Saturday, October 31, 2009

What Actually Happens ‘When Good Men Do Nothing’?

We love politics and we love Washington, believe it or not.

It is the one place on earth where the free exchange of grandiose dreams, ideas, philosophies and proposals come crashing together on a daily basis, ostensibly to help the Republic known as America stay great and free for centuries to come.

Some people compare it to ‘watching sausage being made’, full of, well….all of the parts of the hog that didn’t make it into good hams or bacon, we suppose.

We prefer to think of it like waves crashing into each other at a point on the coast…some from the west, some from the east, and some from the north and south.  Somehow, the oceans rage for periods of time and find calm in between.

But what happens if the winds blow the waves too long from the west, or the east for that matter?  It won’t be too long before the sand dunes are reshaped and the currents changed forever.

Just like in politics. When there are no viable countervailing forces, as in much of the 21st century so far, one side or the other ‘wins’ and reshapes our national landscape and economy.  And no amount of ‘beach re-nourishment’ can restore the shoreline easily to what it was before.

Here’s our question directly to you today, and to the thousands of friends you might want to send this to:  “What happens to our national politics if ‘I’ Do Nothing About It?”

Not your daddy, or momma, or hoping some some single person running for president will be our savior. You, period…along with an army of other like-minded citizens.

Here’s another reason why we ‘love’ Washington politics:  No one ever does the research to get the quotes exactly right.  In this regard, it is so predictable.  99 times out of 100, if you hear something that sounds really great in a speech, it has been lifted, without attribution, by the person saying it.  Barry Goldwater was not “Goldwater’ without numerous references to the ancient Roman ‘Great Speechifier’ himself who would put even President Obama and Reagan to shame, Marcus Tullius Cicero (which meant ‘chick pea’ in Latin…what a name for a leading public citizen)

JFK would have been another backbencher without speechwriter Ted Sorenson lifting quotes from George Bernard Shaw all the time….and RFK and Teddy Kennedy used the Irish writer’s words abundantly as well.

So people in Washington often times puff up and say:  “Edmund Burke once said: “When good men do nothing, evil will prevail!”

Except the great British philosopher of the Enlightenment ages never said that, ever.

What he did say, in fact, was this:  “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

Doesn’t roll off the modern American tongue quite as well but you get the point.

But it is so much more descriptive, don’t you think?

Garrett Morris, who used to do a brilliant SNL routine with Chevy Chase in the early days called “News for the Hard of Hearing” would cup his hands and shout out the very words Chevy Chase had just uttered on “Weekend Update”.   We think many Americans are apparently ‘hard of hearing’ nowadays because they just don’t seem to believe what they are hearing or seeing coming out of Washington anymore.

Except in this case, Morris would modify Mr. Burke’s words and shout at the top of his lungs: “Hey, you! Get up off of your rear end and run for some political office! If you don’t, and you really don’t like what they are doing, you are going to be picked off, man, one-by-one, like Sergeant York shooting wild turkeys from the back of the line to the front!”

We believe it is time for every “Good Man” and “Good Woman” to consider seriously running for any political office of their choosing in the next 5 election cycles.  There are elections in every year around the nation: municipal elections every two years, including this year; congressional, legislative and most gubernatorial elections in 2010 and the big presidential cycle again in 2012.

You can be one of the ‘good ones’ who associate and help end this ‘contemptible struggle’.  Believe us when we say, with total confidence, that you are better than 95% of all elected officials who are now serving in office around the country.  Why?  Take a look mean we can't do better than this with newly elected 'citizen-politicians' like you and me?

Say these words to yourself out loud as you read them:  “Who else is going to do it, if it is not “Me”?

That is why we have a civil government in the first citizens will rule and not some tyrant, king or dictator.  Think about might be in the right place 'for such a time as this'.

It is up to us as individuals to change things.  Great new leaders don't come out of some factory somewhere.  They come from people like you.

pictures courtesy of Wikipedia...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

“How Do You Know When A Politician is Lying?”

