Thursday, September 22, 2011

time to face the choices and decide

no doubt there's a lot of needless spending in the federal budget proposals circulating in congress, with the latest votes set to occur before the end of the month. in the balance is money for federal disaster relief, and whether there'll be a government shutdown over the issue of whose ox is gored:
House disaster vote sets up showdown with Senate - BusinessWeek: "FEMA has only a few days' worth of aid remaining in its disaster relief fund. The agency has already held up thousands of longer-term rebuilding projects -- repairs to sewer systems, parks, roads and bridges, for example -- to conserve money to provide emergency relief to victims of recent disasters.

The House measure contains $1 billion in immediate aid for the 2011 budget year that's about to end and another $2.7 billion for the 2012 budget year beginning Oct. 1. The Senate measure totals $6.9 billion, with $804 million proposed for the last few days of fiscal 2011."
all this wrangling is over national priorities. the particulars aren't as important than the overriding principle: is the government a force for good or is it wrecking the country.

the GOP wants to cut $1.5 in spending to encourage automakers to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, and channel the money to FEMA relief programs. the relief money is a no-brainer, but closing the government over whether fuel-efficient vehicles are a public good seems misguided.

i agree that industry should make changes to fleet efficiency on its own, but we also know that without incentives, private industry will never sacrifice immediate profits for long-term sustainability. hence, if the government isn't there to push, it won't happen. and if we don't get a handle on fuel economy, that simply puts the onus on military force in order to keep oil prices in a range that won't cripple the economy and wreck a way of life we're addicted to.

still, one gets tired of the continual bickering, all the false promises and mass delusion that fuels the national debate on role of government in society. many are looking for magical answers, and a white knight like ron paul to ride in and set everything right again. that, of course, is more about our appetite for painless solutions to real problems -- in short, a public this reality-averse will never consider two sides of any issue as long as someone is offering to take care of everything for them. yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too!

we are at an impasse. we'll of course choose to kick the can for as long as possible, but in a way the congressional republicans' intransigence is setting us up for a once-and-for-all face-off where people will have to decide. given the political situation in DC, with our amazing spineless president leading the "opposition", we're soon to feel the full brunt of declining living standards and austerity in the next few years.

this will set us up for the eventual real standoff, as those who were not paying attention or had other priorities at the time are finally tuned in to the drama that really, really matters. perhaps then, when we finally have everyone's attention, and the full implications of the choices is understood by people, we can finally have the conversation over our national values, and just what the role of government properly is.

at least, i hope it's just a conversation. with the drive towards militarized police departments, the state has already shown that it's staunchly dedicated to a status quo of money in the fewest number of hands, and those hands firmly in control. this is the government that so far is only throwing flag-waving parades for returning troops, but will rain missiles from UAVs when the going gets rough.

see you at the barricades!

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