With Standard and Poor's downgrading of U.S. credit worthiness, it should be clear that the macabre debt ceiling dance the U.S. president and Congress just performed was not about credit worthiness or fiscal policy or economic fundamentals. It was a battle between extortionist credit rating agencies—Moody's, Fitch, and Standard and Poor's—and most recently the U.S. government, although Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and now Spain and Italy have also been engaged. As usual, President Obama rolled without much of a fight, and Congress went along after multiple public tantrums only to have Standard and Poor's declare the world's largest economy incapable of meeting its long-term obligations. S&P, Fitch, and Moody's were involved in giving their credit blessings to those trash securities that have brought us to this state, so why on the face of it should we believe anything they say? The agencies might say they are simply providing advice to investors, but they are really economic terrorists profiting from the instability they bring to the markets with their pronouncements on a nation's or business's credit worthiness. Let them pass judgment from behind bars—that's where they belong.
The real paralysis in the U.S. is political. and it is due to the large and growing disconnect between the people and our elected officials who serve only monied interests and their own venality. We need a mechanism for dissolving Congress and calling new elections. We also need to recognize that the current electoral system is corrupt—in thrall to the rich—and I include the President with Congress. The size of the Congress should be doubled at least and people seeking to represent those smaller districts should actually have to go meet and talk to their constituents. I say that because of a deep suspicion that a fundamental reason people don't vote is that they don't know the candidates. The candidates don't know them either, leaving them to represent anyone willing to contribute toward their permanent advertising budget.
I'd like to have some sort of parliamentary system, perhaps with some kind of proportional representation system, like exists in Germany. Each person gets two votes-- one for the single member constituency and the other for the party. Half the seats would be elected by single member constituency in winner take all elections, and the other half should be appointed by party, with each party getting an allotted percentage of these seat from the percentage of the votes on the second vote.
We need some system for calling elections and a dramatically reduced campaign time during elections.
We also need a constitutional amendment that says donations to political campaigns are not free speech.
This is the biggest problem right now. Our campaign finance laws have been truly wrecked by the Citizen United decision. It is very hard for those without money to run at all against those who have big corporate backers. The whole state of Wisconsin, for example, has just had a hostile corporate take-over. It's not just the union-busting governor. The also took out Mr. Campaign Finance Reform himself, Russ Feingold.
I see a lot of parallels with what has happen in Wisconsin to what happend in West Virginia. The United Mine Workers were broken in West Virginia in the 1980's, and a state that once stood very firmly with pro-labor Democrats has moved deeper into right field. That's the goal with Wisconsin, de-unionize it, destroy wages and benefits, and let the evangelical snake-oil salesmen tell everyone who to vote for.
We also have to do something about corporate personhood. That's a legal fiction that has run riot for far too long in the United States.
We do have political paralysis in this country. This should be more popularly known as the Tea Party Downgrade, but the problem is that this shouldn't have even been discussed.
Obama should have had congress to raise it last year after the elections, when the Democrats still had the majority in the house, or failing to do that, Obama should have stuck it the Republican leadership in a very Franklin Roosevelt way-- or even the way Bill Clinton told him to. Tell the people the debt ceiling goes to pay for all the spending bills that Boehner, Cantor, and Co appropriated during the Bush II administration. That tactic should have been deployed in May, as soon as they refused to raise it the first time.
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