“When his lips are moving!” goes the old joke.

How do you know when a legislative bill is a "good one"?

When almost all of the special interests are squealing about it and how it is going to devastate their constituencies.

You don’t hear any of that surrounding this health care ‘reform’ (sic) bill, now do you?

You don’t hear any of the trial lawyers yelling about the tort reform in it.  Why?  Because there is none to speak about.

You don’t hear the labor unions screaming bloody murder because the tax treatment of their overly generous health care plans are being reduced to cover only a basic standard BCBS plan, instead of the Cadillac version they now enjoy.  You are ‘subsidizing’ those plans whether you know it or not through the excessive tax deductions being taken by the major automobile companies (which you just bailed out this spring) to satisfy the unions while you are paying for the standard plans.

You don’t see the AARP waving the bloody shirt because, well..because there really is very little that is going to change anything a senior on Medicare is now getting.  Most seniors will continue to be able to pay about $100/month for Medicare Part B premiums and get approximately a $12,000+ per year subsidy from the taxpayers and future generations while you will either pay an increasing share of the health care premiums through your business for reduced coverage, most likely, or close to $1000/month or more if you are self-employed.

How's that working out for you?

We are not going to defend the health insurance companies to within an inch of our lives although they do play an important role in this whole health care game.  But they are not really squealing either.  We just heard of a so-called 'non-profit' health insurance company that shall remain nameless which notified a small business they were ‘terminating’ their plan without notice or reasons explained.  The small business has a surviving cancer patient as an executive, an administrative assistant with MS and a few others with health problems associated with high blood pressure and obesity.  They have never missed paying a health insurance premium on time for the past 33 years and have always complied with any request made of them by the company.

That just ain’t right.  Any reform that will rectify that situation is ok by us.  We need insurance to cover adverse health outcomes and costs, not to cover our hangnail removal or routine checkups.

But we are more than a little bit ‘troubled’ by the lack of screaming and shouting and carrying-on that usually attends the passage of any major legislation in Washington.  In times past, when certain major interest groups were getting their ox gored (don’t ask us why this is a popular political analogy…it just is), there was all sorts of gnashing of teeth, rending of garments and lamentations being offered on the front steps of the Capitol and the back ones too.

What that tells us is that this bill is more of the ‘same-old, same-old’ and all of the major structural issues such as higher retirement ages for Medicare eligibility and other necessary reforms for the good of the Republic as a whole have once again been kicked down the road like an old soda can.  “Our kids will figure it out” current ‘leaders’ (sic?) such as Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid seem to be saying.

The French have a saying to describe such insouciance to the damage we are doing to the public fisc and common welfare:  “Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!”  ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same!”

This is not the change we can believe in, ladies and gentleman, and it saddens us to say that.  Next up:  higher inflation rates and interest rates to follow.  You can almost see it now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What is in a Name for a Political Party, Anyways?

Our recent ruminations about the rise of the officially registered independent voters exceeding 30% in many states across the nation apparently struck a chord among many people.

Out of many emails and phone calls we received, one gentleman wrote to ask how to change his registration and when we asked why, he said: “I didn’t know you could ever change your registration!”

Talk about blind party loyalty! From birth, no doubt.

But his question brought to mind this question: “Just what do these political party names mean anyway anymore?” After all, if you are going to call yourself a ‘Republican’ or a ‘Democrat’, it might be a good idea to know what they really mean in the first place.

Because quite frankly, political party names in the American history have changed and shifted over time such that what constituted a Democrat or a Republican in the late 1880’s is scarcely recognizable any longer today.

There have been basically 6 main political party names over our history, pretty much divided over the role of government.  One side has advocated more centralized government power and control, and taxes and higher spending, in Washington and in the state capitals.  The other has advocated less government control, lower taxes and more individual independence and freedom.

They have blended lines at times like cream in a coffee cup to where they can be barely indistinguishable at times.  Like today for example....many people feel like we have two ‘centralized power’ parties in Washington, both of which advocate more spending and more debt, the only difference being that one tries to say they want ‘less’ of it than the other.

