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Ignore the Politics Or Train Politicians Like Your Dog

by John on 05/08/2012

Politics has gone to the dogs.  To steal and horribly bastardize from Shakespeare and Faulkner:

Politics is a tale barked by an animal full of sound and fury, signifying nothing except give me my bone.

Most politicians are dogs.  And I mean that in the kindest way.  (No reference to Vitter or Weiner should be construed.  And I am not talking about Seamus or Bo.)  Politicians are not real bright: they concentrate on one thing which is getting themselves elected.  And they need to be trained.  For example, when your puppy acts up, you discipline it, so it knows who is master.

How do we do that?  When we read stories about politics or watch political stories on TV we should do:

  • Say nothing.
  • Don’t react.
  • Take it in.
  • Think about it.
  • Ignore it.
  • Then go play with the dog that deserves your attention.

Three stories prove my point.

The first is from David Brooks in the New York Times.  He describes the structural problems within our economy and our politics.  My take on Brooks: We have a welfare state for too many people and entities including special interests like corporations and tax-payers.   We have also failed to see the new economy and, as a result, we are late to the future.  And Brooks properly points out that both parties are to blame.

President Obama is too minimalist. He doesn’t seem to believe America’s structural problems are that big, making his reform ideas small. Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan understand the size of the structural problems, but their reform plans are constrained by the Republican Party’s single-minded devotion to tax cuts.

The second story is about Paul Ryan, the budget leader for the House GOP, who told a town hall meeting that he favors the Volcker Rule.

“If you’re a bank and you want to operate like some non-bank entity like a hedge fund, then don’t be a bank,” Ryan told constituents on Friday. “Don’t let banks use their customers money to do anything other than traditional banking”.

This could be a big step in getting Dodd-Frank passed amicably.  My take: there needs to be regulation of the financial industry.  But we can’t throw out the innovation either.  There are fabulous financial instruments created by smart people to help ease rough patches in the world economy.  And we will need these financial instruments as we deal with a graying and retiring majority in a number of major countries. But there are a minority of smart financial people – who are either devious or greedy – that need to be reined-in.

Here’s the media bias angle.  Why weren’t Ryan’s comments reported on the major networks or even local TV?  Is it media bias?  It could be.  But I would say it is more the lack of journalists available to cover the stories or the lack of seasoned journalists to understand the context of a complex economic issue.

Lastly, Tom Brokaw, on Meet the Press Sunday, said there is a growing consensus on all sides of the political spectrum to go back to Simpson-Bowles

So, all this political yelping about contraception, the war on women, and the bin-Laden ball spike is merely dogs howling and keeping us up all night because — they weren’t trained.

Think about the time we have wasted.  Workers could have been long into training for new jobs.  Entrepreneurs could have launched start-ups.  Home-owners might have gotten a break on the equity in their homes, relaxed, and started spending.  Tragically, think about the lives that have been damaged or destroyed worldwide due to the economic fall out.  Blame the special interest money that has kept extremes on both parties alive. 

The Informed Not Inflamed reality is this.  We cannot survive with massive deficits.  But we cannot grow without proper investments in the future economy.  All taxpayers will pay more.  All recipients of entitlements will get less.  Seniors will retire later on less from Medicare and Social Security.  Corporations stuck in 20th Century technology and methods – namely the energy, education, health care, and communications industries – will need to either transform to the 21st Century or stop sucking from the welfare state.

I am hoping this will begin to happen in 2013 after the elections.  My suspicion is: it will; no matter who gets elected.

Despite the barking, pooping on our nation’s rug, and taking bites out of the American furniture, the political dogs want to be liked and mastered.

However, it’s time for us to act like masters now.

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