Thursday, July 3, 2014

Independence Day Reverie

I’ve increasingly avoided political topics recently.  To what end I’ve argued with myself.  Here we’re about to celebrate our independence while, as citizens and voters, we are held hostage by an intransigent Congress that can’t even address some of the basic needs of our society.  High on my priority list is our decaying infrastructure, inability to control the widespread distribution of assault weapons, addressing immigration reform with some realism, and an economy that is being held together by artificial means. And those are just the domestic issues.

But I’m not alone in ranting with disappointment.  Barry Ritholtz wrote an insightful article on this subject for Bloomberg View, Is This the Worst Congress Ever?  I can’t wait until he expands on his thoughts as he promises in a future article, particularly on the Federal Reserve’s role in this.  Read his commentary.  It is well worth while.

Meanwhile, we “celebrate” the 4th with the long drive from Florida to Connecticut.  I now dread the drive up I95.  In years gone by we actually enjoyed the trip but now it is mostly drudgery having to share crowded roads and hotels with people who rarely smile at you or might even just shoot you, depending on how the dice rolls nowadays.  Fewer seem to exhibit some simple common courtesy.  It’s become worse over the years, or perhaps I’ve become embittered with age, I can’t tell.

It’s an in-your-face-I’ve-got-mine-so-to-hell-with-you attitude, so incongruous with the spirit of the 4th.  I was reminded of this on a recent drive to the airport to pick up my son. I saw a bumper sticker on a pickup truck – probably from the time of Obama’s 2008 presidential race when he had emphasized it is a time for change.  Easy to remember, cleaver I thought, but a worryingly way of thinking of about half the State it seems:  I’ll keep my God, I’ll keep my guns, I’ll keep my money, YOU can keep the change!

I’m all for freedom of speech.  But this “in-your-face” slogan anecdotally underscores everything that is dysfunctional with our present political system.  Compromise and consideration of the other person’s point of view be damned! The story of our forefathers’ struggle to conceive a new nation out many points of view is what July 4th must be remembered for the next time we, the citizens, go to the polls to vote.  E Pluribus Unum!  Unless we can find common ground so our legislature works, and we can stop the march towards divisiveness and corporatocracy, July 4th will be nothing more than a fireworks show for the general amusement of a non-enlightened population.