For my New Years Resolutions, I am going to think big. No, not about my waistline which will take some work, but about my country. I get criticized for using the term moron too frequently. The criticism is unwarranted. We live in a world of morons. My working definition of a moron is a person who continues to do the same thing over and over and expects a different outcome. Republicans are morons because they want to continue cutting taxes and transfer wealth to the few and think our economy will take off. Democrats are morons because they continue to pander to these ideas thinking they will win the middle. We are creatures of habit and in that habit are the seeds of moronism. But lets focus on some of the larger policies we have implemented that do not work and yet we cannot bring ourselves to change them. So think about the following and ask yourself why do we continue to implement failed ideas:
- My favorite is Cuba. We continue a policy of isolation that has failed us for almost 50 years. In China we understand engagement, but we can’t seem to bring ourselves to applying that lesson to Cuba. We let a small focused group of voters in South Florida define a policy that is counter productive and if ignored, could have brought Cuba into the 21st century years ago.
- Then there is the war on drugs. Need any illicit drug? Ask your kid and they can probably get it for you. We spend billions on a program that fails over and over, apparently from a fear that legalizing most drugs would create chaos. What do they think is going on in the drug market today? We learned absolutely nothing from Prohibition. One of my favorite quotes from the Ken Burns PBS special on Prohibition was one woman who said before the end of Prohibition you could get anything you wanted at anytime. Once alcohol was legal again, there were all kinds of limits on what, when, and where you could drink it. Think there is a lesson here?
- While we are on the topic of drugs, the ban against Marijuana is ridiculous. Its is available everywhere and that is a good thing. I have few friends whose only relief from the pain of cancer is that horrible illegal drug. I will bet if you stood in a room full of people, very few would say the have neither smoked or had access to it. Then there is the ban on hemp in this country which makes no sense whatsoever. Please, can we ever be rational? The amount of money being wasted by the Feds trying police California’s marijuana crop could go a long way to fixing our schools. By the way, whatever happened to the Republican mantra of less regulation? Only Ron Paul seems to get this one.
- Speaking of drugs, we have the resulting incarceration. Are you aware that we have more people incarcerated per capita than any other country in the world? The greatest, most powerful nation on earth warehouses a larger percentage of their population than any other country. In California it cost the same to incarcerate a person for a year as it does to send them to Stanford. Maybe we ought to rethink mandatory sentences, three strikes laws, and look at real options for rehabilitation. That would be a nice change.
- Failed Immigration Policies. Oh I love this one. If you want to know if someone really doesn’t understand our economy, see how they feel about illegal immigrants. If they launch on how illegal immigrants are stealing jobs, then you are up front and personal with a moron. Our country was built on immigration and next time you go to your high end hotel, see who is driving the cabs, making the beds and doing all those things you don’t want your children to do. My perspective here is shaped by the need for reliable and knowledgeable labor in my vineyard. I can’t hire anyone who wants to do the work at twice the minimum wage because it is very hard and trained labor from Mexico is becoming very scarce. We are putting our crops and our economy at risk while we pander to xenophobia. Worse is that we can’t recognize innocent children who are illegal and have nowhere else to go. What a country where we talk about our Christian faith and then destroy families and people’s lives so we can have a scapegoat. Get real. Pass the Dream Act, put in place a real guest worker program, and yes, get on with amnesty. Latinos make us stronger.
- Gitmo. Close it. It is an open sore on lady liberty and makes a mockery of our system of justice. And by the way, repeal all of the Patriotic act. We are starting to look like East Germany.
- Abortion. It is not about abortion, it is about giving a woman the right to make an informed decision about her body in the first trimester without government interference. How hard is that?
- Homophobia. Why is it taking so long to understand that part of the basic foundation of our government is the freedom to choose. Why are we still being led around on this by people who are terrified they might catch gayness. We should be equal under the law and gays have a natural born right to be married and face all the pitfalls of married life that the rest of us face. Thankfully on this one, most kids, unless they have been brainwashed by their Bible thumping parents, simply don’t care. They are not threatened by gays and lesbians. vive la différence
- Religion in Government. The last two items are really an example of religious intolerance. Instead of believing in the freedom to choose, many in this country only believe you get to choose from a menu from their religious beliefs and want to use government to enforce it. The founders were clear, the lessons of the enlightenment are clear, and yet a large segment of the morons in this country want to reinvent history and ignore those lessons and start religious wars again. Government is about rational decision making, not faith based dogma. And organized prayers in school – whose prayers? What part of tyranny of the majority did these people not understand when the Bill of Rights was established?
