Thursday, January 10, 2013

1121 Two Great Figures, Two Wrong Quotes

1121 Two Great Figures, Two Wrong Quotes

The two figures are Cicero and Adlai Stevenson.

Age before beauty:

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance."      - Cicero , 55 BCE

And Now The former Governor of Illinois, two-time presidential candidate and one time UN ambassador:

In America, anyone can become president. It’s one of the risks we take.”

Let’s take these one at a time.


Cicero was wrong because most of us don’t understand either debt or deficit.  Neither is the evil people are expected to believe both are.

Deficit spending is necessary to end recessions.  Ultimately, countries get back on their feet.  Debt is a whole 'nother smoke.  Much of the national debt is owed to the American people, people who lend money to the government by buying treasury bonds of various denominations and at various return rates.  Everyone profits from the national debt.  We get funding for necessary programs.  Bond buyers get a decent return on their investment.

Cicero was talking about a different era.  This is not ancient Rome.  

The United States government is not a household running on a budget.  And it is not a business like Ace Hardware or Alcoa.  It is infrastructure, philosophical, legal and economic.  And the conservative notion that it is anything else is just nonsense wrapped in ignorance.

In middle school history, we learn about the three branches of government:  Executive, Legislative and Judicial.   But there is a fourth branch, capital.  Capital accounts for many of the decisions of the other three.  And it affects your life more and more directly than most of the rest.  Capital is the lubricant and the circulation system.  Movement of money is more important than the money itself.

Yes, we owe too much to China.  Yes some spending is out of control.  But a “balanced budget” is a wrongheaded pipe dream.

Follow the verbal genesis of “public assistance.”  In this country, it was first called “home relief.”  That described an effort for Americans to help less fortunate or coming on hard times to get back on their feet.

Then, we started calling it “Welfare.”  That broadened the principle.

And now, it’s either “public assistance” or “Human Services.” And by implication, that includes everyone.  Maybe we should go back to home relief.

Now for Adlai:

Not "anyone can be president."  One has to work one's way up through a corrupt and artificial two party system that is dominated by people who absolutely control nominations and often the results of elections.  

How many congressional districts are gerrymandered?  Maybe a better question is “how many are not?”

Until last year, almost every legislator was “safe” which means he or she would win relatively easy re-election just by declaring candidacy.

That’s a little less true now in 2013 because the tea party faction is ready willing and able to conduct primaries against Republicans deemed insufficiently conservative or religious or pro-gun.  That’s going to get us nowhere because anyone who wins the primary will win the election, given the shapes of the districts.

Take a look at the boundaries of your congressional district.  Chances are if you found a mole of that shape on your skin, you’d run -- not walk -- to the nearest dermatologist/oncologist.

Term limits sit on a slippery slope.  On the one hand, they would keep careerist drones out of office.  On the other hand, they would result in congressional staffers and lobbyists instead of elected officers writing and approving legislation even more than they do now.

So, Adlai and Ciccy, it’s time for a reality check.  One that won’t bounce.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

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