizen though is that our economic ruling class in this country is much better armed and much more brutal than other ruling classes in the world today such as those in Libya and Syria. In a sensible uprising against the owners of the multi-national corporations and others who have been decimating our country for decades now the people at the outset would be defenseless against the tanks, machine guns, morters, drone missles, snipers and chemical field agents that these individuals and families would unleash against them. The beginning of even a peaceful uprising on the part of the people in our country would be met by a slaughter of the innocents. What would you suggest we do Paul. Where and how should we begin to effect real and meaningful change for the better in our country?

South Ender said...

There are already pockets of organized resistance in these United States. Those in power KNOW this and are watching them ever so closely.

How could the original American Revolutionaries possibly win against a much stronger and better equipped military force in the British?

That answer, as history clearly shows, is through the use of guile, guerilla tactics, and resolve! The British were predictable and believed that a show of force and intimidation was all they would need. History shows how well that worked out for them.

Our current "power structure" is remarkably like the British in that regard. But unlike in 1776 when George Washington largely had raw recruits in both the enlisted ond officer ranks, there are millions of military-trained veterans among the civilian population that swore to an oath of allegiance that they will DEFEND our collective liberty against "all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC".

Those holding power today have betrayed all of us. It's time to hoist the battle flag and get down to the business of restoring liberty as outlined by the Founders. The Founders paid for OUR liberty in blood.

Former President Thomas Jefferson's quote is as true today as when he first stated it:
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Ida said...

Thank you for your very thoughtful article. I hope it is influential and read by a wide range of people.
Do you have some remedies in mind?

Another Opinion said...

I have many of the same concerns as you. I think we are headed for severe times. I agree that we should stock up on basics like cabinet medicines (antibiotics, toothpaste, alcohol, peroxide, first aide kits, etc), plus toilet paper, antibacterial soap, paper towels, paper cups, paper plates, plastic forks/spoons. Of course, tools (especially hand tools), heavy blankets, sleeping bags, canteens, empty jugs (for water), bleach (for purifying water), extra light bulbs (in case the electricity actually works), duck tape, thread and needles, cans of oil or grease, gas, to name just a few items. Weapons, cleaning kits and extra repair parts like springs would be good too. It would be a good idea to have good comfortable walking shoes for various weather and quality gloves. Food stuffs that keep are essential, but so are seeds, fertilizer, etc. Detailed "how-to" survival, home remedy, and first aide books are also a good idea. The trouble with having these saved on your computer is that there may be prolonged brown or black outs and you may need the information at that particular moment! Form local/neighborhood support groups will increase your survivability too.

Another Opinion said...

I agree that are present systems of government have either failed or are failing. Soviet Communism, based on Stalinism, has imploded. National Socialism failed, not because of a failure in the system necessary, but because of overwhelming force of arms. Could it have survived? Perhaps. Fascism did well under Franco and Mussolini (until the latter's alliance with Hitler and his poor planning--come on, how does a modern army lose to a bunch of spear chuckin' Ethiopians?).

Nevertheless, with Franco, people chafed under the State's thumb. Monarchies did the best over time, until faced with the Enlightenment. Of course, monarchists were often linked arm and arm with a very repressive religious system. Theocracies are never good, though that's what the radical Moslems want to create.

What some of our Founding Father's proposed was the libertarian ideal. Good idea, but only practical in a low populated agrarian society. Heck, it was barely practical when they were discussing it almost three hundred years ago! Society is much to integrated and crowded for libertarianism to be successful. Historically, the Greek Demos state, from which we take the name "democracy" failed within a few hundred years. Many ancient Greek philosophers, like Plato believed the military state of Sparta was as close to ideal as Man can or will come. I guess that's pretty cool unless you're a Helot or allergic to death.

The Roman (western and eastern) empires survived the longest, followed closely be the Indian Pashas and the Mongol/Chinese Dynasties. I would be remiss not to mention the Tokugawa Shogunate, created by Tokugawa Ieyasu, which lasted several centuries in Japan and was considered by many students of the Orient to have been the ideal government. However, these were all military dictatorships of varying "benign" or "enlighten" degrees (including the Spartans. The same could be said for National Socialism). People, historically, have ALWAYS been willing to sacrifice freedoms for security; order over chaos.

Therefore, to answer your question, what may "save" the us is the institution of a benevolent military or military back dictatorship if history is to be our measuring stick, and if you don't mind having little individual freedoms. Of course, in today's world, this will be sponsored by global corporations with the military/security forces serving to maintain order to maintain profits and protect the elites. The only other alternative I see is a democratic socialist state which takes the best (hopefully) from democracy and socialism (not to be confused with Communism), using the Scandinavian countries, where it has been successful, as a template. Of course, the populations there are generally stable and well educated with a common domestic culture among the citizenry, producing a common bond (ie: individuals willing to work and work together to contribute to the common good). Given the shear size of the world's population, poverty, undereducated, diverse ethnic and racial groups, superstitious beliefs/ignorance, and tribalism, it's a toss up as to which option wins out.

Mike said...

Lots of numbers and stats. You must be in heaven. Many think we have money to burn. If we don't change, all our money will be worth is to burn.