Should we talk about the weather?
Should we talk about the government?
--REM, “Pop Song 89”
The sweltering of the plains has begun in earnest for the summer. Saturday was steamy hot--which did not preclude us from several beverages out on some friends’ deck; yesterday was slightly more brutal (except we are not sure just how brutal, since, according to the paper this morning, an equipment malfunction made it impossible to read the temperature and humidity…they couldn’t run to the nearest bank to read the sign out front?)—which did not preclude us from mowing the lawn and doing a bit of yard work in the AM; today portends to be more of the same. I planned on a fishing excursion to a nearby lake this morning, but the forecast, along with the fact that I stayed up late watching the rebroadcast of the US Women’s World Cup rousing victory over Brazil, convinced me to stay in this morning. I plan on taking the fishing trip tomorrow. The weather will most likely remain, but I will have had a bit more sleep.
In other news, I have been thinking lately about the current difficulties that we are in as a nation, specifically, that slippery eel that is the economy, which is sluggish to say the least. Here in Nebraska, we have been pretty lucky compared to many other places, but things are still far from perfect. The mayor proposed last week a hike in property taxes and wheel taxes, in order to raise revenue for roadwork and other operating costs. That still apparently will not save the jobs of some city workers.
I don’t mind paying a bit more to keep things running smoothly, to have parks and street lights, paved roads and a fire department. It is worth the extra fifty bucks a year (or so) it will cost us to maintain those services that I find important for my quality of life. And that money is collected and used by the city that I live in. Every day I can see my taxes being necessary when there is a pot-holed road, a broken water main, a darkened street lamp, or an overgrown park field.
On the federal level, however, things are a bit more complicated. I don’t see the money I send to Washington being directly spent…except on things like war, war, and war. Oh, right, we did give all those banks and car companies all that money…and we gave all those folks cash for their push-pull-drag-or-drive clunkers, so I know that money was well spent. But, it appears that the Feds are in a tougher spot than my town is. The deficit rises; revenues are stagnant. Current natural disasters will cost billions; expensive military actions are still being waged on multiple fronts. The promised jobs created by the wealthy are not materializing; some corporations are not paying any taxes. And Congress and the president can’t seem to see eye to eye on any solution.
And here is where our wonderfully balanced form of government is perhaps making things worse when it should be making things better. For, while the Senate has a Democrat majority, which (one would think) would cooperate with a president from its own party, the House is GOP-controlled. And, do you think that maybe the House majority might feel that they have an interest in keeping the economy in the tank until 2012? Wouldn't that be better for their party?
Am I a conspiracy theorist? No. Do I understand politics? Yes, I do. In that respect—the “I understand the gamesmanship of the political arena” respect—I completely understand why the House might be doing what I think it’s doing. But, I don’t like it. But, I am not going to start lobbing “evil Republican” bombs around. I am not going to point some naïve finger and say, “Hey, you red state bozos, quit holding this country hostage and fix the problem.” Nope. I am not going to do that. Because I know a few things: I know that the situation we find ourselves in is the end result of many years of (and both parties’) myopia, avarice, and lack of wisdom. I know that, were the situation reversed, the Dems would do the same thing ( not as effectively…probably more like ineffectively). I know that, most likely, even if the two sides come to a compromise, it will be, like most compromises, well, compromised, and any policy they agree upon will sound great in the paper, but will generally be toothless, useless, and maybe even more detrimental than helpful.
That does not mean I am not fired up at yet another example of party politics taking precedence over the common good. But, what do we do? We do what we always do. We pay our taxes, we try to keep calm, we carry on, we pick cucumbers, we keep the lawn trimmed, we open a beverage, we fill up the kiddie pool, and we hope that the weather breaks soon.
So it goes….