Everyone agrees Washington is a mess. In a poll released last week, two-thirds of Americans were angry at the way Washington works, and there's plenty of blame to go around. Washington is blamed for partisanship, dysfunction, paralysis, problems are never honestly addressed, we kick the can down the road, et cetera, et cetera. You've heard it all.This is what I have been saying all along, whenever people cast stones at the government. Sure, the government is (and always has been, and always will be) packed with lying, thieving, self-righteous, hypocritical idiots. But this is exactly the government we want, and therefore the government we deserve—truly, a government of the people.
But, in one sense, Washington is delivering to the American people exactly what they seem to want. In poll after poll, we find that the public is generally opposed to any new taxes, but we also discover that the public will immediately punish anyone who proposes spending cuts in any middle class program which are the ones where the money is in the federal budget.
Now, there is only one way to square this circle short of magic, and that is to borrow money, and that is what we have done for decades now at the local, state and federal level. At the root of this problem, writes Jacob Weisberg, the editor of "Slate" magazine, is our national ambivalence towards government. We dislike government in the abstract, but we love government in the particular.
Strong majorities don't want any more stimulus spending, but 80 percent of the public wants unemployment benefits extended, and more money put into roads and bridges. Another term for that, as Weisberg notes, is stimulus spending.
The lesson of the polls in the recent elections is that politicians will succeed if they pander to this public schizophrenia. So, the next time you accuse Washington of being irresponsible, save some of that blame for yourself and your friends. (From the transcript.)
Friday, February 26, 2010
Maybe we need a nationwide prescription for Seroquel
I'm taking a break to watch Fareed Zakaria's GPS (you can subscribe via iTunes), and, as usual, he hits the nail on the head: