Chris Vecchiarello: Guest opinion
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
There is a divide that is deepening in America; it has to do with the chasm between our representatives in government and the governed. This schism centers on perceptions. The electorate of the country is deeply worried about the jobless rate, the economy and the very direction of the country and its decisionmakers. Today’s worries are centered on our nation’s finances; thoughts weigh heavily on the budget of the country and the economies of other nations.
In today’s world, economic dependencies are interlinked as in no other time in history. With multinational corporations and financial institutions working across borders, transoceanic alliances have negated any working theories of an economic Monroe Doctrine. In today’s world, no country is an island, and no nation will be able to withstand the ripples of another’s economic collapse. With world banks reaping benefits of worldwide budgetary deficits, an economic war has been declared on national sovereignty, aided directly by lawmakers who blindly spend money on wars, influence and posterity policies that the governed and governments cannot possibly pay for.
While our elected representatives have increasingly spent more and brought in less, the American electorate tried to figure out how to stem the tide of deficit spending for the past four national elections. We have traded sides in the White House and the Congress more than once with no true change in monetary policy or deficit spending.
Electing candidates from the other party to oust the current representatives has not worked. Disenfranchised with the incumbent, we elect the other side of the same coin, hoping for a change. The problem is not with the parties or the incumbents but rather with the entire system.
There is no accountability with the current structure of our government. If you govern poorly enough to be defeated, you simply return to the private sector no matter how poorly you have performed. In our republic, the worst that happens to the corrupt or incompetent is that you leave office, are granted your full pension and most likely go to work for an organization that leverages your public service to benefit a private concern.
I believe that the individuals who penned the Constitution had the right idea about forming a mechanism to foster “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The problem lies with the corruption of that idea from the initial brilliance of a system where a people could be protected and guided to prosperity and greatness. There must be a way of ensuring that decisions are made for the good of the populace and not for the few entities that use their connections and money to sway opinion and lawmaking.
Instead of enabling individual liberties, we have become mired in control of the population. Instead of fostering individual independence, our government has become an enabler. To paraphrase the saying, “If you give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.” Our government has forgotten the lesson of such colloquial wisdom.
I believe that a government should provide for a population that cannot take care of itself, with the caveat that those who can indeed care for themselves be aided to do so. I believe in extending a hand to those in need by helping someone to help them self, not by giving a handout. I believe that self-esteem is raised by hard work and self-worth is increased through empowerment. I believe that entitlement has led us down a road that will be fraught with consequences and that the piper will indeed be paid in full for our choices thus far.
The disconnect that I referred to in the beginning of this article has never been more pronounced or prominent. The elected never seem to truly grasp the perception of their constituents. They believe that their ascension to office is an ordainment by the people that aligns and justifies the party’s ideology, when in fact the office was bestowed through frustration with the general direction of government itself. It matters not which party takes control, the victor sees the swing as a confirmation of deeper policies rather than the true notion that the voting populace feels that government in and of itself has run amok.
Spending is out of control; regulation is legislated only with the guidance of the parties to be regulated. The working class takes the blame for our deficits, yet corporations and the wealthy are granted more leniency with respect to monetary obligations to the community it benefits from.
Some conservative legislators are considering the possibility of defaulting on our debt. To even suggest defaulting on our debt is to destabilize an already fragile economic recovery. This option only underscores a lack of understanding of economics and a lack of concern for the American people, our republic and the world economic picture as a whole.
Simply stated, our government needs to put out the fire and then safeguard against future fiscal conflagrations. Why would anyone play around with fiscal suicide? Just because you extend the credit ceiling does not mean that you have to use that credit. However, the converse will surely bring more damage to the world and to this country. It would be like setting off an economic neutron bomb. All the financial buildings would be left standing but the financial stability of the world would be destroyed.
When Lehman Brothers failed, the economic repercussions were felt worldwide. The default of one banking institution created a panic and caused considerable damage to a world economy. Lehman was small potatoes compared to the financial repercussions of a U.S. default.
We, as a nation, can no longer afford inaction or stupidity when it comes to our officers of government. How we go about ridding the U.S. of incompetence remains the crux of the problem. I suggest that the system is partially to blame. With a two-party system we have unwittingly set up a competitive system where one side tries to outdo the other.
Rather than govern for the populace as a whole, two parties battle each other for supremacy so the winner can implement its ideas and philosophy. What we need is less ideology and more commonality. What we need are leaders who wish to make this country great again, to restore economic stability and a prosperity that has been legislated away from the common people of the nation. What we need is a system that eliminates competition between two polarities and encourages dynamics of nationalism to better our country’s interests.
Is the answer a three-party system? I do not know for sure. All I know is that after watching the two parties battle each other for decades, I am sorely disappointed in our government and would suggest that the authors of the Constitution would be dismayed to see how the political system has deteriorated into the highly dysfunctional governing body that now exists.
“2023 predicted to be the Vintage of a Lifetime in Napa Valley,” proclaimed the headline this week in a press release sent out by the Napa Valley Vintners, the trade organization that represents the growers and producers in America’s most famed wine region. If there is anyone more optimistic than winemakers, it is the group that represents them.