Get It Together… and Give a Little

The election is over… and the change favors, clearly but not overwhelmingly, the President’s program [and not necessarily the Democratic agenda], despite any rhetoric from the right.  What is also clear, however, is that the American people expect both parties get to work and hammer out solutions, rather than standing on extremist rhetoric.  What support for that claim is there?  For one thing, in districts or states where the demographics weren’t overwhelmingly loaded on one side or another, the majority of true extremist candidates from either party who were seeking either re-election or election were unsuccessful.  For another, there were more women and minorities elected to the Senate and the House, reflecting a wider perspective than the “rich white male” viewpoint largely represented by the current Republican Party, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.  And at a time when the Republican Party advocated massive change and when most Americans have expressed concerns about the direction of the country, the Republicans actually lost seats in both the House and the Senate. That’s anything but a mandate for continuing obstinacy.  Yet Democrats must also realize that gaining a few seats and winning the Presidency by only a few million votes is also not a mandate for pressing radical agendas.

In practice, this means, if the President and Republican leaders are serious about bringing the nation together and resolving the fiscal cliff and other problems, that each party is going to have to give up some ground.  The Democrats are going to have to stop avoiding the fact that government cannot continue deficit spending indefinitely.  They should stop insisting that professionals who make $250,000 are “rich,” and they’re going to have to broaden the tax base to make sure that more of the “47 percent” who pay no federal income tax pay at least some tax, because, like it or not, Social Security and Medicare taxes don’t pay for federal government programs. They’re also going to have to take a hard look at existing federal programs and cut back or eliminate those that are wasteful or not critical. They’ll also have to realize that because the economy is still fragile, the necessary effective increases in taxes need to be gradual and minimal… and not targeted at any one group. They also need to realize that the Republicans are not wrong about everything, that such proposals as tort reform and a rethinking of the entire corporate tax structure are in fact vital and necessary.  They also need to recognize that “wealth” is not income, and that even though a tiny minority of Americans has too great a concentration of wealth, for overall continued economic prosperity, government cannot redress that balance through immediately slapping huge higher taxes on the “rich.”

The Republicans, on the other hand, need to realize, first of all, that “no” to everything is not a viable agenda for the good of the country.  They also need to understand that when too many people have too little income, they cannot make ends meet, let alone purchase goods and services that fuel business growth and jobs expansion.  They also going to have to swallow effective increases in taxes, whether through allowing rates to rise – but gradually – or through the elimination of excessive tax breaks – such as mortgage interest deductions on mansions and multiple homes and the elimination of favorable tax treatment of classes of income available only to the truly wealthy – such as carried interest for hedge fund traders and managers.

Both sides need to come to agreement on a viable immigration policy, since the current non-policy is essentially based on “don’t look and don’t do anything,” an approach that blocks the most valuable individuals from immigrating to the United States and ignores the discrimination and abuses imposed on the children of illegal immigrants… not to mention the enormous waste of government resources and human potential.  Again… simply putting up fences won’t work, especially once the economy recovers.

I’ve scarcely touched the surface of what needs to be addressed, but the same parameters apply to the other problems – practical and workable compromises are necessary, and standing on inflexible “principled” rhetoric will only worsen the problems.  Nor will promising “compromise” with rhetoric, but failing to offer substantive concessions to the other side.

None of this will be anything but tortuous, and painful…but it is necessary. Will it happen?  I have no idea… but I can point out the necessity to everyone I can… and hope.


13 thoughts on “Get It Together… and Give a Little”

  1. Kanonfodder says:

    Reading your blog entry reminds me of the majority of your stories. Your views are what should be done, and has to be done, much like your protagonists. However, much like your books, I am almost absolutely certain, that none of what should be done, will be done. We will continue our downward dystopian march, until it breaks. Then comes the million dollar question, of what comes out of the other side.
    I always enjoy your books and the reflections on societies and peoples.

  2. Gene Brandt says:

    Well said. Thank you.

  3. Joe says:

    Productivity gains since the 1970s have gone mostly to owners of capital not employees. Equity is how you get rich. This trend will continue: as automation becomes cheaper and more flexible we will need fewer employees. In other words there are and will be more people living outside our economic system.

