Standard & Poor’s is extracting an ounce of payback on the United States after they were ridiculed and had their wrists slapped for rating Lehman Brothers an A, a month before bankruptcy.
The problems- as with most of our problems in the United States- comes back to the fact that we’ve been forced to employ clowns and puppets in Congress and the White House for way too long. The circus as government has to be stopped.
To begin with, political office shouldn’t be a career position. I’m not advocating term limits by any means- there is nothing wrong with having the option to keep the best people in office for a long time. The two-year term for the House of Representatives was set that long for a reason- to force frequent accountability of the officeholder. The problem, like most of our problems is due to the “economy” we’ve created around campaigns. Elections have for the most part become auctions. The minimum bid for Congress is around a million dollars- this is ludicrous and twisting our system into a bad joke to be played on voters.
It’s quite simple to end: Finance the informational campaign for public office with public dollars instead of allowing it to be co-opted by special interests. The other major change would be to change our polling methods from a simple ballot to an instant runoff ballot which allows voters to rank candidates- this would get us away from always having to decide between just two candidates and allow some other positions to advance.
Major changes to the financial system itself are long overdue. How one group of bond-rating people can take an A away from the U.S. bond rating and send the financial markets on a death spiral is ludicrous. Apple and Google didn’t change their business models over the weekend but both saw huge drops in their stock yesterday. The stock market valuations are now less reliable than a bookie’s line as an indication of future performance. This has to stop. Stocks were never meant to be dealt like hands of poker at a casino- with every hand to be bet on differently- stocks were supposed to represent long-term positions on a company’s business model. The idea of trading the same stock multiple times in a matter of minutes should have been outlawed after the last flash crash- however our politicians, who are beholden to Wall Street money for their campaigns, refuse to make the necessary changes to financial markets. Eliminate flash trading altogether- and either put limits on numbers of times an “investor” can move in and out of a stock in a year- or put requirements on length of ownership based on size of holdings. Day trading as a whole is nothing more than gambling- and sound financial markets can no longer be run like a casino (especially one where the wealthy are playing like they own the house).
While calls for a “balanced budget” are the pipe dreams of a country that doesn’t understand how modern monetary systems work, there has to be a realization somewhere that wars cost a lot- both in terms of money and long-term impact on our country. Wars only last 10 years if you are incompetent. How is it that a bunch of rag-tag misanthropes without an air force, armored vehicles or GPS enabled, satellite real time data feeds are keeping the most expensive military in the world at work for ten years? How do we lose two dozen Navy SEALS to an “RPG” – simple, we’re paying the price once again of having puppets and clowns running the country. The Chinook helicopter that got shot down isn’t fit for a battlefield that’s changed in the 50 years since it was first deployed- before the days of Stinger missiles. The aircraft that was supposed to replace the Chinook- the Osprey, was a political boondoggle of epic proportions. Billions spent on a design that didn’t do anything better- but once the course was set the pork kept it on track.
Wars cost a lot. They also make a lot of money for big defense contractors, who in turn finance our politicians in their auctions for office. We’re not going to see an end to either our war- or our outlandish defense budget until we reform our process of elections. The first and best solution right now- is to send all of Congress and the overpaid CEOs of our military industrial complex on a guided tour of Afghanistan during daylight hours in Chinooks- and make them drive on the roads in the HUMVEEs that they originally sent our troops into battle in. Our military knows how to win real wars- what they can’t win against is the need for our politicians to keep their political war chests full. Take the money out of politics and we may see some level headed thinking about the real costs of a war.
Last but not least- this country doesn’t deserve a AAA rating as long as we have a junk-bond status health-care system. Once again, due to politicians’ dependence on donations like a junkie’s dependence on the pusher’s dope supply, politicians somehow have confused “Health Care” and “Health Insurance” as being one and the same. They’re not. Paying for “health insurance” is no different than our other systems of gambling being mistaken for sound financial practice- any system where 35% of the costs is eaten by administrative middlemen is nothing more than a shakedown. It’s time for this country to join every other country with a AAA rating with a national health-care system. There is no reason to keep paying health insurance CEOs $100 million a year to cover only a third of our nation. Again out plutocracy is failing a majority of us, but we are powerless to stop it- we can’t buy an honest politician because they can’t exist in our cesspool system.
I think the biggest joke today is that we still believe this country isn’t some kind of third world banana republic with pay-to-play graft and corruption. I remember being “taught” in my international business courses about the disgusting practices around the world where bribes and arcane rules made it expensive and complex for foreigners like us to do business. Folks, it’s time to look in the mirror.
We don’t deserve a AAA rating or even an A rating until some serious effort is made to bring back the country that our founding fathers imagined (with a little more emphasis on equality and justice for all). It’s time for a total process improvement plan for the way we run our country and elect our leaders, or a single A rating will soon be followed by a B and on down the line. We’re already bankrupt and can’t admit it, and we can’t fix it until we make the changes above.
First steps are the hardest- Members of Congress- enjoy your Chinook rides.