It doesn’t take much to upset the masses in this country. Politics, religion, sexuality, and taxes will set people off in a heartbeat. But, you know, it’s one thing to discuss matters in full view of the relative facts, but quite a different thing to get all huffy over something without having the slightest indication of the facts.
And, one of the primary factors in arguing an issue based almost entirely on a mountain of emotional baggage is a desire to validate a preconceived notion for the sake of winning the point.
I have no problems with people that present viewpoints that are not only different from mine, but are also diametrically OPPOSED to mine. Even if the opposing viewpoint is based on a different interpretation of facts, there is no problem from my position as long as the facts themselves are accurate and verifiable.
I am a Conservative. I’ve been a Conservative from the day I became eligible to vote and that goes way back to when people had to be 21-years of age to do so. That’s right! At one point, the President of the United States could send a person off to fight and possibly die in a war even if that person didn’t vote because he wasn’t old enough.
I’ve served this country in every way that I been able to, including two combat tours in Vietnam. I’ve always been proud of this nation in terms of its socio-economic aid to the rest of the world. As a younger man, I was willing to die in its defense and I’d still do so in the blink of an eye to keep it free and a beacon of hope for the world.
But, we’ve never been a perfect country. Our leaders have done some despicable things all the while waving the flag. “My country, right or wrong” is fine sentiment as long as we try to right the wrongs. Otherwise, it’s just an empty slogan suitable for simple-minded nationalists and has nothing to do with patriotism.
I think we’re still a great nation. But, I also KNOW we can be better. And, it all begins with the voters, not the politicians. Politicians do nothing but react. They listen for discontent, even if it’s based on crap, and then set a campaign strategy aimed at solving the perceived problem. And, if no problems exist, they’ll invent some and campaign on vacuous promises to “fix” things.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” And, in this country, we seem to experience an abundance of both. Here’s an example.
Politics raised its ugly head yesterday during a meeting as someone began a tirade on TAXES. And THAT was it; about 70% of the attendees reached for the symbolic pitchforks and torches and began non-stop verbal barrages against ALL things NOT Conservative, including people. Embarrassing does not begin to describe it.
They attacked everything, blaming the “damned” LIBERALS for everything over the past 30-years: excess spending, outlandish taxes, an inferior educational system, teacher unions, excessively high college tuition, Liberal college professors, Liberal bias in the news media, and the most vehement attack of all… Obamacare, a sure-fire way to get to socialized medicine and ultimately full-blown SOCIALISM.
Obviously, they forgot that the Right was in charge during 22 out of the last 32-years. But, there’s no sense in going into THAT subject. Selective amnesia is such a Godsend, you know.
I’m as anti-socialism as anyone can be. Nor do I think that pure socialized medicine is going to solve our healthcare woes. But solve them we MUST, and quickly.
In my view, we can solve ALL of this nation’s problems. It will take the application of old-fashioned brain grease to arrive at a few reasonable compromises. But first, people have to see things as they are, not as they think they are or as they wish them to be.
Whenever I refer to conditions in other countries, I speak from experience; I’ve been there. This includes multiple trips to EVERY industrialized country in the world, as well as every socialized country in Europe. And, always thrilled to leave, I travelled to the old Soviet Union 4-times.
The taxes are much higher in these places. And, the complainers in this country always point to them as examples of where we’re headed if we keep putting the Liberals in charge. But let’s take a closer look.
The Europeans pay high taxes but they receive a lot in return. Not a penny comes out of their net paychecks for education. It’s free through the secondary level. It’s also free at most universities. And, even at the ones that charge, tuition is dirt-cheap. They don’t pay anything out of their net pay for health-care. It’s as good as ours is and cheaper on a per-capita basis: less than 50% of what we pay.
Their pensions cover at least 75% of the necessary income for people to live comfortably in retirement. They enjoy state-of-the-art mass-transportation that is either free or inexpensive to use. As well, working parents enjoy free childcare and the elder-care is free as well.
We, on the other hand, pay less in direct taxes. But, I think the point is moot. Everything the Europeans receive through higher taxes, we have to pay for directly out of our net pay. When you factor in tuition costs for college (upwards of $160,000 on average), health insurance (between 20- and 25% of our net pay), childcare, and elder-care, the picture gets a bit fuzzy.
Defined pensions are rapidly disappearing and the ones that still exist are so underfunded as to be a joke. We contribute big chunks to 401(k) plans and hope social security will cover the rest of what we need for retirement. And some people end up—through no fault of their own—with NO pensions other than social security.
And the U. S. per-capita cost for health-care is approaching $8,500 and climbing. Even worse, we’re sicker; we have higher infant mortality rates; and we have lower life expectancies. As well, our highway system is in the crapper. Our bridges are collapsing, and we have little, if any, mass-transit in most of the country.
So, what the Europeans receive for their taxes, we pay for through our noses. We just don’t CALL it taxes. On a percentage basis, the relative net pays in both places are similar. But, when you consider that the Europeans need not pay for any “benefits” out of THEIR net pay but we DO, who is actually being shafted?
So, let’s begin by making factual comparisons. We don’t have to convert to socialism, and, we WON’T unless our middle-class keeps fading south of the poverty line. And, even then, our President won't lead us there; we’ll go in mass to the polling booths to VOTE it in.
There are good solutions that include both the free-market principles of competition and enough governmental control to keep things honest. We need a system that most of us—it will never be ALL—can comfortably accept.
It might just work. What we’re doing now certainly is taking us nowhere but down the crapper. And, we the voters are going to have to demand it. The politicians will simply follow whatever course gets them elected and/or reelected… just as WE’VE ALWAYS let them do.
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.