    Those who cannot play within it will riot unless provided with a minimum of resources. Consider Athens today, the French Revolution, or even the Boston Tea Party: people revolt from oppression. Americans’ tolerance for repression should be lower than French peasants since they were brought up on the notion that everyone should have a fair chance and not to believe that the lord of the manor was appointed by God.

    The ideology that we live in a meritocracy means the unsuccessful only have themselves to blame, even though the current financial recession proves otherwise. People are not unaware of this and have adopted a different ideology — that God loves them, and that if they only just obey him, they will do ok. I’m of course speaking of the Christian right.

    This century we will also be dealing with climate change. More fires, more floods, more hurricanes, more droughts, more arctic spells. That means less food will be available to all at the same time people struggle to hold down a job. Energy prices will increase (peak oil, carbon tax, renewables, etc) at the same time as the need for energy increases for cooling, heating and automation.

    Given that backdrop, mere tinkering to the system will not suffice. So I would argue that we do need radical ideas, where radical means “Relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough”. And at some point we will need to implement them.

  4. I suspect you’re right, but you can’t implement radical ideas without resources — financial and otherwise — and that means financial/fiscal reform has to precede infrastructure, environmental, and physical change.

  5. kanonfodder says:

    I read an interesting article today. The premise was that regardless of the national elections, each state’s electoral makeup is becoming more and more one-sided. I think, if we as a country, have any chance of surviving as one entity, this trend with both sides reclaiming their 10th amendment rights, is the only possibility.

    I saw a petition on drudge today where the citizens of Louisiana want to secede peacefully. My personal opinion is that with the current political makeup of the country, as individuals, we would benefit if the country were to split into individual regional nations.

    There really is a maximum number of people you can have in a society and effectively govern, regardless of the philosophy (left/right). Once you exceed this number, the effectiveness decreases. Corruption, outside money, and special interest groups take hold. Regardless of intentions when a government is formed, eventually power will migrate to a higher tier if one exists. The original US Constitution meaning reflected a coalition of nations forming an alliance. With Lincoln and the Civil War, that was the point when, as a nation, we decided that the preservation of the alliance, trumped the individual states rights. Once that premise was established, it was just a matter of time, albeit over a hundred years, before we get to our current dysfunctional monstrosity.

    As an aside, must be pretty nice living in a state with a large LDS makeup, for if we do go down the TEOTWAWKI scenario. I don’t know which area of UT you live in, but when I was looking to move from CT a couple years ago, I wanted to move to the mountain west. Wife is from SC, with aging parents. Guess where I ended up moving. It is interesting with the interactions with people here. A lot more “salt of the earth” type, but I think they also see what is coming, and money allowing, are stocking up. Of course I spend too much time on, so I’m pretty much on the doom and gloom side of things.

  6. Dean Warren says:

    HI. Remember your reader who didn’t like you turning your protagonist in your last novel into a weapon of mass destruction? That’s me.
    Reur comments, I hope we go over the cliff because then we have a chance to cut our imperialistic reach and the bizarre defense budget. That’s how to cure our deficit.
    By the way, I’ve just self-published a book of short stories. IMAGININGS. Look it up on Xlibris, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.
    I’ve ordered your new novel.
    Dean Warren

  7. Jake B. says:


    I went and looked at the nonbinary cartogram for 2012 ( based on the one that Gastner, Shalizi, and Newman put together in 2004 ( only to find you are right: while there is a lot of purple in the mixed graphs, there actually is less than 200. Personally I would be happier if there was even less red, but I agree there seems to be more polarization.

  8. Jack says:

    Amen! You said a mouthful. I dont believe that any politician in this country has the spine to make the necessary changes in the way our government works. There are too many vested in the way things run now. Those people who go into office with good intentions quickly get caught up in the gravy train, and lose there soul. Local, state, federal, corporate, charity, ngo. Its all the same. Greed overcomes good sense. The toilet was flushed decades ago, and we are looking up as the world swirls by, just before the final plunge into darkness. What is that old saying about the Roman Senate and the city burning? As Kanonfodder said above, what will come out on the other side? Utopia? not likely. a republic? Maybe a People’s republic. Dictatorship? Probably. Maybe prayer is such a bad thing.

    1. Jack says:

      Correction: Maybe prayer is NOT such a bad thing.

