Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Believed It Once

I am generally disinterested in politics. I don't know the difference between the left and the right, conservative and liberal, or many of the labels politicos must use to describe the world of politics in a succinct manner. I skim the sidelines, picking up bits here and there, but overall I feel it is a system I cannot influence so I usually find myself voting (oh, yes, I vote) for what appears to be the lesser of two evils.

When Obama came on the scene he talked a good game. I, and many others, wanted to believe he was the one who could bring about the change we so desperately wanted. From my view, his administration has been one of contradictions.The biggest one I can think of is healthcare reform. His plan was to develop a comprehensive healthcare system in full view of the public. Transparency of the process was one of the ways he sold it to the American people.

How did Obamacare finally get tied up into a neat little package? Behind closed doors. And when it emerged it was a tome of unimaginable proportions that the largest portion of the population of which it would effect had no hope of ever understanding it.

I did not watch the State of the Union address Tuesday night. I don't have an attention span long enough to sit through all of the dramatic pauses and drawn-out applause and still come away understanding more than the first five minutes. I did, however, read the transcript. The rhetoric seems familiar. It all sounds good and wholesome and sensible... well, most of it anyway... but also untenable in our current political climate.

I have culled a few excerpts from the speech that I would like to comment on:

"Think about the America within our reach:... An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded."
- I don't know how many companies I have worked for that have spouted this type of sunshine in their value statements but greed has a tendency to win out in the end. I would like to see that happen and it may still. It is at least a good goal to shoot for.

"We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules."
- It's that last part that really gets me. The same set of rules for everyone. All men are created equal. Unless you work for congress where you get guaranteed retirement benefits, incredible, cheap healthcare, and can vote a raise for yourself. I guess some are more equal than others. Many people have made this point and have called for an end to it but it's the golden rule. Those that have the gold make the rules. As long as they make the rules why on earth would they make a rule that lessens their standard of living?

"It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work."
- Right there with you, Mr. President. I hope you have an idea how to accomplish this because I don't.

"Higher education can’t be a luxury -- it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."
- Amen! Unfortunately, in my lifetime, I have only seen it become harder and harder for people to afford education. If you're dirt poor you have a shot at a grant. If you're a 4.0 student, an even better shot. If you can play a sport universities fight over you. But if you're an decent student from a household with average income, your only option is to go into debt and with that debt comes no guarantees.

"...I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low rates.  (Applause.)  No more red tape.  No more runaround from the banks.  A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit and will give those banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust."
- I hope this works better than your last plan. 

When I bought my house I could easily afford it. I did not get sucked (suckered?) into an ARM. Due to an illness, we suddenly became a single-income residence and have been for the past five years but the payments we were given when we signed the papers were still manageable with some sacrifices. Then, my mortgage company underestimated our insurance payments and decided to increase our payment. 

They increased our payment not by the $100 or so dollars a month that would have covered the shortfall, that we paid for ourselves by the way, but by nearly $300 per month. We scraped by and the payment settled down the next year. We just got notice that they did it again and this year my mortgage payment is nearly $500 more per month than it was when I bought the house.

During all of this we applied THREE TIMES for the relief program. Three times we were denied. Do you want to know what else we got in the envelope with the notice that our payment was increasing? We got an application for the relief program.

Where is my bailout, Mr. President?

"...we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes."
- That's a start but please feel free to refer to my earlier comments about everyone playing by the same rules.

"I’ve talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street.  But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad -- and it seems to get worse every year."
- Yeah, that's the point I'm trying to get at. Stop working for yourselves and start working for US - the people you represent.

"Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I will sign it tomorrow."
EXCUSE ME!!?? Since when are members of congress allowed to engage in insider trading? You bet your ASS I want to see that law come about.


Overall it was a good speech that said, "Yes, we're upside down on a lot of things but we're going to fix it." I've heard it before. I've heard the call for change. I believed in the possibility of change. But really, at my level, I haven't seen a lot of change happening. I'll believe it when I see it... but even that will probably be screwed up after congress mutilates it.

1 comment:

Red Leigh Cooper said...

Great blog! I can't sit through a whole SOTU either, so I loved this! You mentioned "his administration has been one of contradictions" and I think I found some of those just by reading your blog! Anyways, I'm with you on your unemployment system answer and it sums everything up for me: " Right there with you, Mr. President. I hope you have an idea how to accomplish this because I don't."