Like ‘Bud-Lite’.

Let’s go to the very beginning.  We supposedly have a ‘democratic republic’ based on models the Founding Fathers read about in the original Greek and Latin histories of the Greek democracies and the Roman Republics.  The Greek word for democracy meant “of the people’.  The Latin word, ‘Res Publica’ literally meant ‘the people thing’.

We technically and literally have a form of government than means “The People Thing Of The People’.

So far, so good.  At least we started out on solid ground in 1789.

Since that time, here are the major political factions that have coalesced around some common shared goals:  ‘Federalists’, ‘Anti-Federalists’; ‘Democratic-Republicans’ under Jefferson (that would really confuse people today…or would it?); ‘Whigs’, ‘Democrats’ under Andrew Jackson and Republicans formed under Abraham Lincoln through the historical Jeffersonian roots.

Madison warned us against ‘factionalism’ which would take us down the road to the British parliamentary system, which they obviously abhorred.  They deliberately built-in safeguards to prevent such factionalism from getting out of hand, such as the Electoral College.

Those guys knew what they were doing.

We have had isolationist republicans, silver democrats, southern “Dixiecrats’, 'Blue Dog' Democrats, Teddy Rooseveltian ‘Bull-Moose’ Republicans, Rockefeller Republicans and all sorts of various adjectives attached to both major parties over time.  A ‘classical liberal’ in economics during the Enlightenment days would have been a ‘free-market capitalist' of the 1980’s.

So things have gotten confusing from time to time in our history.

What about now, today, in American politics? What do we really have anyways?

That is really up to this generation to decide for themselves, as Thomas Jefferson hoped we would do.

Frankly, we wouldn’t mind going back to the early days of the Greek democracies where the political parties were designated as such:  ‘Men of the Coast’. ‘Men of the Plains’. ‘Men of the Mountains’. And forget all the current connotations of the words "Republican' and 'Democrat'.  Maybe this would restart our national political dialogue along towards a more productive outcome.

Change the word ‘men’ to ‘People’ to be politically correct and inclusive. That seems to describe the current divisions of interests in many states around the nation.

As long as at least one political party in American stands for fiscal sanity, ferreting out wasteful government spending at every level, instituting the lowest possible and fair tax burden to produce balanced budgets forever after we pay off this enormous debt and protect us from terrorist attack ever again, we really don’t care what that party will be called.

Maybe call it the “Martian Party’ after Marvin the Martian whose tag line was “You earth creatures make me sooooo angry!” 

Or how about the ‘Telemachian Party’?  Nah, sounds too much like ‘telemarketing’ to be a success.

Marvin Martian courtesy of

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"I'd Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today"

If J. Wellington Wimpy's famous quote is not the quintessential slogan that describes the current American attitude towards massive over-consumption of government services without paying for it, then we don't know what is.

We are putting Popeye the Sailor Man's best friend to shame by the way we spend and borrow as a nation.  Take a look at the news today:  The so-called 'public option' is now back in the health care bill mix and that one provision alone is almost guaranteed to drive up the costs of this bill by a factor of 3 when all is said and done over the next decade. Mostly all borrowed, by the way.

'Tax-and-spend liberals' used to be an epithet hurled by the opposite side.  But what do we call both political parties when they spend like there is no tomorrow and borrow like there is? "Spend-and-borrow lunatics"?

There is some real redistribution of wealth going on right now and it isn't from the wealthy to the poor, as some would have you believe. They want you to believe that all we have to do is slap a big tax on the wealthy, big insurance, big tobacco or big oil and everything will be fine and dandy.

Except the truly rich can afford to hire expensive tax lawyers and accountants to help them minimize their taxes to almost any level they so choose.  And the increased taxes on all the companies mentioned above are paid for by you and me in the higher prices they charge for their products and services as a result of the higher taxes we are 'punishing' them to pay.

