National Commentary

5 Signs Of Our Broken Society

bentonmug

A Gallup Poll result released yesterday shows the national approval rating for the U.S. Congress is an all-time low of 13 percent. This comes even after it has became apparent the tax compromise between President Obama and Senate Republicans will be passed into law soon.
There are a wide number of factors that have contributed to why government in Washington, as reflective of our wider society, is clearly broken.

A Gallup Poll result released yesterday shows the national approval rating for the U.S. Congress is an all-time low of 13 percent. This comes even after it has became apparent the tax compromise between President Obama and Senate Republicans will be passed into law soon.

There are a wide number of factors that have contributed to why government in Washington, as reflective of our wider society, is clearly broken. Here are my Top Five:

* The so-called tax deal, which extends the Bush era tax cuts for the super-rich for another two years, is in the process of becoming law with an overwhelming push from both Republicans and Democrats. The GOP backs it because it contains its Number One objective, serving the interests of the rich. The Dems back it because, in the current political reality, its defeat would presumably turn their own base, the middle class, against them.

However, the compromise constitutes a massive imbalance, with the rich gaining $700 billion and the rest of us enjoying at best a very modest financial benefit. The chronically unemployed will receive more assistance, but it is hardly enough to live on. In sum, the rich get what they want by throwing a few measly crumbs to the rest of us.

* The silence of the Tea Party on this issue is downright deafening! If there was any doubt that this political phenomenon is nothing but a flank of Wall Street interests, then this confirms that beyond a doubt. I thought these people were supposed to be against the abuse by the rich of the rest of us. I guess not.

* How long will we put up with the utterly contemptible spectacle of athletes and entertainers earning ridiculous amounts of money, while the rest of us struggle?

Does anyone care that, while on the front section of the newspaper, the fight over something as basic as unemployment insurance is tearing Washington apart, back in the sports section of the same newspaper is a headline about a baseball player, right in Washington who will play blocks from the Capital, who signed a contract for $122 million?

The player has 688 base hits in his major league career. That means he’ll be earning $17,732 for every base hit he has recorded in the big leagues. He’ll be earning more for every base hit he’s ever struck than the entire annual salary of someone working full-time at minimum wage, averaging from state-to-state about $7.50, which totals $15,600.

More for a single hit for one man than an entire year’s labor for another!

Some may argue that the player earns it because of his talent. But if striking a little ball with a big bat means you are worth that much to society, then compare it with the importance of teachers, for example. Teacher salaries, while maybe not be at minimum wage, are still only worth, say, two or three base hits, depending on the severity and extent of budget cuts.

* Many in the American public seem to have an overwhelming desire not to know what their government is doing with their tax dollars and security, if you measure popular reaction to WikiLeaks. Between preferring not to know and not to care, an awful lot of people seem content to limit their political activity to grumbling at their government as long as they can have their beer and football.

* Such titans of moral fortitude also remain passive to the fact that majority rule, as in the proverbial “will of the people,” has long since exited the corridors of our national government. The significance of the recent phenomenon that it takes 60 votes, not 51, to pass a bill in the U.S. Senate seems lost on most. The same goes for the perpetuation of the Electoral College system. But both major parties perpetuate these injustices because they perceive they will gain advantage from them depending on circumstances, at the expense of individual citizen enfranchisement.

Just think of it, if “majority rules” in America were our standard for governing, George W. Bush would not have been elected in 2000, and much more comprehensive health care reform and many other needed reforms would be law by now.


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at nfbenton@fcnp.com

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