Monday, December 24, 2012

America, at War With Itself...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty
-vs- Tyranny



Roman Colosseum
Greek Acropolis
Two arguably great ancient world cultures. Reason and senatorial governance. Two cultures that yet today have influence on western thinking and philosophy. Three giants in the realm of philosophy arose from ancient Greece, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Rome, arguably the world's greatest empire was ultimately doomed to decline and ultimate collapse, primarily the result of self destructive behaviors. Fast forward to 2012. America, arguably (once) the freest, most prosperous, and influential nation in the modern world is facing decline, just as the great nation states of Greece and Rome before them. In fact if one looks to history they will see that history is replete with examples of nations that achieved the apex of influence and power, only to experience decline and be replaced by another rising influential power. Today America is at that crucial tipping point where we either will decline or rise to new heights. The choices we make now as a nation will determine either descent or a climb to new heights.

There is a war being fought today in America. An internal war between the ideological forces of the far left progressive movement and the far right right conservative movement. On a fiscal, social, military, foreign affairs, and most everything else there is little to no common ground or desire to compromise. It is winner take all or go down trying. The rhetoric and tactics employed by both sides is intentionally counter productive to finding consensus. Driving this insanity are the ones who have the most to gain by keeping the nation divided and at each others throats. In a single word they are, the oligarchs that control the world economy and stimulate the results that keep them in power.

Both the ideologues of the left and right are being used and manipulated by forces (the oligarchs) they choose to ignore and thus fail to understand. Simply put, those who hold the real power behind the throne(s) are playing the this country, as well as the remainder of the world  like a fiddle. And we are falling for it. Without resistance.

There are multitudes of posts on conservative sites as well as progressive sites that serve to destroy, rather than to work to define common ground and determine the course most likely to result in success. But none of this apparently matters any longer as we are so busy working tearing things apart we haven't the time to build monuments to rational thinking and common sense. There doesn't seem to be any real desire to find common workable ground. Finding that solutions are evidently just too much work for Americans and their elected officials.

I am of a fiscal conservative and classical liberal mindset. I have strong libertarian social leanings, and I actually understand that compromise is what is often required to achieve a workable consensus so something of value gets done. It is evident that in today's winner take all political climate stalemate has become the accepted norm.

 As mentioned earlier there are those unseen forces that have everything to gain by keeping Americans divided. They have everything to lose if we ever actually look beyond the simple and realize we have more in common than we have differences. Being primarily of the fiscal conservative/libertarian social mindset I must say I am as distraught by many who share my beliefs and their refusal to find compromise  as I have been  with the progressives who seek to tear all things conservative and libertarian asunder.

This nation is IMNHO at the crossroads. The choices we make now will affect us, our children, and grandchildren for years to come. We can go forward together, voicing our views, attempting to persuade those with a different view to change to our why of thinking, yet at the same time recognizing that compromise (from both sides) is necessary, and in fact desirable in finding and implementing workable solutions. This is lacking in both parties and in both movements (progressive and conservative) today.

Maybe it is too late. Maybe the nation has become so fractured the damage is irreparable I hope not.

We have overcome great obstacles as a nation in the past. There is no reason we cannot do so again. The divisiveness that has almost become a national trademark can only be overcome if we once again see ourselves as one nation. It is time. Lets start on a course that will restore our fiscal integrity, preserve the individual freedoms and liberty we all cherish, conservatives and liberals alike.

There is something that should be understood by understood by conservatives, President Obama presents no greater or lesser threat to America than GWB did before him. To understand this requires an understanding of concepts. Obama is not a communist, he is really no more socialist than others who came before him, he is no more fascist than GWB,  and for those conservatives that have yet to catch up, he was elected President by a majority of the people. Just sorta, kinda, exactly like the founders intended. Now, get over it. There is work to be done. America needs solutions that ALL its people can buy into and support. In a nation the size of the USA, with our level of maturity (chronological anyway), and diversity requires the willingness to compromise. Both progressives and conservatives seem to have forgotten this.

Going off the grid for now. Everyone have a Merry Christmas, be thinking about how we can solve problem through dialog with one another.

44 comments:

  1. "Maybe it is too late. Maybe the nation has become so fractured the damage is irreparable I hope not."

    Unfortunately, I agree with you here, Les. I feel, sometimes, that we are living in a Nation destined for destruction.

