Monthly Archives: March 2014

“Bring your brooms!”

I saw a commercial for Marty Huggins….I’m sorry!  I meant Mark Jacobs, a Republican running for the senate seat about to be vacated by Tom Harken.  In it he makes his case by saying that he’s been a businessman who has had to “make payroll” and has “balanced budgets.”

That is the criteria that many Americans feel is needed the most in Washington.

Jacobs ends his spot by throwing a calculator into his box of things he’s bringing with him.  Cute.

I was reminded (actually, I’ve never forgotten) that this was the same rhetoric used in the 2010 elections by the likes of Romney, Trump, and well, just about every single Republican running for anything:  “Government is a business and I can run it!”

It makes sense to a lot people that during tough economic times we need ledger balance leaders from the business world.

(Curiously, many of the people who believe that, are up to their ears in debt, but it has been my experience that very few people actually live the way they say the rest of us should)

This idea could very well decide the Midterm elections and the course of America and it is wrong….dead wrong.

To start this off with a bang, does everyone know the history of businessmen as presidents?  There have been two:  Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush.

How’d they work out?

An economic disconnect was inevitable because our businessman-presidents failed to recognize a simple reality:  The Federal Government is not a business- it is a government.

Two very different definitions, objectives and responsibilities.  Nowhere in our Constitution is it outlined or stated that the form of government being created therein is to be run like a business. Nowhere in the Separation of Powers and the Branches of Government does it resemble the paradigm of a business. Nor does the purpose of a business share the responsibilities of representation.

“But Gary, government should be run like a business, that would be a good thing!” is the oppositional statement that I just made up so that I could address this argument.

The demand on a business is that it produces a profit; that is how it sustains, grows and gives the shareholders their dividends. There is no guarantee that it will be a successful business and fulfill that end into perpetuity, and so the responsibility for leadership falls on its CEO and the Board of Directors.  They alone make the decisions to realize that goal, but usually leverage their personal risk onto the business itself.

If you were to compare this paradigm to a form of government, it would more closely resemble a Dictatorship; the decisions are made at the top and implemented down the chain of command.  Employees (citizens) comply with the rules or lose their jobs.

A representative democracy (a Republic) is the form of government outlined by our Constitution where the fundamental objective is to “represent” its constituency, according to that charter, fairly and evenly.  Where the poorest, least powerful voices among us are represented as fully as anyone else.

The authority, therefore, rests in the body of the people, as a whole, and the leadership pyramid is turned upside down.

What has happened, causing a serious government dysfunction, is that the “people” in this great republican experiment have been marginalizing their own voice by allowing special interests, controlled by wealth, to invade policy.  Wealth, by its very nature, compromises equality and inevitably leads toward a plutocracy, which is anything but representative democracy.  Wealth, in and of itself, is not corrupt (and most of us share a desire to accumulate it), but it is also does not carry a moral directive, and when it overwhelms a system predicated on equality, justice can be corrupted.

The business model for government is the wrong vessel to correct the course of our societal and economic health. In fact, it is what we have been evolving toward for decades following neoliberal economic policy since the 1970’s and is the fundamental transformation that has weakened the consumer class.  It came to fruition under President Reagan’s “trickle down” policies and was harvested by the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

Consider that those at the top of the economic pyramid have increased their holdings by 250% over the past 30 years.  The top 1% controls nearly half of America’s wealth and the top 10% controls 90%.  That is the business-model and it led us into a deep recession because the engine of capitalism, the Middle Class, has been squeezed into near non-existence.

If we want to correct our course and establish sustained prosperity by strengthing the consumer that spends the money that, in turn, grows the economy, the last thing we want to do is make America more of a “business” and less of a Republic.

Our trend toward appeasing the rich almost suggests a collective memory of the conservative allegiance to King George, leaving many people more comfortable with the thought of a Ruling Class.  Yet, we are still a free, democratic, republican government and we, collectively, hold the power over ourselves.  We cannot effectively exercise that power, however, until we agree on certain principles.

But, there’s good news– those principles are already written down, ratified and sworn to be upheld; they exist in our great charter; the Constitution.

Businesses employ us, create opportunity and fuel spending; there is nothing inherently wrong with the business model, but it isn’t a model for fair and impartial governance.  Only if we elect legislators who understand and support the constitutional tenets that protect freedom of religion, speech, inalienable rights, and egalitarian justice with equal representation, can we begin to create better “government.”

A business has little interest in, or need for, such ideas, unless they increase margins and profit for shareholders….like the Motch brothers.

 

 

 

 

My Confession

confessionI…am…a…hetero…sexual.

There!  I said it!  You can’t imagine the relief.  I didn’t choose to be this way, I just AM.  Some fateful decision was made before I was born, not by me, but by whatever forces that conspired to create me, to make me straight.

And somehow that choice is made for me every day because without any conscious decisions of my own I continue on this path of attraction to…girls.

Believe me!  I have showered around men and they just don’t do anything for me.

Recently, I wrote a column in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier (http://wcfcourier.com/news/opinion/columnists/in-a-republic-the-majority-doesn-t-rule/article_2cce4f4f-548b-58b6-a916-94c78cc42f86.html) where I mentioned my disgust for the proposed legislation in Arizona to allow businesses to discriminate against gay people if their religious principles so dictated.  I have written many times, here and in the paper, about gay rights, the unconstitutional movements to restrict gay marriage, and in this particular Courier column concerning the definition of a Republic, I wrote of the duty of our representative democracy to defend their rights.

I wasn’t surprised that there would be discord from some people regarding my words, but one particular Letter to the Editor stood out:

“Gary Kroeger’s comments in Sunday’s Courier are typical of the left-wing portion of society.  So, let us ponder the following questions:  Are all women born women?  Are all blacks born black?  If you have a sex change operation, does it change your DNA? The answer is NO!  None of us had a choice as to where, when, sex, physical attributes or race when we were born.  But moral values are something we decide every day!  Being gay/lesbian is a matter of choice…..Is being forced to do business with people that want to be gays/lesbians a moral question or not?” -Dennis Buseman

(For the sake of venting, I’m going to address Mr. Buseman in the first person)

I’m not going to pull any punches here, Dennis.  I don’t have a full thimble of respect for your reasoning.  In fact, it is classic ill-logic.

Just as I didn’t choose my sexual orientation, how is it that gay people get to choose?Never mind asking why anyone would choose an orientation that leads to persecution or a life that many people want to deny basic human and civil rights to, like loving, monogamous matrimony.  Ask this:  Why are gay people wired to make choices about what attracts them physically (and emotionally) and we are not?

Maybe….they didn’t make a choice either, and they are as they were intended to be.

Dennis, I know that you believe that your religious freedom gives you the right to make moral judgments about people who are different from you or who don’t believe as you do, but Dennis, this is where you have really lost your way.  And it isn’t just you, there are millions of people just like you, trying desperately to force their will on everyone else.  But the “free exercise of religion” granted in the First Amendment does not imply that you have the right to deny others their rights.

People like you, Dennis, always seem to miss the Founding Father’s prefatory clauses and just before “free exercise” they wrote that the Constitution “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion.”  That means that even Christianity, the predominant religion in America then, and now, cannot determine our laws according to adherence to its doctrine.

That’s what freedom really means.

Or deep down inside, Dennis….is there a “bad” boy that wants to be heard?

We’re here for you over on the “left-wing portion” when you’re ready to come clean.