- Infrastructure and Taxes. On this one it is really simple. We have been cutting taxes for years now. We have the lowest rates and smallest percentage of GDP as revenue from taxes in 50 years. There are no jobs, the rich are getting richer, our infrastructure is falling apart, our kids are being priced out of higher education, and our Treasury is empty. Refute any of those facts. So we are going to elect Republicans and do more of this lower taxes/less regulation thing? We need massive investment in our water and sewage systems, roads and mass transportation, schools and higher education, and we think the market place is going to provide this? When has it ever? But let’s cut taxes and expect things to change. Morons rule.
- TSA and screening. Don’t you love going to the airport? Still taking off your shoes because a moron tried to light his on fire, and still getting full body screening because another moron tried to blow up his underpants? No other country in the world does this. The most threatened and effective system is that of the Israelis and they profile. Are we wasting tons of money on screening people who are no threat to the country when we should be focusing on behavior and profiling to identify real threats? The people who are most effective at this business think so.
- Here is one outside the box: Political Party primaries. We can all agree that the caucus system is stupid where in Iowa, less than 4% of the population decide who is the candidate that gets their votes at the convention. But the whole system of political party primaries is simply focusing the electorate on the extreme which has nothing to do with the general election. So, and this is not a new idea, open up the primaries to all voters. Top two or three vote getters get on the general election regardless of party. Think that might force the nation back to the middle and this moronic pandering to the least inform in our country? Do we really need conventions? Well maybe if you suffer from insomnia. Okay, maybe this idea has a hole or two in it, but are we getting the candidates we want now?
- National health care. The rest of the world uses some kind of a single payer system and control cost so much better than we do with better outcomes (I dare you to try to refute any of those facts and they are facts) and we can’t figure this out? So we muddle on with employer based health care and private insures and then are shocked, shocked, shocked that cost continue to spiral out of control. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?
- Energy policy. We continue to subsidize fossil fuels to the tune of trillions of dollars and then say let the market place work for alternate energy. If only we would and level the playing field by ending our subsidies and making fossil fuels pay for their environmental and health damages. Oh I am such a socialist.
- Speaking of TSA and energy policy, why are we the only industrialize nation in the world that does not have a high speed rail system. Even Mexico has one. This is a smart investment in our future and for those who say it cost too much, read the history of the transcontinental railway and how it would not have been built without massive government subsidies. It opened up our country. And for you competition nuts, wouldn’t you like an alternative to airplanes? We really needed that after 9/11 when planes were grounded, but everyone has forgotten those days and those lessons.
- Here is another of my favorites: Super majorities for almost everything. We are a country in paralysis and it is because the majority is no longer good enough. In many states we have a two-thirds majority required to raise revenue. In the Senate we have the filibuster where the minority can control the agenda. Change is hard. Doing something different is scary. It is hard enough to make the hard decisions with a majority. It is impossible with a super majority where we let the minority control everything. We will always have a minority that is clueless. The Constitution set aside what would require a two-thirds majority. We should have trusted their wisdom and not tinkered with the system.
- “The problem with Medicare and Medicaid is out of control cost growth and the only way to resolve it, is to cut benefits.” I love this one. Since most countries pay half what we do for similar programs maybe the issue is not what we cover, but how much we pay for it. Maybe, oh just maybe, fee for service is the worst way to control costs.
- Last but not least, the role of government. This argument has been going on forever and the answer, if anybody looks at our history is obvious. All our major achievements that have allowed the engines of job creation and wealth to operate has been done by our government. The rest of the world has figured this out and you ought to watch China. Government is to set the big bold goals for our country and then put in place the incentives to allow industry to do it. The government has to build the 21ast century infrastructure and provide a well educated and healthy workforce. Left to the market place, we are approaching last place. But don’t worry. If we want to go to the moon, the Chinese might give us a ride. The Russians are already our taxi of choice to get to our own space station. We don’t need no stink’in taxes.
Well, there you have it. For me all these are obvious as I sit on my hill over looking my vineyard with a glass of wine in hand and ponder on our path. I guess when you are running around in the day to day crush of activities and pressures, it fogs your mind. That is only way I can explain why we keep doing so many stupid things over and over again and expecting anything to change. Isn’t it time to stop having the same stupid arguments and move off the dime? Sadly at the end of 2012, I will probably have the same complaints. The bright spot this year was the revolt of the unions in Wisconsin and the 99% OWS movement. Maybe there is hope. I hope so. Happy New Year.