Since, for a few months at least, we've solved the fiscal cliff situation, I'd like to comment on the sad state of our federal government.
I'll start with Robert C. Wadman's commentary of Dec. 23 (The unelected new leaders in America: The death of democracy). I believe this pertains to our current circumstances even though I respectfully disagree with Wadman's position.
Wadman's gist was the unfair and undemocratic influence of the National Rifle Association and that of Grover Norquist. Both dealt with intimidation, lobbying power with the first, a no new tax pledge for candidates running for office with the second.
My disagreement is based on the word "democracy." Just because we have an elected democratic republic does not relieve or abdicate any citizen's civic responsibility to be actively involved in all aspects of our political process.
Those elected officials that won't change their position based on what the NRA or Norquist might do are within their right to hold fast to their political positions or stands. There is no requirement that binds a person to positions held before being elected to an office that forces the person to maintain or remain honest, forthright,upstanding,or maintain any degree of integrity or high character while in office.
Not to beat up on Mr Romney anymore, but his 47 percent comment should remain the classic example of losing his race based on unintended consequences. He spoke of those that wanted the government handouts, entitlements, no taxes on their limited or 'fixed' incomes, etc.
The irony of this 47 percent is that the other 53 percent (also unelected) wanted even more, and received it, from the federal government. No one brought the fact of these corporations, banks, conglomerates, industries, Wall Street, special interests, the NRA, PACs, and all sorts of lobbying groups were making campaign contributions and meeting with every Congressperson in trying to get something done that would benefit their special area.
These groups spent billions and will continue, under the present system, to peddle their influence. Mr. Romney did these exact things in getting federal dollars for the 2002 Olympics. And the difference is...? Who's getting the better deal here, the 47 percent or the 53 percent?
The recent fiscal cliff agreement was reached under just these circumstances. Congress again did not disappoint me so my feelings of contempt, disgust, and disrespect are still intact.
Our congressional delegation (less Senator Hatch) voted against the law citing either that it threatened jobs at Hill (Bishop under the umbrella that it's a national security issue) or that the law did nothing to curb spending or deal with deficit reduction (Matheson, Chaffetz, and Lee).
None of them offered to reduce any federal dollars scheduled to come to Utah in regard to grants to cities, counties, roads, studies, or federal jobs to reduce our bloated federal bureaucracy. A recent commentary spoke of the new law including some $67.9 billion in subsidiaries and tax breaks to varying groups of asparagus growers, race tracks, taxes on rum, Segways, and Hollywood producers.
Yes, the country has a spending or expenses problem. How about starting with getting rid of all the expenses that were initiated or added onto the budget until its balanced, working our way back to the FY 2001 budget? It was balanced then to include paying on the debt. Eliminate all monies to the states and other than Social Security and Medicare (because workers directly pay into these accounts for their future benefits), see how much current revenues there are for only the direct operation of the government.
Now, back to Wadman. Our Constitution starts out with "We the People" There is nothing in the document that prohibits citizens from keeping an eye on government, and most I think, would agree that it's understood that it's our solemn duty and obligation to keep an eye on all officials, especially those elected.
Here in Utah, with the legislature soon to convene this month, if we had a law that unelected officials didn't have any influence, nothing would get accomplished without the role of the predominant religion giving their approval. Right now, the system allows elected officials to determine which "unelected leaders" get to influence them.
With only a few new members for the 113th Congress, I don't see much changing, and more unfortunately, getting done in this session.
At this point, its most discouraging that in trying to get our fiscal and political affairs in order, I'm getting more choices between elected officials, unelected leaders, and special interests and getting no better at finding answers, resolutions, and solutions. Help!
Thompson lives in Ogden.