Thursday, November 04, 2010

A post-election reply to Mortimer and Stanley

Here are excerpts from a reply to two dear friends - disguised below with two fake names - Mortimer and Stanley.   

These guys fall at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but their exchanges are always respectful.  The three of us have been "sparring" since our teens. 

Some text changed, but it is close to the original version when I responded to their post-election e-mail dual of 11/3/2010...

"Dear Mortimer and Stanley,

I love your passionate sentiments about today's political landscape and all that ails us.  I'll begin with the standard (but in this case truthful) comment - I agree with both of you - to an extent.

Ah, the fun of going last...

I'll start with Stanley and his Mortimer rebuke - "Greed and avarice are as old as the Bible, Morty. And the Democrats are experts on that."  

Stanley, I assume you mean Dems are experts on greed, not the Bible.  Well, some Republicans also know greed, as do some Libertarians and labor unions.  What's missing in your criticism, is the role of of the players who make policies, appropriations, budgets and tax incentives that perpetuate our fiscal hell. Too many Pols vote the way their base wants them to, even when they know better. 

Take, the housing bubble, which was enabled by government policies (sorry Morty, mainly Dems and the Fed) when millions of Americans "bought" houses that they had no business buying.  That experience is the perfect example of why we are broke as a nation and as a people. We ate too much, drank too much, bought too much, saved too little and the bill came due. 

Yes, we have a consumer-based economy Morty and it's a petri dish for laziness and greed.  An economy so dependent upon domestic consumption strikes me as doomed as ancient Rome.

Our sense of liberty gave way to gluttony and we confuse the two nouns. The founding fathers are vomiting in their graves because we squandered advantages granted by their sacrifice and by God.

These election outcomes?  Yes the people have spoken Stanley, but will a new majority in power practice sound fiscal principles by telling voters what many of them don't want to hear?  Will tax cuts be matched by corresponding spending cuts?  We'll see what the new Congress tries in January, but I don't believe we can tax our way out of the hole, or depend upon government to be a good steward of the peoples' wealth.  Nor can the Fed save us by printing cash.  What's the pain remedy?  First we must take the pain.  

Live within our means, keep the dollar strong and responsibly cut entitlement programs.  Social Security, Medicare, a bevy of state and other federal programs, public sector defined benefit retirement plans, as well as their Cadillac health plans (are all part of the same problem).  Some austerity measures can kick in now, not in 2025.

As for Mortimer's remorse regarding Mr. Feingold's election  fate, I probably wanted only one political head more than his -- Harry Reid's.  My view on how Russ Feingold devolved as a public servant would take time, but here's a taste...

A Maverick, Morty?  Sometimes, but not always when it mattered.  His lone vote against the Patriot Act was pointless grandstanding.  He acted as though he had a monopoly on wisdom and constitutional purity that somehow eluded 98% of the United States Senate (one senator didn't vote on the measure).

Libertarians later rebelled against this "Maverick" after he voted for his party's stimulus package and Obamacare.  All this and years of inactive legislative performance sunk his boat, Morty.  He fell in love with being a Senator and made an ill-timed dart to the entitlement-loving, left aisle.  It was too late for him to retreat to the center. 

I'm done for now, but know this men -- I can still drive to the hoop better than either one of you ever could, although I concede you were both better students. 

Your devoted friend,