Monday, December 31, 2012

The Physical Cliff

     Someone I love asked me to explain the “physical cliff” about a month ago.  Rather than correcting the proper delineation of that phrase, I proceeded to offer my best explanation of that which will transpire if our elected officials fail to reach a reasonable compromise on the absurdly large and pressing economic issues we face in our country.  I was happy to speak to my dear one in basic bits of data because it helped to clarify the confusion in my own mind, as well.
     Following on 30 minutes of our fumbling back-and-forth at the breakfast table, we were both reasonably satisfied that we understood the circumstances and possible ramifications of the “fiscal cliff.”    But then I had another thought: she may have had it right in the first place.  Perhaps a physical cliff rising hundreds of feet above a rocky canyon would be an effective incentive for 535 senators and representatives to make a decision.  Line them up on the edge and give them five minutes to figure out a solution.  The alternative awaits them below…
“Come senators and congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled…”
From “The Times They Are A-Changin’”
By Bob Dylan

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Electoral Absurdity

     Last month (November 2012) the U.S. electorate exposed its troubled character in a profound way. As millions of Americans entered voting booths across the country Gallup reiterated their polling numbers reporting that Congress had an approval rating of 18%. This means that of the 535 members of The House and Senate a mere 97 were considered in favorable terms. Or, looking at this from the opposite perspective, our citizens were discontent with 438 members of our governing bodies. 
     Given these astonishing statistics logic would predict a tremendous shake-up in Washington, D.C. But this didn’t happen. In fact, the re-election rate for incumbents in November was 91%. Again, in terms of actual numbers this means that 358 of 393 incumbents retained their seats in The House and 21 of 23 incumbent Senators also retained their positions. 
      What does this say about us? We are either mesmerized, paralyzed, incapable of acting logically on irrefutable data or corporately frozen in the fear of the unknown. Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these things. 
     Whatever it is, nothing will change because we have, essentially, changed nothing. Shame on you, shame on me, shame on us…