So don't buy that Robin Hood stuff about taking from the rich and giving to the poor. In fact, it is far worse than that, and more sinister and deceitful when you really sit down and think about who is going to pay for all of this borrowing we are now allowing Congress to get away with.

Where does this redistribution come from? Your children and grandchildren’s pocketbooks and wallets, just like always.  Where else can a government systematically raid a defenseless and unrepresented group of people year after year to get the funds they want to provide current benefits to living voters?  The young and unborn children can not vote and the ones who are aged 18-35 barely vote at all on a regular basis.  Young voters came out in droves to be a part of history last year during the Obama campaign but are you willing to bet the mortgage that they will vote again in the off-off year elections this fall in Virginia and New Jersey or any of the municipal elections across the country?  (You didn’t even know that these elections were full-bore, did you?)

There are a lot of people who think the main purpose of government is to ‘redistribute the wealth’ from the rich to the poor in some sort of noble effort to pursue peace and justice. So they continue to advocate loudly for 'higher taxes on the wealthy' to 'pay their fair share'...even though the top 1% of American taxpayers now pay more in income taxes than the 'bottom' (?) 95% of all taxpayers combined.

The only 'redistribution of wealth' that we have actually been able to accomplish over the past 30 years is from our children and grandchildren to us and our parents and grandparents now living. We have borrowed now close to $6 trillion from them in the form of bonds. Like Wimpy, we all have eaten our hamburgers today and 'promised' investors we'll pay you next in 2032.

Will 'we' be the ones paying them back? Heck no, most of us will be long dead and gone.

A lot of the bonds we 'owe' are somewhat fictional as we have pointed out in previous postings.  They are associated with the Social Security 'trust fund' that is really no more than an accounting entry and can only be paid off by higher taxes or savings from future spending programs. 

But over half of the bonds now outstanding are 'real' meaning institutional investors and the Chinese government who will demand they get paid regular interest payments and principal, period.  Who will pay off the obligations we are making to them?  Our kids and grandkids.

Is that what we really want to do as a nation?  Are you 'proud' of being part of a nation that does that to our children?

Here's what might happen in the interim:  We may very well experience higher inflation rates and lower currency valuations of the dollar, both of which make paying back these bonds less expensive in real terms.  Neither are great for any economy in the long-run.  Plus our kids will have to pay the interest on these bonds regardless of who owns them....and our current interest payments are close to $500 billion in the budget today.

So forget about trying to drain the pockets of the current living breathing billionaires…there ain’t enough of them to shake down completely anyway to solve our fiscal problems in the first place.

Focus on what we are doing surreptitiously to our children and grandchildren.  And then tell your elected politicians to stop it, first by not voting for any more expansion of spending at any level of government.  And then, by paying down the debt with savings from programs already on the books and not run very well.

You’ll feel better about things.  Like next Tuesday.

courtesy of

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What is 'Really' at Stake in The Health Care Reform Bill?

Now that the health care debate has moved out of the Senate Finance Committee and spilled onto the floor of the U.S. Senate, it is important to remember the main reason why getting the ‘correct’ form of health care reform is so critical at this point in time.

Popping the inflationary balloon in health care costs would save us trillions of dollars that will otherwise have to be borrowed over the next 20-30 years from your kids and grandkids. Did you know that just from 2000-2007, medical care (and college tuition costs...but that is for another posting) have exploded while things like computers, software and even new automobiles have dropped? (see chart above, 1)

Reducing the medical inflation rates to some 'normal' level would be the modern-day equivalent of Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian Knot with one fell swoop of his sharp sword.  The former congressman I served as chief of staff, John ‘Alexander’ McMillan, III, used to refer often to this legendary tale when dealing with seemingly intractable issues in Congress.

There were always ‘solutions’ to problems and sometimes, making the bold stroke is the surest and fastest way to solve the problem.  Now is the time to make such a bold stroke.

