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It's A Gray Area: When it comes to our failings, pick a card

August 06, 2011|By James P. Gray

Yes, our great country has some problems. But there is nothing going on today that could not be addressed and resolved by good proactive leadership. In this case, I define leadership as identifying and addressing a problem area from a human and economic approach, basing a resolution upon what would work best for our country, and its people as a whole, and standing up for that resolution. That is what Winston Churchill did on numerous occasions, but I do not see any leaders of that caliber in our country at all. Not even one!

A big problem is that our political system so strongly encourages short-term, special-interest thinking, such that elected officials are not concerned about the future, they are only concerned about the next election. In addition, in this political environment, if elected officials take a public position about 10 issues, and the average voters agree with them on seven and are undecided about another two, but disagree with them on the last one, the voters often will crucify the officeholder on that final issue at the next election.

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Of course, this strongly encourages our officeholders not to take positions at all, or to increase their political safety if they do by being more partisan. And this also has the effect of more propositions being placed on the state ballots on issues that really should be decided by the legislatures, because the political "leaders" are afraid to touch them.

Of course we, our children, our grandchildren and our country, are paying a big price for this state of affairs. For example, let's look at this recent budget "crisis." Our elected officials in Washington were playing "brinksmanship" with our economic stability and future as a country. But during this entire process did you see any elected official working with others of a different philosophy for the good of the country? I didn't.

So what was the result? This is my understanding of Washington's "resolution" of our country's budget problems — taking off eight zeros from the country's budget and putting the situation into the perspective of an average American family's budget. Last year this family earned $21,617. But it spent $34,560, which in turn added $12,943 to its credit card debt, and which brought its total outstanding credit card debt to $135,616. So in response to this crisis, the family reduced its budgeted spending for next year by $385.

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