28 October 2005

On why Americans are disengaged from the political process

I finally figured out why Americans are apathetic towards politics in this country. After I came back from a two-week vacation last June I was in one of the best moods I have ever been in my life. For those two weeks I did not pay attention to national or world events. I went hiking and sightseeing and truly relaxed. I did not watch television or listen to the radio. I spent time with my family. We discussed politics occasionally, but no heated arguments, we were amongst family after all. Shortly after coming back to the real world I started paying attention to news and listening to the talking heads. My mood started to darken. I now shout at the radio and TV regularly because I am so pissed off at the demagogues on the left and right. It seems at times that, as before my vacation, I am the only one that gets it. I am sick of the “corruption” of our political system from the federal to the local level. Money talks and common sense walks. Politicians no longer think of what is best for the American people (maybe they never have), but rather what keeps them getting elected and what is “politically” popular with their constituency. As these thoughts converged in my brain of average intelligence I discovered why Americans do not want to discuss politics or engage in the political system… ignorance is bliss.

Just once I would like to meet a politician that thinks like I do. This politician would serve the people that elected him or her. However, getting elected is not about how much pork you can bring back to your district; it is about using common sense to help the people of your district and America as a whole. It is about fighting for the future of America and not saddling future generations with huge debt or ill-conceived programs. This politician would support common sense legislation even if that would mean he or she would not get reelected. This politician would not bow down to the lobbyists who throw money wantonly around Washington, D.C. and our state capitals for one cause or another. This politician would realize the importance of honesty, fairness, dignity, compassion, and common sense. This politician would reject the demagogues.

Alas, no such politician exists or will ever exist.

1 November 2004

We need meaningful change. From the media to our government.

The economy is not in shambles as the media would like to portray. Have we increased the number of jobs in the U.S.? Yes, there is a 5.4 percent jobless rate (envy of the EU). Is the economy growing? Yes. Are there lower paying jobs? Yes. You cannot compare the unsustainable years of the internet bubble to today’s job market. President Bush inherited a recession. September 11 took a huge toll on the economy (1 million jobs lost). That takes time to recover from. What about outsourcing? Well, if you look at the facts and not a distortion by the media, you will see that the majority of jobs lost are not due to outsourcing, they are due to productivity increases. In other words, we are working ourselves out of our jobs. How do you to create jobs? You have to grow your economy. Companies have to grow. To remain competitive with other companies the world over, they must reduce operating costs. Unfortunately, outsourcing is a necessary evil. It reduces operating costs. When the company grows again, it may then be able to add stateside jobs. Here is another way to look at it. Outsourcing provides jobs to people in less developed countries. If they have a job they are more likely to be peaceful and buy goods from us instead of turning to fundamentalism and try to destroy us. As bad as it is to lose jobs to outsourcing, we have to take a more pragmatic, bigger picture of the world economy and our place in it.

Both political parties are undesirable in my opinion. Neither has a meaningful plan to save Medicare or Social Security. We are heading into a financial disaster (which is coming fast) no one wants to discuss because it is not a “sexy” topic. The Democrats do not see the problem and assume tax increases will solve everything, while the Republicans see the problem but think supply-side economics will solve everything. Neither party is be willing to make the hard choices needed to maintain these programs: cuts in government spending, cuts in social security and Medicare benefits, and an increase in taxes. Americans need to change the way they think. We need to have a frank discussion of what needs to happen so that we can keep our promise to those retiring but not bankrupt our future at the same time. I am 32-years old and have already concluded that I will not be getting a social security check when I retire. Both Republicans and Democrats have no plan to fix it the way it needs to be fixed. If I ran my books the way our government runs its, I would have been bankrupt tens times over. Our lawmakers are too busy focusing on the small cracks and are simply ignoring the huge crevices.

We need to come together and debunk this hypothetical division the media is so keen to point out. I, for one, do not the see the division. I see a minority of leftists and a minority of rightists arguing with each other. The independent minded, more centrist majority of this country (me included) just does not understand this "divided nation" bull. We were so united after September 11, 2001. I was very proud to be an American and see the nation come together, I still am. Unfortunately, Americans, which tend to have a short attention span, soon forgot that unity. I still hear complainants in the media about the 2000 election and now the 2004 election. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Does anyone but an extreme Al Franken-like zombie liberal care?

You may ask yourself what exactly am I trying to say? We need Americans to stop and think about what is important. We need to look at our society and how we are portrayed by the world (Hollywood is not helping by putting out all the mindless crap on the airwaves – reality TV and other mind dulling, drool inducing crap to say the least). We need to ignore the pundits and come up with our own conclusions based on the facts. We need reporters to report the facts and not opinions. We need to say to our lawmakers (both Republican and Democrat), enough is enough. We need pay-as-you-go reinstated. We need meaningful entitlement reform. We need our representatives to be there for us and not be a politician working for themselves and special interests (that goes for both parties in case you think it is just a Republican problem). We need to stand up to the status quo and say enough is enough, do what is right for once, not what is convenient.

On losing shining stars before their time…

It is very sad to me when someone so young and full of promise dies. Youthful vigor and optimism are replaced by a cold and lonely place in the earth. A life cut short due to tragedy; cancer, AIDS, or some other disease does not seem fair to me. Why should this person with so much potential be taken away while I should remain? A deep sadness invades my soul. What do I have to offer? What have I offered? Through my sadness, all the regrets I have in life well up within. What if I had done this instead of that?

Those of us, like me, that live life without really experiencing it just wander day in, day out worried about the most inconsequential bull shit. Am I making enough money? Is my car cool enough? Am I dressed right? The list goes on and on. We lose sight of what is important. We become obsessed with the minutia and forget to see the bigger picture. We are so consumed with mundane aspects of everyday life that the magnitude of losing truly good people to a tragic event before their time is lost on us.

Life is too short to worry about whether your café latte is properly prepared. We should focus on what is important. Family, Friends, Community. That is what is important.


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Steven Sieber said...

"Just once I would like to meet a politician that thinks like I do. This politician would serve the people that elected him or her."

I'd like to think that I'm that person. I agree with you about the state of politics in America. I plan on running for the Missouri House of Representatives in the near future.

I just recently graduated from Mizzou with a BA in Political Science.

Right now, I'm just trying to learn as much as I can. I promise to do what is best for Missourians and Americans with a complete disregard for politics as usual.

You can check out my blog The Journal of a Future President at http://blog.stevensieber.com/.

Remember, there are centrists like me, who are honest and really want to reform American politics.