(It didn’t hurt that ‘Alexander’ meant ‘leader of men’ so where are all the ‘Alexanders’ out there anyways?)

The upward spiral in health care costs has not abated for the past 30 years, no matter what Congress has done or we do as consumers of health care. The reasons are ‘legion’, to borrow a particularly damning Biblical reference, but they range from third-party payors of health care premiums, lack of substantive tort reform, expensive but effective advances in medical technology, terrible health habits of millions of Americans and the list can go on and on.

Whatever the reason, this current iteration of health care ‘reform’ has got to be compared to a Gordian Knot-type of complete reform or else it will just be another wasted opportunity to do the public’s business for the good of the entire country, first and foremost.

Take a look at the next chart. Medicare costs are expected to go through the roof over the next 30 years. A large part of it has to do with the sheer increase in the number of old geezers (us in the Baby Boom generation) who are going to be loading up on the Medicare bandwagon.  The ‘excess cost growth’, as it is known, is the growth in health costs over and above the expected increases due to 'normal' inflation and more Boomer enrollees.  It compounds with each passing year and we all know that compound interest is ‘the most powerful force in the universe’ according to none other than Albert Einstein himself.

Looking at it another way, if we could just hold the annual rate of inflation in overall health costs to JUST the rate of normal overall inflation in the economy, $200 billion in Medicare costs alone could be saved in FY 2019. That would mean we would have to seriously change our eating and exercise habits as an entire nation; drive down costs through the use of computer technology and medical advances and dramatically raise the retirement ages for Medicare eligibility, all critical 'structural reforms' that have to be undertaken to account for the huge number of new Boomer Medicare recipients with longer lifespans.

That is it.  Plain and Simple. But enormously complex in implementation. The Gordian Knot will have been cut, the budget will have been balanced,the dollar will rebound and we will all live in the land of milk and honey once again

And our children and grandkids will LOVE us for it….we will not be judged as the ‘craziest’ or ‘stupidest’ generation of Americans to have ever walked the face of earth after all.  We will have 'won one for the Gipper' (Reagan); 'done what we should have done for our country' (Kennedy) and made 'one giant leap for American-kind' (Neil Armstrong?)

BUT, and this is a tremendously large ‘but’, it all depends upon this current health care reform bill being done right and breaking the back of the structural factors in the whole health care industry that has led to very high rates of inflation in health care over the past 3 decades.

There is some serious doubt that any of the current bills under consideration by Congress can accomplish this goal. In fact, many experts believe this bill will do nothing to break the structural factors dealing with the inexorable rise in medical costs because, well, frankly, because no one in the White House or Congress is brave enough to deal with them right now.

"If not us, who?  And if not now, when?" President Reagan rhetorically asked in his Second Inaugural Address.

If they don’t deal with these structural problems now in the next 3 months, we’ll have to start all over again to get it right. In January of 2010.  We don’t have any other options.

1. Chart courtesy of Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal
2. Chart courtesy of CBO

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"What Are We Fightin' 'FOR'?"

Anyone who came of age during the hippie, war protest days of the late ‘60’s will recognize this lyric from the song that some people say ‘ended' the Vietnam War:  “'I Feel Like I Am Fixin’ To Die' Rag” by none other than Country Joe and The Fish*

Yes, younger America, there actually was a band back then with a crazier name than any of the rappers you might be following to your parents’ eternal dismay.

Many Americans are downright disgusted with the current state of politics and have been for perhaps the past decade or more.  We know what we DON'T want and that is the current practice of lots of empty talk, rhetoric and posturing and no substantive action on well, anything. Our last column on the rise of the Independent/Unaffiliated registered voter to over 30% of the population in many states brought forth a lot of comment and passion from tons of people confirming this broad-based sentiment.

The late Lee Atwater, the controversial but effective campaign advisor to many successful Republican candidates, told us in 1986: “The predominant political party in America in the 21st century will be socially libertarian and fiscally conservative.”  Looking at the inexorable rise of the number of independent voters coupled with the rising current disgust with both the Democrat and Republican party, it appears as if Mr. Atwater might be proven right.

