I had a chance to attend Easter Sunday Service at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Laguna Niguel. It was a standing room only service and it was wonderful to see such a reinforcement of Faith.
As I listened to the service, my mind again drifted away to Washington and the continued budget deliberations. I thought about the debate about the future of healthcare and jobs. I thought about the looming political marketing campaign–otherwise known as the Presidential Campaign–that has already begun in earnest. It is more of a beauty contest as Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and a whole host of characters are throwing their hat into the ring. The one that I enjoy and loathe at the same time is “the Donald”. I admit I am a fan simply because of his business acumen and how he was able to come back after being almost left for dead. There is something to be said for such men with backbone. I do wonder how long he can ride out the “birther thing” that all mainstream conservatives are dismissing as a non-starter.
As we are witness to the Presidential Beauty Pageant and the complacent media before us, the World has continued to implode and change before our very eyes. What has happened in the Middle East is nothing short of remarkable. It has been a grass-roots effort that prompted many to rethink long-standing beliefs. It is startling to see someone like Hosni Mubarak who up to five months ago could do no wrong is now confined to a Cairo Military Hospital under virtual arrest for corruption. Beyond the World, though, there are the continued challenges at home.
I saw reports over the past two weeks that the economy is improving. But, it again seems that the “happy talk” is just it: Happy Talk. The April 14, 2011 edition of USA Today’s headlines read, “….Percent working lowest since ’83”. Wages have continued to be stagnant. Hiring continues to be anemic, although McDonalds just went on a hiring binge on April 19 because many of its’ locations are going 7×24. I actually told one of my regular “street corner” people about it. I saw her today occupying a different corner at Walmart again trying to do what she could. As I dropped off a 12-pack Soda for her, I asked how she was doing. She continued to be optimistic despite the odds against her.
A local association in Laguna Niguel, in a recent newsletter to its’ members, noted that the association deliquencies are running at $ 62,000 per Month due to assessments not being paid. This is as the top 1% of the Country continues to build upon the achievements and are about to receive ever more benefits if the so-called Ryan Plan goes into effect. What I found amazing was how the quest for tax cuts seems to be the order of the day. It appears that the burden is increasingly shifting away from the corporate tax payer to the individual tax payer. My initial thought was confirmed
I have viewed the current crop of Republicans who wish to be President with amusement. They all remind us of that simple principle of American Exceptionalism.
What is amusing to watch is how everyone is falling over themselves to be fiscally responsible. I think anyone who does not understand that how Government has to change to adapt to changing times needs to have its’ head examined!! There is a need for the State as the population ages. I have to wonder all those who say that Government does too much will feel the same way as Tornadoes and Tsunamis ravage areas of the Country and people are left to fend for themselves.
The President made it clear in his column for the April 14, 2011 edition of USA Today about the need to be honest about the scale of the problem being faced. The problem is that this call for Honesty was a bit overrated when I saw that all this fight and the looming threat of a Government shutdown resulted in a mere 352 Million Dollar in actual savings. We were subject yet again to the same games and tactics that the President promised to stop and the Republicans wanted to stop too when they were given a supposed mandate to change.
Although there are always areas whereby savings cam be made, one of the more crazy proposals was a proposal to cut the Selective Service System. At a mere 24 Million Dollars per year supported by a network of 11,000 Governor-Nominated, Presidentially appointed boards who are on standby in the event the need for the draft arises. There are a whole host of State and Federal laws that have to be rescinded. Yet, a Republican Congressman decided to submit a budget request to gut the program. It was soundly defeated, but it underscored the reckless regard for understanding the essential nature of Government and its’ central role which seems to be forgotten in this zeal to cut, cut, cut. The War on Earmarks is another one that has just engulfed its’ latest victim: The National Writing Project. According to a recent report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, The National Writing Project is the one national project that sought to improve how writing was taught. As I assessed this, I wondered where the true priorities lie–if there are any.
As I have been trying to understand the impact of the cuts, I was reminded about tax cuts and how we continue to feed the fiction that somehow tax cuts will create jobs and be “stimulative”. If there is no money, then why are there tax cuts being given? Why are the Republicans so hellbent on continuing to extend the tax breaks because they are not contributing to economic growth at all. What I found frankly beyond the pale was when I saw a front page story in a recent edition of the Orange County Register noting how California-based companies had virtually paid no state income tax as the burden of taxation increasingly shifted towards the individual taxpayer which in turn push the deficit higher and higher. This is as the Republicans in the State Legislature continue to stick by their pledge of no new Taxes.
While I read the Orange County Register Story, I was reminded of a comment that Tom Friedman made as he talked about his book, the “World is Flat”. He noted that policies had to be pursued so that US based companies could continue to be innovative and to create the future. Otherwise, US based companies will emerge as only “post office” locations only. What Tom Friedman did not realize is that it is already happening. GE derives almost 40 percent of its’ revenue from overseas and paid virtually no income tax in 2010. Many critical functions by US based companies have been moved overseas–although there is a supposed movement to bring some services back.
As the Washington crowd continues to live it up, the people on Main Street continue to struggle on. I continue to marvel at the disconnect between Main Street and K Street. I also thought about another one of my regular “Voices” who was back across from Laguna City Hall with his ever fading “Need Work” sign wondering whether someone will somehow provide him the opportunity to make enough money to live another day.