Category Archives: Congress

Breaking the Pattern. (Isn’t it about time?)

Monday, June 25, 2012

It’s gotten to the point that a dysfunctional Congress (the President included) has become our most important problem – more important even than the economy because, unless and until Congress becomes functional, it’s not going to deal effectively with any of the critical economic, fiscal and social issues we’re facing.

We’re all about patterns. Some of them are dictated by work. Others are just the way we do things, the sequences of events and habits that express and define who we are. To no small extent, we are and become what we do.

The problem with patterns is that they’re hard to break, even when it’s blatantly clear that the patterns aren’t helping us and may even be detrimental. It’s just too easy to keep doing things the same ways we always have.

Complaining about Washington, about the “Washington” that is our federal government, is a tradition that reality, as of late, is turning into a bad joke. Our Congress does next to nothing and what it does do, it does poorly. Way too much politics, not enough careful study and collaborative making of creative, effective legislation. Money, specifically the costs of getting elected, has made matters worse, has subverted the whole idea of elected representation, of “one person, one vote.”
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Why Congress never gets anything done.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hi. Ever wonder why Congress never gets anything done, never gets around to solving the really big problems? Well, my muse.. Yes, I have a muse. (What? You don’t?) As you can imagine, she’s very important to me, this particular muse. So I married her, lest she get away and a-muse someone else.

“So what do you think is wrong with Congress, honey?” I asked her recently, expecting a lengthy, intellectually sophisticated response worthy of her considerable intelligence.

“I think they’re all a bunch of yahoos,” she responded, without hesitation, cutting to the quick as muses sometimes do. Needless to say, it’s a belief she shares in common with many Americans.
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The New Politics of “I blame me.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

I have an expression. It’s my expression. I made it up. I’m going to tell you the expression. You can think about it, but if you use it, you owe me a royalty.

“Screw you, buddy!” ..Hey! I heard that! I was just kidding about the royalty – unless you were actually considering paying me one, in which case I was serious. No? I didn’t think so. Anyway, I was kidding about the royalty, but thank you for helping me make my point. My point is that everybody nowadays, people, governments, everybody is way too uptight, too sensitive.

I’ll give you only one example, but there are zillions, many of which, unfortunately, have major and too often negative implications for the quality of our lives, here in America and around the world. This particular example is a fluff piece, but then I don’t want to be accused of being too serious while I’m in process of complaining about just that.
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Congressional Dorms

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remember college? How the dorms had a way of making all freshmen equal regardless of what their parents did for a living or how much money they made? The way they forced the intermingling of nerds with the cool guys, the English majors with the engineering and science tools – and eventually, in more recent years, the girls with the boys, the blacks with the whites, the straight with the gay? It was nice, because dorm life helped open our minds, encouraging us to relate to others who were different than we were, to appreciate these differences and not get bent out of shape by them.

Maybe we should take the same approach to growing a better, more civil, more effective Congress.
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Things We Can Do For Free To Put People Back To Work

Wednesday, August 8, 2011

Hi. While spending money to put everyone back to work may be necessary – although our President and Congress haven’t a clue how to do that – there are some things that we can do immediately that won’t cost anyone a dime.
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Subprime Country

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Well, it’s official. Despite and perhaps because of the remarkable debt limit legislation our President and Congress have just completed, Standard & Poors has lowered our credit rating, our national FICO score, from AAA to AA+. We, the United States of America, are now a subprime country.

Apparently, S&P wasn’t so much worried that we wouldn’t increase the debt ceiling as that we’d do it without taking any significant, short-term steps to reverse our long-term tendency to borrow ourselves into financial oblivion. When a lender – and that is their perspective – is evaluating a borrower, whether personal, corporate or government, one of the most important components of that evaluation is recent behavior history. Poop happens, to be sure, but has the prospective borrower shown maturity, commitment and intelligence in how it has dealt with adversity and managed its resources? Does management – whether we’re talking about a household, corporate executives or the President and Congress – seem competent? To what degree can that entity be counted upon to protect and return, with interest, money that is loaned to it?

How depressing. Don’t blame S&P. Blame the President and Congress who have certainly done everything possible to discourage confidence in their leadership. These people, the President included, are clueless and wouldn’t recognize real solutions to our national financial and other problems if they tripped over them. And they have, tripped over them, that is.

The really good news is that we (our government) can now enjoy all the advantages subprime people do. We can now pay higher interest rates to borrow money on which we can’t afford to make the payments anyway, so who cares? Our military and other branches of government can now buy weapons, bullets and other stuff at places that advertise, “No credit, no problem!” Instead of driving shinny new limos, our President and Congressional leaders can drive themselves around in older, higher mileage used cars. This is great.

I see only one real problem. Do you remember how our government squandered hundreds of billions of dollars saving commercial and investment banks whose executives were making money hand over fist by recklessly lending to subprime customers, and how we gave them all that money on the condition that they promise to never, ever do that again? And to their credit, no pun intended, they’ve tightened up their underwriting and haven’t been lending any real money to anyone since then. They’re not going to help. Europe’s up the creek. Japan’s got it’s own problems to worry about. And borrowing more from China has too many strings attached.

So who’s going to bail us out now that we’re broke?

-wf

Who’s holding who hostage?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

FYI, “The Wordfeeder” is neither a Democrat or Republican, Tea Party or otherwise, but an honest-to-goodness registered Independent. As such, I just call ‘em as I see them, regardless of who I agree with or offend.

That having been said, consider the following TV drama scenario. Large men wearing ski masks, what else, … Just ski masks. They’re naked from the waste down. ..break into your office demanding that the President of your firm, who doesn’t know you from Adam, turn over the key to the men’s room which is kept locked at all times, precisely to avoid having thugs like them from going to the bathroom without permission. Okay, I think we can all agree that the large men are “holding you hostage.” Or can we?

Suppose, from the point of view of the large, masked men, you (your firm) posed a much greater threat when your management leased lobby space to a Starbucks and then withheld access to your lavatories. Maybe the large, masked men are basically nice guys who just feel they have no choice. Having made repeated polite, entirely civil requests for the lavatory key, they are at their wits end and feel, quite possibly correctly so, that they’ve run out of options.

Management, who considers you dispensable, particularly when issues as significant as public restroom access are on the line, tells the masked men that they should put their guns down, leave the building and they’ll talk about it later, maybe.

Who’s responsible for this crisis? The hostage takers, or the people who have acted, depending upon your point of view, with reckless disregard to the welfare of the general public?

As you probably know, our Congress went on vacation immediately after passing their debt limit extension legislation, leaving over 70,000 Americans without income pending resolution of a dispute over renewed FAA funding. Not only are these Americans temporarily out of work, there is over $1 billion of taxes which our government desperately needs that will go uncollected until the House and Senate get back from vacation. This is an example of audacity, of self-serving politics, of reckless incompetence of biblical proportions.

The Democrats in the Senate are claiming that the Republicans in the house are “holding them hostage” by approving additional FAA funding contingent upon putting an end to government subsidies of minor airline routes which we can’t afford to continue. (My wife believes that no one should be allowed to fly distances of less than 500 miles, and I agree with her, at least in principle.) Well, I think the Democrats are confused. I think it’s the Democrats, President Obama included, who want the Republicans to drop their demand and pass yet another “clean” funding bill, and they’ll talk about cutting expenses later. To which I say, at the risk of sounding like a Republican (ick), “Oh, yeah. When?”

Time’s up.

-wf