Greater Krueger National Park

Greater Krueger National Park
An image from a recent trip to South Africa. Clcik on the image for more on this trip.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Twitter and the Debt Ceiling

There are a lot of things going on right now that disturb me and this blog has attempted to speak to many of them, but a structural problem that needs to be addressed is the manner in which our political system has been degraded. A long time ago we used to see congressmen and senators publicly debate the major issues that face the nation in the Halls of Congress. Today, we see a few House and Senate leaders get together behind closed doors and secretively make key decisions on major legislation that are then explained to their respective caucuses, again in secret, before they are hastily written into complex legal language and voted on by members that have not had time to even read the legislation, let alone think about it. The public is informed about these actions by individual political leaders speaking to us in sound bites through Twitter, Facebook and the increasingly partisan media. Nancy Pelosi's famous pronouncement is true - we have to pass the legislation to find out what is in it.

Today, the issue uppermost in our minds is the debt ceiling fight. The fact that there is confusion about what should be done is amazing, but I understand and am seriously depressed by the political/economic reality that faces us. The fact is that America is changing and I do not like the changes. We are losing our initiative as a people and increasingly looking to Big Brother to take care of us. President Obama's efforts to level the economic playing field are attractive to an increasingly large percentage of the people living in this country. The irony of this is, of course, that the effort to create social nirvana is stifling the economic engine that provides for all of us. The president's position on the debt ceiling is part and parcel of his effort to redistribute income and the disheartening fact of life is that a lot of Americans applaud his efforts.

Combine all of this with the revolution in "information technology" and you have a serious problem. I honestly believe that, as a people, we are increasingly ignorant rather than increasingly informed, and I credit "IT" with a large part of the blame. The complexities of the debt ceiling issue are endless and their significance is profound, yet we attempt to deal with what little we know of the situation in tweets and partisan sound bites. We completely ignore the fact that the current political realities are such that we are tweeting and the talking heads are pontificating about rumors coming from behind closed doors. We complain about Obama Care being crammed down our throats, but we are about to have the same thing done to us again. We accept that this secretive decision-making process is the way Washington works and we turn our attention to the love life of the current set of celebrities who are living out our current set of national fantasies.

As we address the debt ceiling on our Droid, we angrily proclaim to each other that Washington is a mess and threaten that if this Big Brother does not do as we wish we will elect a different one in 2012. Twitter is good at expressing simplistic anger, but less effective in addressing the complexity of real solutions. That same criticism is increasingly valid for us as a people. We are content to let the politicians decide our future without public debate, knowing that if we do not like their decisions we can always throw the bums out. As we go down this road, my guess is that we will just get another set that will not live up to our expectations. In order to change this we, as a people, would need to address real issues. We find complaint to be easier than constructive thought and easier to fit into our national attention span. Anybody that wants to get ahead of the curve should move to Greece right now.