Our Yoyo Nation

One day we love President Obama and the next day we detest him, as if he is the only person responsible for putting the United States on the right or wrong path.   Hero to goat, savior to devil, all on a daily if not hourly basis.  Americans are caught between a rock and a hard place in coming to grips with our problems. Our leaders, historically and currently, are likewise playing Russian roulette with our future existence.

James Buchanan won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences (no way in hell is economics a “science”, but I digress) for his contribution called public choice theory.   This theory “in particular, studies the behavior of politicians and government officials as mostly self-interested agents and their interactions in the social system either as such or under alternative constitutional rules.”  In plain English, public choice theory recognizes the process of self-interest over the greater good in the actions of our political leaders.  Certainly this is exactly what we are witnessing in current debt ceiling negotiations.  Know also though, that the majority of Americans likewise play chicken by assuming too much risk because they think if all else fails, the government will be there to save them.  Well folks, the free-for-all party is over.

I was at my accountant’s today.  He told me a story of a man who bought a piece of property in the southern mountains five years ago for $100,000.  His intentions were to eventually build a house and retire there.  He put down $20,000.  The five years come and go, and now the bank wants their payoff, approximately $80,000.  Lo and behold, the value of the property dropped to $30,000, so our friend is deeply underwater.  The bank wants their balloon payment and will not re-finance, which is what the owner was hoping for.  The owner knew right from the get-go that the remainder of the loan was due in full after five years and that the bank made no stipulation for refinancing.  They wanted their money.  This man is livid at the bank, who could be kinder and more sensitive to the owner’s plight by modifying the loan, but they are certainly entitled to their payoff that they negotiated five years ago.

Nevertheless, what made this investor assume that all property increases in value?  Did he not even consider the possibility of a decline in real estate prices?   Individuals must be diligent and reasonable in assuming their own personal financial risk.  Our government or private industry cannot be in business to bail out every sad story.  Sure: too many people are experiencing hard times and their safety nets are disappearing.  However, when entering into any financial transaction, a person must look at all the possible outcomes.  To ignore the risks, right from the beginning, is irresponsible and just might result in total ruin.  Similarly, if the government bailed out each and every sob story, our nation would undergo ruin as well.

America loves drama.  We go from love to hate of our leaders in a heartbeat.  We work on destroying our union, instead of trying to preserve it.  The terror of 9/11 was one of those unifying events.  We use such tragedies as a method of bringing us together, even if just for a short time, as a respite from all the dissension.  Unfortunately, we need to work together, above all party lines, to ensure that the unity exists, ALL THE TIME.  The first priority needs to be the well-being of our people, not the self-interest (whether material or electoral in nature) of those in power.

The debt ceiling limit was raised SEVEN times during the eight-year tenure of George W. Bush.  I find it very interesting and quite hypocritical that now, with a Democrat, not to mention an African-American, as our President, the Republicans refuse to increase that debt ceiling.  I am convinced that they will do anything , even if it will be to the detriment of our nation’s existence, to drive Barack Obama from office.  The agenda of the GOP has nothing to do with saving our country but everything to do with saving themselves.

As an aside, I think there is only an infinitesimal chance that any taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals will be undertaken at this juncture.  President Obama, as part of the budget negotiations of December 2010, extended the Bush tax credits for another two years.  That act will not be easily undone.  Add to that today’s dismal jobs report, and lowering taxes to offset our debt is not going to happen any time soon.

So Mr. Buchanan developed this public choice theory and described a true phenomenon.  Now that we have the description of this process, it still does not mean that we have the antidote to such brazen, selfish motives.  So go ahead, love Obama one day and hate him the next.  He is still the best thing we have going for us.  He will cave to some of the GOP demands; such is the nature of our divided country and government.  Just remember this: if we bad-mouth him too severely, we are providing the conservative right with more ammunition to oust President Obama from office.  Even though the President wavers on policy and signs off on some legislation that makes us weak in the knees, we must watch our mouths and pens.  If the GOP is successful at removing the President from the White House, what we will be left with will not be a flip-flopper, but a firm, adamant party of the haves, of corporate spoils and government favors.  No excuses will be offered; they will take the reins and run directly to collect their spoils.

Adding to this stressful love-hate relationship with the President is the sensationalism of the media.  If you believe that the Limbaughs and Becks of this world are divisive, then you better believe that the Olbermanns and Maddows are also.  These broadcast journalists are being paid to voice their opinions, to create anger, to raise the threat level for all of us.  The more they incite us, the more we watch.  Their viewership and ad revenues also increase.  I also believe that despite the fact that these purveyors of sensationalism get paid big money, the constant stress and argumentativeness that their jobs require eventually affects them personally.  In one way or another, they all decompensate.  The toll on the Limbaughs and Olbermans of this world is showing.  I avoid all of those programs because I like to sleep at night.  Information and education is one thing; alarmist haranguing is quite another.

At least we have a chance with Barack Obama.  Sometimes I feel like a yoyo, bouncing all over the place in my sentiments for our President.  Yet the longer-term reality is that he is trying his damnedest to make some huge changes.  Are we taken in by his talk of hope and change?  You betcha.  And he has gotten significant legislation enacted.  Honestly though, we need a large dose of pragmatism to bring his best agenda down to earth and to accept the reality of his leadership.  He might not deliver the goods on all that he has promised, but the alternative, a GOP administration, would be an open-and-shut case, with no consideration for everyday Americans and their needs.  The boot strap theory has great relevance, but so does justice, equality and providing for those in need.   Be grateful for what we have.

In a perfect world, both political parties would rise above partisanship to face facts, deliver the necessities, austerities, innovation and prosperity that America needs.  Short of the demise of our electoral system of government or another disaster like 9/11, that is not going to happen.  In the meantime, hold steady.  Definitely continue to criticize President Obama, but do not condemn him, as that would be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.  Smile, grit your teeth and continue to fight the  good fight for the Good Man and all Americans.

POSTSCRIPT:

Re: the alarmist nature of our media.  As if we do not have enough problems on our own planet and within our own country, the Huffington Post seems to think we need even more scarier new:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/08/saturn-storm-cassini-photos_n_892683.html?utm_campaign=070811&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-green&utm_content=FullStory

Ha!  Just in case our dire predicament here at home won’t spur on advertisement revenues, perhaps this story will.  Really: was this story worthy of an Email sent to me by Arianna?

FLASHDASH:

Just in, hot off the presses (Huffington):

CNN reports that former First Lady Betty Ford, widow of President Jimmy Carter, has passed away at age 93.

ABC News has confirmed that the former first lady has died.

What do you think Gerald Ford or Rosalynn Carter would have had to say about Huffington’s truth in reporting?  Just in case the press continues to whine at all the criticism thrown at them, they might resort to a once-over, some proof-reading, before they hit that “publish” key.

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