Boomers Make Poor Legislators…

The 70th anniversary of D-Day got me thinking about our parents’ “Greatest” generation, what they lived through, and how bad Congress has become.

The connection?

bob doleWhen they were in Congress, bi-partisan work got done, taking care of our needs seemed to more often trump taking care of their own careers, they were not quite so easily bought.  Nothing like making it through a great depression and a world war to build character…

In contrast, today’s Congress is made up of mostly Boomers… best at living up to our “me” generation moniker.  Now Congress gets john-boehnernothing of import done from a preference for over-the-top partisanship, takes care of their own careers rather than the country’s needs, and are quite easily bought.  For those of us who like our Social Security and Medicare, be grateful those programs were created during our parents’ tenure.

The conclusion: Boomers make poor national leaders.  In Florida, our children as leaders aren’t faring much better.

I’ve always believed that anyone wanting to run for Congress is most likely not a good candidate because the ego it takes to want such a thing will most likely outpace his/her ability to truly lead.  And the folks I’d like to see in Congress don’t want the job.

Ah for the Founders’ concept of “citizen legislators” – folks who had a life (other than politics), went to Washington for short periods (Jefferson envisioned terms of no more than 9 years, with Representatives rotating out every 3, similar to the current practices of Boards of Directors) to represent their constituents’ needs, then returned home to continue their real lives.  Here’s an example provided by Thomas Jefferson in 1797:

“All [reforms] can be… [achieved] peaceably by the people confining their choice of Representatives and Senators to persons attached to republican government and the principles of 1776; not office-hunters [stressor mine], but farmers [the main vocation of the day…notice he didn’t say lawyers and doctors, who make up most representatives today] whose interests are entirely agricultural [eg of their main profession]. Such men are the true representatives of the great American interest and are alone to be relied on for expressing the proper American sentiments.”

He also envisioned representatives be uncompensated, to ensure their motives were to serve, not to become enriched themselves:

“I have the consolation of having added nothing to my private fortune during my public service and of retiring with hands as clean as they are empty.”
Jefferson to Diodati, 1807.

Let’s find a bunch of the latter (true citizen legislators) and convince them to run, so we can eliminate the former (what we have now).

Some of them may even be Boomers.

 

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It’s All About Obama?…

barack obamaWow!  According to pretty much the entire media industry, Obama was given a stern rebuke by we voters, akin to getting his hand slapped by his body-politic mothers for dipping one too many times into the cookie jar.

Wow, are they wrong.

As much as both the “liberal” media and the conservative Republicans want us to believe voting outcomes were about Obama – anti “Obamacare”; anti Obama compromises; anti Obama big government – this mid-term election overhaul was in fact about nothing more than people being unhappy and believing the only power they had to do something about it was to vote out members of the ruling majority.

And the truly unfortunate reality of doing so, is voters kind of did the nose-cutting-off-face thing, having not done their homework on what they got from the major legislation enacted while those folks were in office.  And what they could now lose after “voting out the bums…”  Here’s just a few:

  • The healthcare legislation as it stands will reduce the deficit by an estimated $138 billion over 10 years (according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office), and new healthcare plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients
  • The financial regulatory reform law restricts the ability of banks whose deposits are federally insured, from trading for their own benefit, so never again will we see banks trading on their own financial securities like mortgage-backed assets, the big-bank pocket-stuffing practice that precipitated the credit crisis, thus the Great Recession in 2008
  • The EPA’s power to reduce greenhouse gasses shown conclusively to be harmful to our health (such as high levels of mercury & lead spewed from coal-burning plants) as reinforced by the US Supreme Court

Finally, if that doesn’t convince you, here’s an excerpt from a recently published article about possible changes to the healthcare legislation that will be attempted by many of our newly elected, on favstocks.com:

“Congress might attempt to dismantle the bill piece by piece.  One provision that many people want to remove is the individual mandate, which will require most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty.  This provision also kicks in in 2014, and it’s one that Baby Boomers in particular will want to fight to keep.

Here’s why: Beginning in 2014, private insurance companies will no longer be able to refuse to insure someone because of a pre-existing condition.  But without an individual mandate, there will be no incentive for younger and healthier people to purchase health insurance until the time comes when they need it.  This means those left in the insurance “risk pool” will be older, and that drives up the cost of insurance.

By the time we reach 50, nearly all of us have “pre-existing conditions.”  Some of our conditions are common, and some are not – mesothelioma, for example, is rarely diagnosed in patients younger than 50.  And without Medicare or other good insurance, mesothelioma treatment would be financially devastating.

But without the individual mandate requiring that healthier people share in the cost of insuring all of us, the health insurance premium bills for people aged 50 to 65 will be ruinous.”

A Fairy Tale for the Silent Majority

Once upon a time, in a land that was the mightiest throughout the world, the people in charge known as “Boomers” became very disgruntled and returned to their roots of activism; well, actually, only a small number of them did, but the media made it seem like it was lots & lots of them…

Yes, the protestors, on the extreme of both sides of the political divide, became very ugly…ooops, uh, vocal… about their unhappiness with many things the rulers of the land were doing, things like:

  • Passing “health care reform” where the peoples’ money was to be used to keep lots & lots of loyal subjects from, well, dying because they couldn’t afford care
  • Or not passing the part of health care reform called the “public option” whereby all subjects get government backed insurance no matter what
  • Or being too hard…or too soft… on a problem called “illegal immigration” whereby millions of people from another land called “Mexico” sneak in without permission to get work that no one else wants, but also get publicly funded healthcare and education…

These protestors were portrayed by the mainstream media as representing what most people of the land believed.