Neither party has moved to fill the void that the independents seem to be trying to fill themselves today.  Both established parties have painted themselves into opposite corners where they can't possibly reach across party lines, pledges and philosophies to negotiate and accept reasonable compromises in the best interests of the nation.

Our current political state might not be as bad as when the colonists felt that King George III was unfairly taxing them to death without representation.  We seem to be taxing ourselves today 'with' representation, quite well, come to think about it. And we know our nation is not in as conflicted of a state as when our Founding Fathers agreed to allow slavery as a constitutionally-protected institution for 76 years after the government was formed.

But the current state of our national government and politics does seem pretty bad, to be honest about it, wouldn't you agree? We have got to have radical changes in policies to correct current imbalances.

Perhaps the independents are just waiting for the right person to lead their new ‘party’ to credibility.  Or perhaps they are just waiting for a set of core principles to be laid out before they can actually be a formative force in American elective politics, much like when a disparate group of disenchanted Whigs broke away over the issue of slavery among other issues and formed the Republican Party under leaders such as Abraham Lincoln between 1850 and 1854.

Thomas Jefferson said each generation has to determine for themselves what our government is going to look like for them during their lifetime.  Our parents and grandparents have had their swing at the bat.  Now it is up to Americans now aged 65 to around 40 to make the changes needed to solve these huge problems staring right down the barrel at us.

We'd like the younger generations to join us in this effort but history shows that you never register in sufficient numbers or vote often enough to really tip the balance of power your way. (So prove history 'wrong' for a change)

If you are among the ‘disenchanted progressive’ or the ‘angry conservative independent’ voters, ‘What is it you are fightin’ for?’ anyway versus ‘What are you mad about and against?”

Let’s see if we can help put some meat on these bones for you and possibly identify some of what you would want from a ‘new’ political party to lead us out of this mess:

  1. We want our elected government leaders to quit bitching about everything and showing up on cable news shows all the time.  Get to work on solving our problems and stay out of the news, why doncha?
  2. We want our government to protect us from invasion and attack by the terrorists ever again by using the most modern technology and equipment available.  And get rid of any wasteful defense programs that we know are hidden in the Pentagon budget somewhere.
  3. We want our government to balance the budget every year from now on.  Period. No more debt.  Debt is for political cowards.
  4. We want every scintilla of wasteful spending eliminated in the federal budget before we consider spending any more money on new programs.  Consider this a mandatory ‘freeze’ on new spending authority, just like we all have had to do during this crippling recession.
  5. We want the national debt to be paid down and eliminated before we die and leave this earth.  Leaving such a debt is unfair to our children and cowardly of all of us now consuming those resources.  We have been the most self-absorbed, coddled, materialistic generation in American history...we don't want to be remembered as the 'craziest' and 'stupidest' generation as well.
  6. If we do need new spending such as for a justifiable war or health care for everyone, and all previously mentioned wasteful spending has been verifiably eliminated (by GAO or some other agency), then we will pay for it in higher taxes as long as the burden is spread over the whole society.  After all, we are all in this thing together as a team of Americans, not broken out by race, creed, religion or socio-economic circumstances.
  7. We want all entitlement programs to be scaled back so that only the truly needy or poverty-stricken individuals get the full benefits now currently available to everyone based solely on age-eligibility. Scale them according to income.  We know this might stick it to our own pocketbook but we are willing to do this for our children and grandchildren as perhaps the only sacrifice our generation has ever actually done collectively ‘for our country’, as President Kennedy asked us to do in 1961.
  8. We want peace on earth, and goodwill towards all others, just as all now-Aging Aquarians were taught to believe in our formative years, like when we listened to songs from Country Joe and The Fish, before too many brain cells were eliminated and destroyed. (is that why we can't balance the budget nowadays?)