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    1. There is a way to stop the descent the nation is experiencing. It will require active minds and a whole lot of hard work. Each individual citizen, as well as those we elect to represent us in the government, will need to find the answer as to how this is possible within themselves.

      Delete
  2. Any nation that would elect Obama TWICE, and forward candidates like McCain and Romney to oppose him, is already lost.

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  3. Any country that would elect Bush twice, is more than lost, it's bankrupt financially and morally.

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    1. It's quite easy to blame. Now get over it and sp something constructive.

      Delete
  4. I don't even know if it's so much left versus right anymore as it is smart versus stupid. I mean, when you have morons like Nancy Pelosi going around saying that, "We already have a plan for Medicare, it's called Medicare" and the electorate doesn't even blink an eye (Medicare and Medicaid are currently about 20% of the federal budget and if no structural changes are made that number probably rises to close to 50%), what in the hell else could you call it?

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    1. First off Will Medicare is paid via payroll taxes, which with social security is 33% of the federal governments income. Income taxes account for 47% and corporate taxes account for 12%. Medicad is a totally separate animal from medicare and should not be included in the conversation. When discussing our budget the conversation about medicare and social security have to be kept separate from any conversation about government revenues and expenditures because funds are collected for these two programs explicitly for those two programs. What you need to do is look at government revenues and expenditures with payroll taxes EXCLUDED. You also need to look at the government expenditures with medicare and social security expenses EXCLUDED.

      The reality is medicare and social security are far from bankrupt, in any sense of the word, and they are in better shape than the federal government is.

      But the conversation about medicare and social security should not be included in any discussion about the federal deficit.

      Delete
  5. At some point Tao the nation will indeed need to address social security. The mere fact that when the next wave of boomers retire (my generation) with the longer life expectancy, and the greater burden placed on the working individuals changes will need to be made. Push retirement out to 68 or 70, reduce earned benefits, or increase SS tax rates, or a combination of all three. Ditto for medicare.

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    1. That is correct, at some point, we will have to address the issue of social security and medicare, but the these two issues are separate from the issue of the federal budget and the national deficit. As it stands today, neither social security nor medicare have added a dime to the national debt.

      That actually creates a bigger problem in regards to the national debt; as you take more revenue away from the federal government than you do expenses. That is a trick that the conservatives love to use to keep from dealing with the reality that income and corporate taxes are too low.

      Further, I do not like the fact that we always lump medicare and medicaid together and we should not. One involves contributions by citizens via payroll deductions and the other does not. This is a trick that liberals love to use to protect medicaid by tying it to the more popular medicare.

      Our biggest unfunded liability, bigger than boomers retiring is the cost of taking care of our veterans; that is the biggest budget issue we will face over the next generation.

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    2. Agree that Medicare and Medicaid should be accounted for separately for the reasons you state.

      Also, either we need to increase revenue, reduce spending, or a combination of both. Rather than argue the cut tied spending I say lets close loopholes and reduce or eliminate special exemptions.

      Actually I would like to see a simplified tax code with fewer tax brackets, and reduced rates. The other side is no exemptions or deductions. Businesses should be allowed deductions for only narrowly defined legitimate actual costs to do business.

      A lot of revenue is lost do to the porosity of our current tax code. But this can be a subject for another day.

      We definitely need to take care of our veterans. We also need to reduce the size of the DoD budget and stop playing the world's policemen and arbiter of worldwide ethics. Foreign aid expenditures needs to be rethought as our treasury (our people) can no longer continue to support the extravagances the current and prior administration engaged in.

      We need a new accounting and a different rationale if we are ever to conquer the beast that we have created.

      Lots to think about and consider. But the people of the nation don't seem to be in a compromising mood. So, what's the solution to get them there. No matter which road we ultimately choose there will be some degree of pain all around methinks. That is if we don't experience total collapse first.

      As Will makes some good observations.

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  6. It depends on what your definition of "far" is. No, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security do not represent a problem in the next 4-5 years but they DO represent a major problem after 2022-2024. The demographics are such that these entitlements will eventually comprise (if you include SS) in excess of 50% budget and for morons like Pelosi, Obama, and Boehner to ignore this reality is quite discomforting.......I would also instruct you to look at the premiums and outlays per person. The average person pays $114,000 into Medicare and takes out $355,000. If any sort of private venture had had these types of statistics, they'd probably be prosecuted.

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    1. Again, you are lumping medicaid, which requires no payroll deductions, into medicare and social security, which are funded by payroll deductions. No sense having a discussion if you continue to repeat your same ol' same ol'.

