- Official unemployment figures are over 9%. Unofficial figures are near 20% for those of us who are the long-term unemployed and the under-employed class.
- The U.S. borrows $0.46 for every $1 it spends.
- The U.S. “credit card” has maxed out at $14.3 trillion and the country’s leaders are toying with default that would only increase borrowing costs.
- The mortgage industry was nationalized in 2008 with nearly 50% of all mortgages guaranteed by U.S. taxpayers. Freddie/Fannie are unlikely to ever return to the private sector.
- The Treasury Department holds 500 million shares in General Motors, the result of the 2008 bailout.
- The U.S. continues to be engaged in Iraq. The Iraq government said a U.S. Congressional delegation was not welcome in the country. Their crime? Asking for reimbursement of rebuilding costs from oil profits.
- The 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion is here. So unpopular is this conflict that when outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with the troops a few weeks ago the question about leaving the country led all questions 3:1. Usually troops ask about pay, leave time and other issues – not since Vietnam have active duty troops questioned strategy.
- The U.S. military is active in the Libyan conflict but are absent from uprisings in other Middle Eastern countries that are part of the “Arab” Spring.
It’s nearly overwhelming. There's emotional culture war subjects like abortion and equal rights. Add into the mix a host of more local issues – states that can’t balance their books, local crime issues, safety-net issues with regards to education and health and it feels insurmountable. What can be done?
The American legislative process doesn’t lend itself to getting things done. The cumbersome structure of getting legislation to become law requires an introduction of the bill, committee work, debate and a vote. Both the Congress and the Senate have to do this and then reconcile any differences before it goes to the Executive Branch. The framers made it intentionally difficult in order to minimize the nation becoming too enmeshed in governing people’s lives.
Apathy is the lack of interest in something. How interesting is it for people who are working hard, raising children, participating in life to go to the effort of voting when nothing seems to change? Add in that voting itself is more difficult than it should be. There is no consistent process to register and deadlines are often arbitrary. You have to find some random community center to stand in line. In a country whose entire economy is run electronically there must be an accurate, safe and anonymous way for the entire eligible population to participate.
Imagine the difference adding the other 58.4% of the electorate to political discourse! The electorate could be more easily and effectively engaged. Issues would no longer be narrowed to the few percent who decide elections, but instead would be geared to the majority. Political Party would be less important. Whoa! Deep breath. Getting carried away. The morning fog must be particularly strong today.