Now if we can just figure out a way to deal with the tortuous issues of abortion, gay rights, gun control, global warming and the expression of religious faith anywhere near a public building, we will all win the Nobel Peace Prize before we are fixin’ to die.

Think about it….this might be the last chance we have to do something great for our country.  Most of us have avoided military service; we have not suffered through anything like WWII or the Depression; communist Russia and Eastern Europe fell without too much sacrifice on our part and we have generally enjoyed the fruits of living in a free enterprise democratic republic.

And if we don’t do make these changes today, our children might not be able to cure what we leave behind in our wake.

*lyrics to “’I Feel Like I Am Fixin’ to Die’ Rag”

”And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Declaration of 'Independents'

What happens if and when the number of voters in the country registering as 'Independent' or 'Unaffiliated' reaches 50%+1?

There will be some very serious hand-wringing and heavy brow-sweating going on in every legislative office and campaign office in the land.

Why?  Because that would mean the American public has turned off the switch that says Republicans and Democrats can be trusted to do what they say they are going to do in the best interests of the nation.

The major political parties can equally share much of the blame for the demise of that public trust. And, truth be told, we, the American people share in the blame as well by thinking we can spend all we want on every defense, health, education, environmental and entitlement program without having to pay for them through higher taxes.

When we, as the voting population of Americans, significantly change our ways and mindset on this score and demand a different set of outcomes from Congress, then you will see more responsible fiscal behavior and voting.  Congress always mirrors the attitudes and desires of the people, not the other way around.

Over the past 30 years, the two major political parties have responded to the vocal advocates on both extremes and left the majority of Americans between the 20-yard lines feeling as though they have not been represented.  And they haven't.

Look no further than the $1.6 trillion budget deficit for FY 2009 and the current $12 trillion national debt, (soon-to-be $20 trillion national debt), as Exhibits #1 and  #2 as prime evidence that “it just ain’t working anymore in Washington”. It is hard to believe it is even possible that 535 elected representatives and senators in our nation's capital each two-year term can not come to an agreement or 'grand compromise' that will balance the income from our taxes with the spending on the programs we say we want to consume as a nation.  It is even harder to believe we collectively have allowed the debt to be kicked down the road to our children and their children.

Did you know that in many states right now, the number of people not registered as Republican or Democrat is now 30% or higher?  In some states, that represents the highest percentage of people registered to vote, as hard as that might be to believe.

One friend told us that he went to a dinner recently with close to 30 people in attendance.  When asked if any of them were happy with being a Republican or a Democrat, he was shocked to learn that none of them in that room of 30 people were registered with either major political party.  They were either Independent, Unaffiliated, Libertarian or Whig.

In a perfect world, here are the choices we would have as American voting citizens since it reflects most of the history of our democratic republic from its inception.  There would be one party that advocates more government control and programs to meet the needs of the nation.  They would have the guts to show how these new programs were going to be paid for by higher taxes. There would be another party that would advocate less government control and programs.  They would have the guts to show where they would cut existing federal programs first and lower taxes when the cuts were implemented and the debt was eliminated. Both would agree that balancing the budget each and every year is an important moral imperative, if not economic, for the long-run.

But that is not happening, is it? Both parties are governed by very clever PR firms and consultants, ‘word-smithers’ and ever-so-slight ‘story-tellers’ who try to fool you, the American voter, into supporting their candidates in the next election and ‘everything will be all right’.

Well, it is not ‘all right’ and the time to change is now...before it gets any worse.

Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln would be ashamed to see the legacies they started in the shape they are in today, not just in tone and temperament but in the final score where nothing of substance ever seems to get done anymore. Their collective genius that led to the creation of the Democratic Republican party under Jefferson and the Republican party splitting off from the Whig party under Lincoln has now devolved into a televised mudfight where names and slander are lobbed from side to side and then more debt is added on to our children’s tab to pay ‘later’.

We don't really know what will happen if the majority of American voters decide to register as an Independent/Unaffiliated voter.

It has to be better than what we are witnessing today.

Archibald M. Willard painting