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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Super Committee Farce

I am, and always have been, from my earliest memories, a student of the English language, and, in fact, of language generally.  There are lots of reasons for this, among them, the love of language expressed by my parents and made obvious by their speech and reading habits, also, what I will call genetic predisposition (it’s baked in my cake).  In today’s world, I am aghast at what passes for English, whether in written form, or spoken.  I watch a lot of “educational” television shows, and, even there, I find that the writing is appalling, with massive numbers of errors.  I find that disturbing.  What I really find disturbing, since I am an intent observer of all things political, is the ways in which the political class has co-opted and corrupted our language.  It’s one thing to engage in political hyperbole, which has been done since the days of Tom Jefferson and Ben Franklin, but to corrupt our language in the ways politicians do for the purpose of creating a special coded hyperbole which enables the production of shorter and shorter, more efficient sound bites is disgusting to a fare thee well.  A great example of this comes to mind in the creation of the new definition for the term “personhood” which is now used to describe fertilized human embryos.  Any good semioticist will understand the value of special terms which change language and discussions.  They do this constantly in the advertisements that they design to persuade potential customers of value.

Let’s face it, the “Super” committee is definitely not super.  In fact, the super committee in Congress, convened to propose ways to reduce our national debt, is a committee which could have been designed by a combination of Aesop, Alfred E. Newman, Salvador Dali, and Edward Albee.  It is a charade, a kabuki farce, and obfuscation of serious politics.  It is emblematic of what our Congress has become, which is a governing body fully separated in thought and action from its constituencies.  On the Democrat’s side, we have a group which suffers from the idea that government is the answer to all problems social (as though it is on a holy crusade to protect those who they claim are helpless (but only by their definition), they are small minded, self-serving cry babies who really are, by using their special ideology, protecting those, not who elect them, but who sponsor them.  Then we have the other side of the same ideological coin that is the Democrats, who espouse Friedmanomics to support the idea that taxation is, de facto, morally and practically wrong.   And, therefore, it is by the simple act of continuously using inflated, unrealistic, absurd rhetoric, that both parties have painted themselves into ideological corners, and actually seem to believe that if they betray, even in the smallest way, their rhetorically enforced philosophical positions, they will lose their popularity (which, right now, is at about 9% nationally).  In fact, what the real risk is, is that they may lose the support of the wealthy constituents who sponsor their office holding by paying for their elections.

All language aside, it is phenomenally easy to find many trillions of dollars in combinations of revenue and cuts in government spending over the next ten years.  And, it do mean that it is so easy that, if I were in Congress, I would just come out and tell that story.  In revenues, I would start with completely eliminating the Code of Federal Regulations as it relates to taxes (affectionately, The Tax Code).  Then I would simply adopt the same rate structure which was in when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 (70% top bracket).  I would cut corporate taxation to 20% (obviously all exemptions would be off the table).  I would tax capital gains and interest at the regular bracketed rates as regular income.  I would cut military spending by at least 40% (which includes the 15 national security agencies).  I would make the payroll (Social Security) tax effective without income limits (it now stops at about $108K), or, alternatively, means test who gets the benefit.  I would toss out the present absurd health care system and opt for the Canadian model (effectively Medicare for All).  I would reinstate Glass-Steagall, break up all of the TBTF banks, make all meetings of the Federal Reserve public on C-Span, and require that all “derivatives” be listed on a public exchange and be fully collateralized.  I would institute a .5% transaction tax on all investment trading on all national exchanges and use the proceeds of this tax to sponsor enforcement of regulations.  I would close nearly all of the more than 800 military bases located in other nations, and stop utilizing foreign aid to control corrupt foreign leadership to our purposes (the single biggest reason for the existence of terrorists).   Obviously the Super Committee can’t do half of these things, but it can make $4 to $6 trillion in cuts and revenue increases over a ten year period quite easily.  They won’t do this.  After the failure, Congress will vote to kill the enabling legislation for this committee, including the “sequestration” which would cut into Defiance and Medicare, and they will, in effect, vote to continue to obfuscate their responsibilities in favor of continuing to kick the can down the road.  Sadly, our current political system, recently made tragically far worse by the Citizens United decision, is fully broken, and is now a full throated plutocracy, in which our democracy has been completely high jacked by the wealthy elite.

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