      Again, start a conversation dealing with medicare and social security ONLY, as every employee and every employer contribute to those two programs via payroll deductions. Considering that payroll taxes (which sadly includes unemployment insurance, railroad pensions, federal employee pensions, and social security and medicare contributions) account for 33% of federal government revenues, if your number for social social security, medicare and MEDICAID being 50% of federal expenditures in the future you only have a 17% short fall.

      That's a totally different problem than a deficit that is cause by the government borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends.

      Now, try to follow along, you have one income stream, payroll taxes, which only should include social security and medicare deductions and then just pay social security and medicare expenses from those funds. Try to find those numbers.....no one really wants you to have them.

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  7. I'll lump together whatever I want to lump together. The fact of the matter is that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are the 3 biggest prime-movers of future debt and unless we get a get a handle on them via major structural reform, we're screwed (I notice how you didn't address the major discrepancy between $114,000 contributions and $355,000 benefits). How is this difficult for you?......And the 50% figure that I gave you was for Medicare and Medicaid. It didn't include Social Security. If it did, the number would be far more devastating.......And where did you ever learn statistics? From 33% to 50% (the real numbers to which I was alluding to are 20% and 50%, but for the sake of argument here) isn't a 17% difference. It's a 51% difference. I mean, my God, dude.

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  8. "I'll lump together whatever I want to lump together."

    That's exactly why we can't solve a damn problem in this country; conservatives such as yourself. Oh, I know, your not a conservative because "...you think Bill Clinton was a good president..."

    If something is 33% of revenue and eventually 50% of expenses then the difference is 17%. Since both numbers deal with the percentage of what they make up of the federal budget (which is actually a third variable.)

    If you were really bright you would realize that the difference between $114,000 and $355,000, your numbers, is more than 51% or as you said, "I mean, my God, dude...."

    But it really doesn't matter does it? You just like to bitch and complain....

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    1. .

      "But it really doesn't matter does it? You just like to bitch and complain...."

      Zing!! You got it!! Will "take no prisoners" Hart does not believe in letting facts get in the way of his expressing his opinion.

      Ema Nymton
      ~@:o?
      .

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    2. Ema, Will pas a moderate, he has a active mind and is well read. Certainly IMNHO he is worth listening to and giving his views consideration. Zing!

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    3. It seems that I'm not the only one lumping them together, Tao. "The Medicare and Medicaid programs are currently the primary drivers of upward pressure on the federal budget." Alice Rivlin 2010. And Erskine Bowles has made a spate of similar comments....So, are Rivlin, Bowles and me the new Axis of Evil?

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    4. And you're totally mixing up the numbers. Medicare and Social Secuity are currently 33% of the budget. Medicare and Medcaid (which was originally a $1 billion item in the budget and was never expected to be a large item but which will grow to close to $600 billion by 2023 according to OMB) are currently 20% of the budget and it is THIS combination that is projected to rise to 50% in the next 3 decades (throw in SS and it would probably mushroom to close to 70%). From 20 to 50% would be a 150% increase and would devastate the entire economy.......As for your theoretical increase from 33 to 50%, that is a 51% increase (17 over 33), I feel pretty certain about that. And the $114,000 input to $355,000 output per capita (a 68% shortfall; 241,000 over 355,000) was put forth simply to show you the unsustainability of the program. Yeah, we've been getting away with it because of the demographics but the demographics are changing and massively. I think that you really need to start listening to the more serious members of your party like Bowles and Rivlin. Hey, wait a minute, they both worked for Clinton, huh?

      Delete
  9. .

    Oh bother. Such gloom and doom.

    USA is not at war with itself. The people of USA get along with each other quite peacefully.

    Very few people are willing to become belligerent over a difference of 'OPINION'. It has been this way ever since the founding of USA. Even though you do not agree with sane people about USA being at war with itself, you are not breaking out the guns, running to your basement bunker, and shooting at your neighbors.

    Difference of opinion are resolved peacefully in USA because the people recognize peace works. People believe in USA. USA believe in the people. The people's systems work well at meeting the people's needs.

    Ema Nymton
    ~@:o?
    .

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    1. Ema, how I wish everyone was as naive as you. We wouldn't even be talking about it. Now would we? Or posting the partisan comments like the ones we, and there are thousands of we, post every day.

