Can A Ship Sail Right Over The Edge Of The Earth?

“The U.S no longer has a well-functioning self-government. . . .  American democracy has been hacked. The United States Congress, the avatar of the democratically elected national legislatures in the modern world, is now incapable of passing laws without permission from the corporate lobbies and other special interests that control their campaign finances.” 

The above quote is from Al Gore’s new book, “The Future.” It makes sobering reading as the U.S. ship of state drifts, apparently rudderless, toward “sequestration.” Is the bridge abandoned? Have the helm and the engine room broken down?

I don’t understand the panic over sequestration, but I am concerned about the ability of U.S. government institutions to function.

Sequestration, after all, is only budget cuts; not the end of the world. I’m generally opposed to austerity, but I think the consequences have been greatly exaggerated. Nearly everyone agrees we need to reduce government spending, after all. Under sequestration, about half the cuts will come from the defense budget, and that’s a good thing.

The American taxpayer can’t afford to maintain the defense-industrial complex in a perpetual state of war, with power extending around the globe. It’s counterproductive. We should be spending the money on rebuilding our infrastructure. Sequestration looks like our best chance to regain control of the defense budget.

There will be pain and layoffs in the defense contracting sector. But the Army, Navy and Air Force will remain large and powerful, and fully capable of defending America. They just won’t be trying to defend the whole world.

More significant, in my mind, is the repeated inability of the President and Congress to cooperate on issues like the debt ceiling and sequestration. What, exactly, is behind this deadlock? How serious is the dysfunction? If they were arguing over a specific law or a specific program, that would be one thing. But they’re willing to deadlock in a way that threatens serious damage to the functioning of government and economy.

“U.S. government is now almost completely dysfunctional, incapable of making important decisions necessary to reclaim control of its destiny.” — Al Gore in “The Future.”

I’ve written before about the deep political division between Blue America and Red America following the last two presidential elections.

Not to be melodramatic, but sometimes it almost seems to me as if someone, or some faction, is trying to bring down the U.S. government.

Maybe I’m just paranoid. I hope so. What do you think?

— John Hayden

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3 Comments

Filed under Books, Debt crisis, Democracy, Economy, News

3 responses to “Can A Ship Sail Right Over The Edge Of The Earth?

  1. No, you’re not being paranoid. The US is on it’s way down the tubes. I think the only way out is if the citizens climb out of their debt. So many citizens are in debt that it’s hurting the banks, and going up from there.
    Another thing that must change is the credit card system of perpetual debt. I worked two full time jobs for 10 years to get out of credit card debt, it is nearly impossible to do.
    These two things are a wet blanket, smothering the US.

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    • I agree, credit card debt is insidious. But the PARADOX is that human beings worldwide are no longer much valued for what they PRODUCE in the economy (Machines handle most of the production). Human beings are now needed in the economy primarily as CONSUMERS. Worldwide, if consumers don’t consume — and consume more and more — the economy can’t continue steady growth, and the whole system is in jeopardy. So we have a system that constantly pushes consumers to buy and encourages them to buy on credit, to grow the economy. But then both governments and consumers are penalized on the other side for debt. I think we worship the false god of continuous economic GROWTH too much; but I’ll admit, I don’t understand the entire dynamic.

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  2. Pingback: Short Notes ~ Sequestration | Notes from a Southern Kitchen…

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