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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Washington Follies

As this summer rolls on like a freight train running down the track, I have been following the latest foolishness from Washington D.C.  where another institution is barreling down like a train off the tracks:  our federal government.  I have, since the 2008 finacial "crisis," been disappointed by the partisan and negative tone from both sides of the political aisle.  Over the last few weeks as debate to increase our nation's debt limit has reached the point where decisions must be made, the tone has become quite harsh. 

President Obama has made speeches and held  press conferences where he has mentioned that failure to increase the debt limit will cause seniors to miss Social Security payments and those in college to miss student loans and this use of fear has not helped.  Nor has Speaker of the House John Boehner's sudden epiphany to balance the budget through draconian spending cuts helped inspire confidence.  Where was this fiscally prudent Boehner as President Bush was spending money year after year from 2001-2009?

These leaders are bringing our country closer to the edge and it's a shame.  During the Great Depression our leaders, led by FDR, inspired Americans to keep our chins up high with a eye towards a more prosperous future.  It truely is a shame that today's leaders, who are so caught up in the 24/7 newscycle madness of the partisanship of Washington, cannot inspire the electorate because any reach out towards the other side is seen as a sign of weakness from the other.  Also in my opinion, the influence of special interest lobbies and big business has harmed our political system.  There really is no voice for the average voter.  I don't have the money to donate to a candidate, yet elections cost a great deal of money.

During this political wrangling, there has been talk of restructuring the tax code.  Yes, I agree that the rich, let's say those with incomes over $200,000 should pay more taxes.  But reform should not come at the expense of the middle hanging on to survive.  In particular, the Mortgage Interest deduction and Student Loan deduction should still have a place in the tax rules.  These are vital deductions to me as I own a home, purchased during the bubble burst, and have a student loan.  The rich have reaped the benefits of the Bush era tax cuts and even the cuts were extended for two more years.  How can you fight two wars and finance it with tax cuts????  You can't, even President Reagan raised taxes every year except for one during his presidency.

Also, our government needs to be serious about taxing our corporations who have taken jobs away from Americans during this Great Recession.  For example GE paid no corporate tax from 14.2 billion in profits earned in 2010, 5.1 billion was earned in the USA.  For more on this story see link below:

GE is one of many US corporations which pay no federal income tax.  This is astounding that our leaders let them get away with it, even as they export jobs away.  Additionally, the compenastion for the heads of these companies is obscene.  For many of these CEO's compensation which includes perks, stocks, options and bonuses can reach as high as Viacom's Philippe Dauman whose total compensation in 2010 was 84.5 million dollars.  I'll never watch MTV and Nickelodeon the same way again.

I'm sure I wouldn't complain about being compensated this high but it is quite gross and I'm sure I wouldn't want such a high compensation package.  It also begs the question:  How much is too much?  It seems that there is such an emphasis on wealth that it comes at the expense of those who have nothing. 

In closing, I wanted to comment on the SOS, Save our Schools March on Washington this weekend.  Teachers have been the targets, unfairly, at most of the ills of society and the No Child legislation has not helped with its emphasis on high stakes testing.  Let's agree on some truisms regarding teachers:

Teachers don't control the poverty level in this country. 
Teachers don't control the mass media their students are subjected to at home. 
Teachers are not greedy folks looking to make huge sums of money on the backs of our children and community. 
Standardized Tests have nothing to do with lifelong learning and critical analysis. 

In fact, I've given you examples of what's wrong in this country and it certainly isn't teachers, so big business and partisan politcians simmer down on the rhetoric and maybe we can put an end to the follies I've described.

I would love to hear back from you so leave me note below.

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