      Delete
  10. tao,

    When you say that taxes are too low, this means you fear the government being starved of money it deserves, and your social entitlement programs being threatened because people aren't paying their fair share.

    Yikes.

    Still waiting on your article PROVING Nancy Lanza was mentally incompetent. Or have you lost interest in this because you have not the facts?

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    1. First off, I never said taxes are too low; not once did I mention anything about taxes. All I said is that social security and medicare (FICA or Federal Insurance Contribution Act) which are funded by payroll deductions should be separated from our discussion of federal revenues for everything else as should the expenses.

      But you are jumping the gun aren't you...

      In regards to Nancy Lanza, its coming but due the holidays I am in no hurry and have other priorities.

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    2. "That is a trick that the conservatives love to use to keep from dealing with the reality that income and corporate taxes are too low."

      Taxes...too low.

      Re: Nancy Lanza. Keep trying.

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    3. If you read Donald, I said "conservatives" I did not say I believed it or was advocating it.

      Since you are an astute scholar you would also note that I was fair and balanced by noting that liberals like to tie medicaid and medicare together as a way to protect medicaid.



      Delete
  11. SS's problems can easily be remedied by removing the tax cap. That would make the program solvent, as it is, for the next 75 years.

    The troubles with Medicare and Medicaid are another matter, as they are subject to the ever rising costs of health care.

    So, we have to look at health care more holistically. First, if any one cares to notice, America is really the only developed nation on the planet without some kind of national system for all, and sure enough we pay far more for health care than does any one else. The ACA goes a ways to addressing that, but not nearly enough.

    A national public health insurance system of some kind seems to obviously be in order. This doesn't mean that it would have to be a government run and operated system. There are many options here. But we should at least consider them.

    As for Medicare directly, one quick fix would be to allow negotiations with pharmaceutical companies to reduce drug costs, and in general, changes in the patent system would ease costs for all.

    JMJ

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    1. Social Security and Medicare can easily be remedied by stopping them on Dec 31, 2012, grandfathering all who currently are paying into them, and removing them once and for all as government entitlements. This would force Americans to learn how to handle their money better, instead of believing they can give money to the govt and get it back later.

      Fiscal independence.

      I have asked and screamed about being removed from the SS/Medicare rolls, since I have made proper preparations for my advanced years. These false security programs need to end. Our government should not be in the business of money-lending. It is OUR money to begin with, and yet we are forced to surrender it under the promise we will get it back. Who honestly believes such rubbish? It's OURS. Not the government's.

      Does that make sense, Jersey?

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    2. No, that makes no sense at all. That is all ideology, no reality. I don't to live in Somalia, Mr. Borsch.

      JMJ

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    3. SO the concept of "It's OUR money, NOT the government's" makes no sense to you?

      Yikes.

      Delete
  12. Excellent post and points well taken, unfortunately those committed to hard wired ideologies such as guns, god, and other right wing nonsense are not likely to bend anytime in the near future.

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    1. HA! Oh the irony! This coming from a writer who calls them "TEA Party terrorists"! Hypocrisy, thy name is Michael Scott.

      LOL! Thanks for the laugh! Who has the 'hard wired ideology' now?

      I gladly confess I have one and rightly so. I'm quite proud of it, actually. The wise incline to the right and the foolish lean to the left. To this day that statement rings true.

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    2. Being hard wired left or hard wired right insures the continued state of gridlock, animosity, and the unjustified fear of who just might be hiding in the shadows.

      Wisdom is a virtue hard.to aquire without an open and active mind

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    3. Les,

      Well, now, hold on. Are you firm enough in your beliefs that you will not bend? If you will not bend, does this make you a person who has excused themselves from dialogue because you won't bend? Or if you will bend, does that weaken your beliefs to begin with?

      Wisdom comes from applied knowledge. Knowledge is gained through each and every interaction we have. Example: If each time I reach out my hand t the junkyard dog, and it bites me, I should have learned through trial and error to not reach out my hand, yes? So when I reach out my hand and you are standing there, you should say, "Donald, that's not wise". Liberalism has, time and again, shown itself to be rife with vitriol, venom, and petulant childishness when its will is crossed.

      Standing firm against such juvenile behavior and their mindset of "me, me, me, it's all about me and what you owe me" seems only logical, since it is what they are. Do you honestly, and I mean honestly, believe they want to compromise with your Conservatism?

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    4. My brief answer Don, which was expanded on below in response to your other comment.

      1) Yes I am strong in my principles. As applied to MY life I will not bend.

