Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Fundamental Problems with DC
We all know that there are multiple problems with Disneyland-on-the-Potomac, and how to solve them ... after all, there are about 75 attack ads per hour on television and a dozen robocalls per hour telling you that everything is the fault of one party or the other (depending on whose super-PACs are funding said ads and calls). But the problems are more basic than just the avarice and lack of ethics of the various political parties.
Yesterday I took part in a conference at which the introductory remarks were given by a senior official who encouraged us to look beyond our individual organizational agendas to come up with real solutions to the issues we were assembled to discuss. During his remarks, he noted that there were two "fundamental problems with DC" -
1. "You're not the boss of me!"
2. "I'm not paying for it!"
I know the gentleman who made those remarks doesn't read my blog*, so I can say this without fear of being accused of sucking up: I think he's brilliant.
If you peel back the layers of the onion of any major issue far enough, you'll come down to those two basic systemic problems. Think about it ...
In a city and a political and economic system filled with hard-charging, Type-A personalities, nobody wants to have to work for or answer to anyone else. Everybody has to be in charge. You can see one manifestation of this every time there's a major scandal** in the government ... the first thing that happens is that Congress holds hearings. Now, Congress never holds just a hearing (singular) - they hold hearings (plural). Every committee, subcommittee, select committee, caucus, and individual member of both the Senate and the House has to hold its own hearing because it perceives it has some sort of jurisdiction, however tenuous, that will allow its members to haul hapless witnesses to sweat under the C-SPAN lights while holier-than-thou members of Congress grill them in an attempt to demonstrate their power and authority and make the opposing party look bad. You're not the boss of me! - I have to hold my own hearings because you can't do it right, and I can gain some perceived advantage.
And the big problems never get addressed.
The other fundamental problem - "I'm not paying for it!" - is equally visible. Everybody wants the benefits and services that government can provide, but nobody wants to get stuck with the bill. This is why we have such a fiscal mess in the federal government ... taxes get cut, spending increases without regard to the loss of income, and the government has to borrow more and more money to bridge the gap and keep pleasing its various constituencies that want things for free.
And the "fiscal cliff" gets closer every day.
So, as you approach the election and think about the ridiculous ass-clownery that has replaced sober, representative government, think about the two fundamental problems. It won't solve anything, but it will help you understand where our government went off the rails ... and suggest how to get it back on them.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.
* Can you imagine that?
** Defined as "anything I can exploit to cause trouble for my political opponents."