  9. Alan says:

    As always, hope springs eternal. We may hope that the politicans we have elected will not only follow through on their promises, but listen to the electorate which put them in place. However, too many people believe any politican can make a difference. Alone they have little to no impact. the system is too complex and large for any one politican to advance his own agenda successfully without compromising along the way.

    Often times that compromise is what he said he would accomplish in office. As with the Presidential race, the majority of people scream about what the President doesn’t accomplish, but fail to realise he does not effect change on his own. He must have the support of the Congress and Senate.

    To change the finacial, immigrant and myraid of other problems a successful coalition from all sides must be formed. Fighting to bring together that sort of political congress is a long and difficult battle. Regardless of the ‘spine’ and strength of will of indvidual politicans, the likelihood is small that they can accomplish something.

    On another note, at Dean, I would invite you to look at the larger picture. Defense budget spending may be the single largest portion of the pie, for federal spending, but do you know how that money goes out? A lot of people do not recognize that when talking about DoD spending, you’re not talking about planes, bullets and ships. But also about infastructure within the US and abroad. You’re talking about local economies. Submarine Base Groton, CT for example, if closed, would decimate that area of CT. The same can be said for Kings Bay, GA and the submarine base there. Scattered across the country are Army and Air Force bases that provide a huge internal economy that drives regions of this country.

    When coupled with the dollar multiplier effect caused by goverment spending, any major change to the DoD budget has huge impacts to the local economies of many towns and cities. My last reading on the subject was a 1:6 ratio. For every dollar spent by the Fed on DoD components resulted in six dollars generated in local economies. This results from the soldiers who spend their pay checks on groceries in the local Stop and Shop, to the military house wife who buys gas at the corner store. The local military base’s hiring of cleaning companies out in town to come on base and clean office spaces, and the military units purchasing of new cleaning supplies each week.

    That complex which is fed by DoD spending is so large that simply reducing it outright would shatter our economy. Additionally, there are reasons aplenty to have a strong military. A great many of which should be rapidly apparent upon review of events around the world. Should the US up and disarm, I suspect you’d rapidly find yourself speaking another language.

    1. Dean Warren says:

      I’m a retired executive of the major defense contractor, Lockheed, thus I know something about defense waste. Two categories and examples are:
      Hardware; Do we need two advanced fighter aircraft under development when no aircraft can outperform our current inventory? Why spend @12 billion a year deploying ICBM killers when demonstration has failed?
      Pax American: We’ve military deployed in over 100 foreign countries, airports and supply depots, Generals in charge of Africal and South America, for Rumsted’s sake!

  10. Tim says:


    Sometimes you need two solutions to the same problem to make one succeed.

    I agree with your concern over ICBM killers but the issue that the decision makers have to deal with concerns the risk of failure, and that is not easily quantifiable.

    The key disk on for the US is to balance an enhanced defence budget against an improved domestic infrastructure. Does the US really need 11 very large aircraft carriers for example?

  11. Wine Guy says:


    Does the US need 11 large aircraft carriers? Does it need a 400 ship navy?

    Does the Army need 10 active divisions?

    Does the Air Force need….

    The questions you’re really asking are:
    1. Does the US need this much military?
    2. Does the US need to use its military for its current missions?
    3. Are the current missions appropriate/justified? Do current operations accurately reflect our national interests?
    4. Can we trust our allies to help us with our national defense?
    5. If there is to be a reduction of any sort… what do we do with the personnel and equipment? Are you willing for your personal economic situation to be affected by a reduction in forces?

    My personal answers:
    1. Yes. What we have isn’t balanced well for what I perceive as future needs, but I’m a private citizen with former USN time, not a true future ops planner with access to real information.
    2. No, but as much as we hate to admit it, Iraq and Afghanistan have turned our soldiers into veteran – highly effective veterans. Only Israeli troops have seen more action.
    3. No, tied to #2, of course. We could be doing better with less and we need to be spending more time thinking about China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and did I mention China? How about China’s long term plan to claim most of the South China Sea, that has 80% of the US West Coast oil from the middle east pass through it?
    4. No. They all have their specialties because the US takes over the bulk of everything else. And we wouldn’t/don’t permit them to bring large units over to our lands intact in any event.
    5. a: don’t know. What do you do with a nuclear reactor from an aircraft carrier and the specially trained personnel who maintain it? b. me personally? No, I am not.

    A long winded answer to a naive initial question.

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