Well, it’s campaign season ( ONLY mid-term elections, nothing sexy like a Presidential election), and even though I am not in the States to witness the beautifully and gloriously disgusting ads and messages of would be Senators, Representatives, Governors, et al (and really thank god for that) I can still read. And read I do. I read news articles and commentaries about the happenings and goings on in the States.
For the most part it just serves to frustrate and anger me. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s just because that as I read about what is happening in America right now I am struck by the amount of vitriol being spewed forth by both sides of the aisle, and the direct result of this unchecked rage and anger and hate–irrational discourse. I know politics has always been a dirty and corrupt game. Humans are dirty and corrupt, and since we are the ones who comprise government, this really should come no surprise. But, as dirty as it is, there always seemed to be some kind of decency, or at least attempt at decency involved in the process. Sure, there were exceptions, Gary Hart, for example.
Still, it seems like the political conversation, if it can even be called that, has just eroded into a shouting match in which both sides make outrageous claims at the top of their lungs without thinking about the power and impact of their words. No longer is it possible for both sides to sit down and have a semi-civil conversation. In fact, that very idea seems to be completely obsolete and laughable.
I know people have a lot of anger. I have a lot of anger. I think this is okay. It is fine to be angry at the government, or the other side. Anger is a perfectly normal response when we feel ignored, under-appreciated, taken advantage of. Hell, in these situations, I think it is good to get angry, to get riled up. However, that does not mean we should use that anger as a destructive or obstructive force. We should channel it and focus it in a productive way. If this means sitting down and having a tense but cordial talk with someone from the other side, then so be it. In this way we can build rational discourse and maybe actually start moving forward on real and actual solutions to the problems facing our nation. And even if we are unable to come to an agreement on what should be done, at least we will have the advantage of knowing that we not only heard but also listened to what each of us has, thereby giving us a bigger grip on the facts of things, as well as arming us with more as well as useful knowledge, and knowledge, as we all should already know (that is a terrible sentence but I am too lazy to fix it right now) is paramount to the existence and subsistence of any Democracy, even if it’s a Democratic Republic.
When we don’t take the time to listen and converse and analyze what is being said, the truth suffers and false/alarmist ideas rule the airwaves, so to speak. When this happens all hope of reason and civility is lost and we are left with nothing but fear and shouting and name calling. Oh the name calling. I know I am guilty of it myself and I am trying to stop myself from name calling because it needs to stop. Of course if we stopped calling each other names then we might actually have to start listening to each other, and as I’ve said already that seems nigh impossible at this moment in our country’s history.
To give an example, here is this article.
For those who don’t want to read the article it talks about how the TARP program–you know that thing that bailed out AIG and the auto industry among others–will actually not only most likely break even, but should earn a profit. One of the reasons for this is because of the more than 700 billion dollars allocated for the program, only a fraction of it was spent. Does it matter that only a fraction was spent? Not when people refer to it as the 700 billion dollar bail-out it doesn’t. Also, the article continues to say that even though TARP is an unmitigated success in terms of policy, it is still considered a failure in terms of public perception. One reason for this, according to the article, is because Wall Street has remained in the black while unemployment has skyrocketed, and most people do not or cannot really feel the effects of the program.
Now, I am not going to argue about whether or not TARP was a good idea because that doesn’t matter at the moment. Maybe when future generations are in a similar financial pickle (and they will be, these things are circular, you know) and are considering their options it will be worth considering the merits and flaws of TARP. What is important is that the program was a success and that U.S. taxpayers are not really going to lose any of the money the government allocated to the program, which has been one of the arguments against it.
TARP is too expensive for the American taxpayer, is simply a false statement. It is a lie, and a big one at that. Unfortunately it is one that is widely believed and shows no signs of going away, even with a push to educate the public about the truth of TARP, which goes back to my main point–conversation. TARP is not perfect, but neither is it the end all of the United States of America. It did not nationalize or socialize us, it simply helped stem the bleeding of a gushing economic wound. It did not lose money. But that lie has been told so often and so loudly that it has drowned out the truth, and now if the image of TARP is to be rehabilitated the government is going to have to shout long and loud in a vain effort to let the truth be known. And even then I don’t think perceptions will change because it will just be one more shouting match where each side tries to prove its point through volume and ridicule rather than conversation and civility.
Okay, rant over. Listen to this and be happy.