      2) I will bend in the face of a stronger logical and rational argument. Should not we all do the same?

      3) You know me better Don, I excuse myself from no dialogue in which I believe I have a stronger position.

      4) If the logic and rational argument is stronger than my own then I must, as Rand so often said, check my own premise. Rand is perhaps the most misunderstood philosopher of all time, IMNHO.

      5) On wisdom I agree with your opening statement.

      6) Your analogy works if in fact each time you extend your hand you are bitten. However, you are relating junkyard dogs to human beings that posses the ability to reason. Your misconception is that ALL liberals are like the extreme most element. Nothing could be further from the truth. Check in with Classical Liberalism. My suggestion is to drop the preconceived notions.

      7) Ask yourself Don what the me, me, me, attitude is all about on the Philosophical level. The pursuit of realizing ones own self interests do not mean living in an isolated reality or not recognizing the value others play in ones wxistence. Rather it is part of that existence. Lifevwoukd inded be borinfif we all thoufgt alike. And ifwedid freedom and liberty would be meaningless.

      So I lied, I got windy. It is after all my prerogative as it is my blog, yes?

      Think about what I have said, at the end of the day you will still be in control of your individual life. As it should be.

      Delete
  13. Borsch, ya' know how you can tell someone isn't really all that wise? They go on and on about how wise they are. To find the path of wisdom one must first admit they are in search of it, not that they have already found it.

    JMJ

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    1. jmj, wisdom is not something that happens in an instant as I'm sure you are aware. If you are then you know wisdom is aquired over time and is influenced by experience and ongoing education, quite often of the self taught variety.

      What I'm wondering is if you realize wisdom can and does have many faces. Who's to say yours is any better than Don's? It seems both sides need to take a step back, reflect, and then talk with each other, not at each other.

      My two cents, whatever they might be worth.

      Delete
  14. Results say which wisdom is better. Where we are today are results that can be judged. Negatively IMO.

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    1. There is responsibility all around. Unfortunately raw naked partisanship remains the rule of the day.

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    2. Les,

      Every fire starts as a spark. Is it wrong to find the initial spark and blame it?

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    3. It depends on your perspective Don. Given that no one person, or ideology is absolutely absolutely correct or I submit that;

      1) No, it is not wrong to express ones principles and argue strongly in advocacy of said principles. This I have done.

      2) Yes, it is appropriate to find that "initial spark" that you believe is to blame and argue for its extinction.

      3) Given the reality we live in a very large and divergent society, and, given our Constitution and the values expressed in that fine document as well as those expressed in our Declaration of independence, it is also appropriate, IMNHO, to find reasonable and workable compromise. No one person or political ideology can or should expect to have everything their way.

      4) At the end of the day one must ask themselves one simple question and be ready to honestly accept the answer. Here is the question: Why have we not been able to sell our vision to the majority of Americans, and 2) Is there a way in which we can succeed in doing so.

      5) It isn't a sellout Don, rather it is attempt in finding a way to convince others to believe in the principles we hold valid.

      Do not forget Don that millions of individual Americans have the same basic desires and hope for their families and nation that we do. There is truly more commonality amonst Americans than there are differences. However, neither side of the debate is focused on this IMNHO. Remember, the Oligarchs are still holding the power. Obama is mot the enemy really, the Oligarchs are. They purposefully are dividing America in the pursuit of maintaining control over the lives of everyone. I leave you with this... Politicians of both parties are but the pawns they use to accomplish their ends. This my friend is NOT capitalism, and it is not the vision that Rand and other staunch advocates of capitalism had in mind. The Oligarchs are pursuing the realization of serfdom for all but themselves. On a global scale.

      I leave it to you my friend to decide. Ask yourself this, what would Jesus say with respect to the above? Be at peace my brother, for WE are ALL in this life together.

      Delete
  15. if we do not identify where the mistakes are coming from, we learn nothing and are less able to fix the problem.

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    1. Indeed. Do you hear an argument to that statement? Take off the partisan blinders why don't you?

      Both political parties, by virtue of how the system works must bear responsibility for its failure, if in fact it has failed.

      It is time to talk with each other in earnest (rather than AT each other) and resolve issues together so that answers that work can be realized.

      I sense your unwillingness to do so. But perhaps it's just me.

      Delete
  16. "Is it wrong to find the initial spark and blame it?"

    Disagreeing with this comment.

    ReplyDelete

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