Monday, February 1, 2010

Out of circulation

isconsin Political Fix
not just another blog
February 1, 2010

By Bill Kraus

In a 1978 column in the New York Times, Bill Safire said the country’s inability to think anew, to change, to welcome new ideas, and to deal with new challenges was a sure sign of hardening of the political arteries.

He predicted this affliction would worsen.

He was right.

There are multiple reasons why we cannot seem to cope.

The rise of the influence of the interests. The interests are a permanent part of our democracy. They have been around since the beginning but were never so well armed or financed.

The fear of change.

The power of the status quo.

The reluctance to compromise because this might lead to the loss of the increasingly important majority in an increasingly partisan political universe.

For these reasons and more the status quo was always a three-touchdown favorite. On difficult, complicated, contentious questions it has gotten to the point that it is even more entrenched.

In Washington and in Madison, several agenda items that have achieved a third-rail, too-hot-to-handle status.

In Washington:
  • Immigration
  • Social security funding as the baby boomers become eligible
  • A health care system that costs too much, delivers too little, and affects the competitiveness of the businesses which provide and pay for it.
  • Medicare solvency
In Madison:
  • A tax system overly reliant on property taxes
  • Funding the public schools
  • The Milwaukee public schools
  • Structural deficits everywhere that won’t go away

What is not made clear to those to whom the voters have given the power to deal with the problems that we are not facing is that by not voting for action, they are voting to preserve what almost everyone regards as a failed status quo.

Hardening of the arteries is almost always fatal in humans. In governments as well? There is no reason to think otherwise.

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