Saturday, September 11, 2010

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Here in Minnesota, the race for Governor is a three-way battle that spans the political spectrum from extreme right to extreme left.

Tom Emmer, the Republican pick, vows to cut taxes and balance the huge budget shortfall, presumably all within the same frame of reality. He refuses to disclose which programs would fall to his slash-and-burn approach, although the other candidates are understandably vague about cuts as well.

Mark Dayton, having used his personal wealth to buy victory in the primary, wants to erase the deficit by hiking taxes "on the rich". Presumably this would also require state troopers to barricade border crossings to prevent the wealthy folks from leaving.

Tom Horner is hoping to fill the center and pick up the majority of voters uncomfortable with both extremes, although he disavows the "split the difference" concept. He is a former business-oriented Republican who claims to have "new ideas".

Perhaps Horner does have new ideas; I would love to hear them. Emmer says he wants to reinvent the way state government works; he can start explaining this any time now. Reforms could be needed in the way programs are administered. For example, public schools have had funding increased in the past, but did the product improve commensurately? Many graduates appear to function at near-moron levels - is this something that money can fix? Or is the culture to blame?

The problem with this race is that the budgetary woes are tied to national economic trends, so however ingenious the next governor turns out to be, the money simply is not going to be there. Raising taxes while in a depression amounts to squeezing blood from a turnip, but candidly explaining the alternatives to the voters requires qualities that few politicians have been able to muster. There appears to be a state of denial concerning the severity of the situation. Thus far the legislature and governor have resorted to budgetary gimmicks and shifts, but this cannot continue and major pain lies ahead. The state's school districts have needed to borrow nearly 2 billion to cover shifts and delays in state aid, but this is predicated on the money being repaid at some point. Fat chance.

Again, we must turn to the theme that partisan politics is but a charade and a sham. Fundamental policies have remained constant over decades, despite both parties taking their turn in power. With Republicans looking to be big winners in November, it's important to reiterate this. Voters are angry about the economy, corporate bailouts, and health care legislation, so they swing the pendulum back the other way (even though the depression began under Bush). Perhaps this would be a great thing if real change ensued, but it won't. Republicans are purchased and controlled by the same forces as Democrats. Unless the system changes, the true seat of power will not change.

Personally, I am quite disapointed with Obama, but of course I knew I would be. The PTB rigged the election as usual with a designated loser (McCain), so one can't be faulted for having voted for Obama. Here is my rundown of major issues at this time:

The health care legislation is a true disaster, and needs to be repealed. Hopefully a Republican congress will be able to do that, but don't bet on it.

The war in Afghanistan is immoral, illegal, and warmongering continues unabated just as if Bush were still in power. Still think the president makes his own decisions?

The Obama crowd seems to continue the same cozy ties with Banksters & Wall Street as did Bush. All the chest-beating about financial accountability and fairness to consumers resulted in legislation that adds more layers of bureaucracy without offering much improvement.

The danger is high that the Israelis will be given the green light to attack Iran in what will be remembered as an enormous folly. The US and Europe are in the early stages of a prolonged economic depression, and historically this has led to large-scale war. The chances of nuclear weapons being used are high, and both Tel Aviv and Teheran could be reduced to smoldering craters. We can only hope that reason will prevail or that higher celestial forces will intervene.

The enormous amount of debt that the federal government is incurring is unsustainable, and my thinking is that it leads to a crisis and collapse of some kind, followed by radical system-wide changes. The question is whether the changes will be of the sensible kind that foster stability and prosperity. The answer depends on the outcome of the Shift in Consciousness that is now underway. My hope is there is daylight on the other side of the storm. Remember that I am an optimist.

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