Dysfunctional Politics

When can we be sure when our political system has gone so "nuts" and become so incredibly dysfunctional that we must be concerned that anything is ever accomplished by elected officials? When a bill to provide medical and health benefits to the true heroes of 9/11/01, the rescue workers, is filibustered in Congress, so that it could not even be voted on, because some legislators felt it was the best way to "hold hostage" other legislators to assure that they extend the tax benefits bill, perhaps we have exceeded the limits or edge of human decency? Whether one supports extension of the tax cuts or opposes it is not the issue here, but rather the political reasoning that makes one believe it is proper and okay to simply use such a tactic!

Depending on the political spin, the bill has been described as an extension of the Bush tax cuts, a tax reduction (or conversely, if not extended, a tax increase), necessary, or excessively costly. While all the politicians have seemingly endorsed the extension for the middle class (being defined as couples earning under $250,000), the debate has been about extending the cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The more heated debate has been about the provision regarding the Estate tax, with discussions ranging from stating that any estate tax is wrong, to a debate regarding at what dollar figure it "kicks" in. Certainly a debate regarding estate taxes over $3.5 million or more does not directly impact the majority of Americans, yet the loss of that tax revenue might impact substantially. Bundled together in this legislation that has been described as a compromise is the extension of unemployment benefits. When one considers that the official unemployment rate is still close to ten percent, one can readily see how much that will cost.

One might objectively question how anyone can refer to themselves as being fiscally responsible when agreeing to continue deficits approaching two trillion dollars. Yet, while elected officials enjoy posturing about how responsible and responsive they are to the needs of the public, one might question how America will pay for all this, and for how many generations will the interest payment on the national debt continue to be a burden on this nation.

Commodities remain at or near all time highs. Gold is very high because so few people are confident in the economy, or any currency, and many view gold as a hedge. Oil and gas prices are rapidly escalating, and a gallon of gas is at a near record high. Yet, our politicians don't include gas prices in their indexes, and don't want to remember than many manufacturers have merely created smaller sizes, and say we have very little inflation. I think we have reached that point of being dysfunctional!


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