• Posted: Jul 15, 2011 10:51:27
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One of the most interesting phenomena to contemplate during the functioning, or some would say dysfunctioning, of America's democracy is how seldom anyone accepts responsibility for the adverse consequences of governmental actions and inactions. A noteworthy exception may be the political leadership of both parties in the state of Minnesota, who agreed yesterday to a budget compromise less than 24 hours after it became apparent beer needed pulling from store and restaurant selves because a two week old government shutdown over a budget impasse had inadvertently interrupted processing of beer distribution taxing and licensing. Under state law, no beer can be sold without proper certification. Since no Minnesotan politician wanted blame for citizens being forced to go beerless, they nearly tripped over themselves rushing back to the bargaining table. Low and behold, a compromise has been reached. Drink up, Minnesota.
Amusing to be sure, but who the heck voted into office policy makers that couldn't foresee the consequences of failing to enact a budget compromise? If you guessed "the citizens of Minnesota", you're right.
Any blame being accepted there?? Not a chance.
The celebrated words of U. S. President Abraham Lincoln describe democracy as "government of the people, by the people, for the people." But, except for small town and condominium association meetings, very few citizens participate directly in the workings of democracy. Instead, we elect representatives who are charged with performing the business of democracy for us. A practical advantage of that scheme is that individuals need not inefficiently divide their attention between personal jobs and issues at all levels of government, local to national. Instead, the work load has been divided up and given to representatives whom we "trust" will act in our best interest at the many levels of government simultaneously, in a comprehensive coordinated manner. Unfortunately, that seldom happens. Rather, representatives pursue their own narrow interests, leaving our wider, more broad-based, more long-term interests in the dust. Meanwhile, we sit back in our living rooms, watching flabbergasted from afar, feeling totally impotent, powerless, duped, and exploited.
Naturally, we want to accuse all those so called representatives of crossing us. But, who elected them in the first place? We did.
It's interesting to note that recently ever larger numbers of our citizenry seem to be waking to the need to stay involved in the workings of government. Tea-Partiers are the most vocal. Unfortunately, they also seem the most ill-informed group of citizens we have, driven by narrow-minded opinionated ideology instead of thoroughly informed judicially tempered socially responsible wisdom. Just because they want what they want doesn't make what they want something that will work for all of us, or even most of us.
We are amused by the blindness of such narrow, short-sighted, rigid thinking, as in the case of Minnesota politicians, but the near depression the world's economy has suffered during the preceding two and a half years is most definitely a product of similar blindness to consequence. In particular, ill-advised financial deregulation coupled with a near religious belief in unfettered free markets, an error in policy thinking that has yet to be addressed. And the current impasse in Washington over raising the debt ceiling is causing many of us to gnash our teeth, because it ain't going to be just beer and fishing licenses that will be snatched from us if those myopic self-serving ideologues representing us don't get down to serious responsible compromise.
No, we'd do much better to stay involved, ask our questions, seek proof of fact, contemplate both our wishes and risks, then hedge our bets. For in the end, it is we, and we alone, who will ultimately be to blame for any and all that goes amiss in this so called democracy of ours. We need deal with that fact. Sitting back dumbfounded, pointing blame at others, is not going to cut it.
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
7.4 mm 35 mm