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Posted by on Oct 9, 2008 in Economy, Politics | 6 comments

A Civics Experiment

Regular readers here know that I’m frustrated by the profligate waste and fiscal irresponsibility our Washington leadership has demonstrated. After many posts and comments (and a great deal of anguish), I decided to bring my concerns directly to the people running for office in my area.

Call it a civics experiment.

To that end, I spent the vast majority of last weekend putting together a letter, and this past Monday morning I sent it to all the congressional candidates (20 or so people) in my immediate 2-county area.

You can view the letter here.

I plan to begin posting responses — or the lack thereof — at my blog on Monday. I haven’t a clue whether it will make the slightest difference to anyone but me, but I’m tired of sitting on my hands.

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • Silhouette

    Here’s the deal with the Bill. Both dems and the GOP, in order to stem a mass desertion to a third party, tooled the Bill to look impressive and encompassing just to get through the election. They have, both sides, every intention of repealing it and retooling it to their own party’s ilk the minute the election is over.

    The Bill was carefully worded to appeal (and calm) as many people as possible into not panicking and rushing financial institutions, to buy more time to get through the election and bring about changes that actually will work.

    So any concerns you have about the Bill, unless I miss my intuition, are unfounded. It will be revoked before Christmas and completely rewritten.

    This actually is a really good and sane plan, because people panic and do stupid things. We need the new leadership to retool without the fetterment of panic.

  • Sil, my concerns go far beyond the bailout bill.

  • Polimom, I agree and join you in your concerns. I’ve been railing for years against passing our debt on to future generations. Much of this is IMO the result of the prevailing mantra that private businesses can do government functions better. It’s a lie. There are many examples of how “streamlining government” has been a smokescreen for more waste and a desire to dismantle government instead of rationally assessing the best and least expensive way of accomplishing something.

    Example: Donald Rumsfeld said “anything that can be done by private industry should be.” This is a way of shifting our tax dollars into private profit. How’s that working? Here’s one example.

    We contracted much of the rebuilding of Iraq to private companies. (Halliburton & KBR, Bechtel, etc.) while providing $900/day mercenaries (Blackwater mostly) to protect the private contractors. These companies have made billions. The travesty of this approach: We paid $175/hour for work on simple infrastructure projects. After several levels of subcontracting, each with built in profit, foreign (not Iraqi) workers were hired for $2/hour to do the work. The $173/hour is waste we can’t afford. We could have hired Iraqis directly for $2/DAY. This has to stop. If we had in fact hired Iraqis to rebuild their own country, more would have been employed (under our supervision), fewer would have taken up rifles of strapped on bombs, and the rebuilding would have been done sooner at less cost. BTW, we could also have done what we eventually did as a part of “the surge”. We assigned US soldiers to do infrastructure work.

    There are thousands of examples. After Katrina, we funded over 11,000 private contractors for “disaster relief” which was formerly done by FEMA.

  • pacatrue

    Well, polimom, the responses from the two candidates are quite interesting so far. I too want to prevent “the total socialism of America”. 🙂 (Sorry, grammar snark.)

    To bring up a more substantive issue, PAYGO of course largely controls fiscal year deficits, but it does not directly attack the sitting debt. Do you have any opinion on the overall debt strategy? Should we try to run zero deficits for many years until the existing debt becomes a smaller portion of the GDP (i.e, grow out of the debt), or would you like to see some current revenues diverted from other spending towards paying the debt down directly?

    My first take is that I’d like to attack the debt directly as well, but I have no coherent philosophy on what to cut in order to do so. I can make gut reactions about programs as someone presented them to me, but I’d much rather have strong opinions about the role of government and its practical results that allow me to make a much better decision.

  • Hi paca — sorry to have been slow responding. Didn’t realize you’d commented over here too.

    The complexities of our current situation overwhelm me, too. Since the deficits roll each year into the accumulating debt, they’re symbiotic, and there’s a great deal of ducking and weaving around terms like discretionary and mandatory spending.

    As I see it, the root of the problem is that much of our mandatory spending is unfunded. SS, for instance, has expanded radically in scope (think of disability, or survivor’s benefits) without funding modifications. This problem has been off the radar, for the most part. Discretionary spending (housing, education…), while accounting for a smaller percentage of the budget (deficit), is also seen as indispensible these days, and although there are cuts proposed all over the place, I think we’re headed for a fiscal showdown.

    So while PAYGO, as commonly used, doesn’t get at the debt directly, it would force a confrontation, I think, with some truly unpleasant realities. IMHO, such a confrontation is overdue .

  • Oh — and about the “save us all from the socialists” candidate? That is NOT what I consider to be a rational alternative to the current candidate, however pathetic she is.

    ::shudder::

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