But low and behold, they were actually:

  • only 24% of all Republican voters, and only 20% of all Democratic voters
  • Boomers who were overwhelmingly White & male
  • Boomers who were retired or semi-retired so they had lots of time on their hands
  • or Boomers who were unemployed so they had lots of time on their hands and they were really cranky…

The most widely publicized complaint made by a group of these protesting subjects was that government money spent on programs called “entitlements,” designed to help the people of the land, are bad…except the ones they use (like a thing called “Social Security,” a government program designed to help the aging people of the land…or something called “unemployment compensation,” a government program to help people pay their bills while they’re out of work…).

And they vowed to take their revenge on any of the land’s leaders who voted for any such programs like health care reform without a public option, or health care reform of any sort which some protestors believed wasn’t needed at all, since most of them would soon be eligible for a thing called “Medicare” – another government program providing medical coverage for older subjects…

Thus, over a short period of time, and with help from the entire range of main stream media, it appeared that a minority of the land’s subjects would be able to dictate what the majority would get & what they “should” believe.

But alack, what about the other 56%?  Where did they stand?  What did they want?  Why were their voices not resounding out across the land?

We don’t as yet know the answer, but the moral of the story is:

In a land where the majority rules, and that majority is a “silent” one, the many will see their fate sealed by the will of the few…and in any other land, that is called a “dictatorship.”

We want to know what you think of our fairy tale.

This Boomer's Idea of the Perfect Bail-out Package

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!!

 

Or, more accurately:

 

The stock market’s crashing, the economy’s tanking!!!

 

The former, I think, is true only in that as we continue to pull lots of carbons out of the ground and spew them into the air, the sky falls ever closer to levels of damage beyond repair in this century.

 

The latter, I think, is more a matter of melodramatic, histrionic thinking seeded by failed but still very powerful bankers/corporations who don’t want to be held fully accountable for their bad behavior and exceptionally poor business practices like they will be if they have to handle this all by their weeny little selves.   They know that a “bail-out” will save their beautifully-clad asses and shield them from losing their personal shirts. 

 

They also know that the alternative will NOT cause the economy to collapse albeit the process won’t be pretty, for sure, but WILL force them to face and deal with the collossal pig-sty they created (my apologies to pigs…), with all the lost compensation that goes with it.  Over 200 very credible, highly regarded economists and scholars agree: this mess might get a little ugly, but will work itself out without one penny of government “bailing” money.

 

Finally, they are banking on (pun intended) the demonstrated m.o. of Americans these days, led by we Boomers (and unlike our parents); that we are not much for sacrifice on any level, are driven by the need for immediate gratification regardless of its long-term consequences, and therefore we will fall for anything that will keep us from the pain associated with atoning for our own glaring mistakes (making unabashedly bad if not somewhat greedy decisions to take on mortgages we couldn’t afford, with incomes that didn’t warrant the amount we borrowed, gambling on a big pay-off in a few short years as though our homes were a mini Vegas….).

 

Are they right?  Well, so far, they’ve completely underestimated the American public.  One point for us!

 

But the “bail-out” package is still worming it’s way through Congress (having at this writing won support in the Senate and now on its way to the House), and given Congress’ indebtedness to the bail-outees, will most likely pass.  One point for the bankers.

 

So, given that we Americans have a poor track record of holding our representatives closely accountable for their actions/lack thereof, an equally poor propensity for voting at all let alone voting anyone out of office for glaringly self-promoting performances, and our representatives’ certainty of this, what we want at this point really doesn’t matter. 

 

I guess you know that by now, given that an overwhelming majority of Americans are against the bail-out and it’s going to happen anyway.  Congress’ justification: we’re just too uninformed (read stupid) to know what’s really best for ourselves…and I have to admit they have a point as it relates to who we’ve chosen through our own apathy as our government leaders….  But they’re more than willing to accept our exceptional thinking prowess when we do vote and cast one for them, so I guess that’s where our brain power really lies…(?!)

 

Anyway, back to the bail-out.  Since it will happen, here’s a list of revisions to the provisions that I recommend Boomers insist upon when (and I hope it won’t be “if”) you call your Congressman today and tomorrow morning:

  • The amount not be a flat $700B with a phase-in component ( we know from experience that they will spend it all, and more…), but instead be authorized for only the first “phase in” amount of $250B: anything thereafter must be subject to Congressional vote, just like this was;
  • The “requirement that the Treasury Dept. make rules to prevent excess executive compensation” have a specific time-line by which that report will be due; the same goes for the President’s “established plan to recoup the cost from the financial industry if, after five years, there are any losses”;
  • “Cap deductibility of executive’s pay packagesfor firms that get $300M or more from the program…”?! I DON’T THINK SO….  Cap executive compensation period, at $500K for firms who get any bail-out money whatsoever
  • Oh, and the whole idea of raising the FDIC guarantee amount to $250,000 from the current $100K?  That is simply a ploy to get some folks to vote for this package.  It is not something that will ultimately benefit any more than 5% of Americans (personal or business), and it will simply increase what we’ll have to “bail out” when banks behave badly again…and I promise you, without serious regulation/oversight, they will – their historical track record proves it.  Eliminate this provision;
  • As for the ever-present and quite predictable throwing-in of all sorts of items that have nothing to do with the activity of “bailing” – inasmuch as I agree with most of them, particularly insurance coverage parity for mental illesses to physical ones, and tax breaks for clean, home-grown energy alternatives, they have no business in this bill and need to be handled separately, where they belong.

Well, that’s it, guidance from your Boomer Coach, whose job it is to provide you with all the relevant information you need to make a fully informed decision, do the research/compile the facts to that end, and be completely honest with you even when some of that feed-back isn’t a happy meal.

 

I’m Terri Benincasa, and I wrote this message.