The Blame Game: A Recent Letter to the Editor

It’s all a blame game.

In a recent letter to the editor, yet another writer wants to make the point that the current economic problem is President Bush’s fault. He uses all of his 200 words to carefully craft a picture of why it was Bush’s fault.

Yesterday, I saw the same thing as to why it was President Obama’s fault. Again, all two hundred words were carefully selected to make this seemingly significant point.
Having written a few letters to the editor, I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is not usually a five-minute thing. Two hundred words is a very narrow field to present a counterpoint to some point you are debating. Usually, it takes almost half of the space to frame the issue in the first place.

These two writers are not alone. I see tens, if not hundreds, of these dialogs each day. Each side is spending an inordinate amount of time to present why this person or this party was wrong, wrong, wrong…

Clearly, the sheer volume of people and the amount of time, bandwidth, and ink devoted to this subject would indicate it is of the most extreme importance. Well, it’s not!

The big issue at the moment is solving the problem. And solving this in a pragmatic way – not a partisan way. Unfortunately, it is not just the new mayor of Chicago who thinks no crisis should go to waste. It seems to be the philosophy of many of us, if not most of us.

Not about solutions; it’s about political exploitation

Each issue appears not to be an issue we need to solve – more it seems they are issues we should exploit for some other benefit. This has been the pattern since the early 1960s. The Great Society was not just to find solutions to help the poor; it was as stated by Lyndon Johnson on a phone call with Wilber Mills and Carl Albert,

“something that we (democrats) can run on for the rest of the century.” (listen to the President Johnson Tapes online, search on medicare)

And we can’t leave republicans out of this either. They have played the same games over the years.

Since everyone seems to think we need to assign blame before solving the problem, let’s do this. Let’s agree to start at the beginning of the root causes…

  • It is Franklin Roosevelt’s fault for describing Social Security in 1935 without recognizing that the transition to a private annuity system as he described would be lost to the winds of entitlement fever.
  • Truman’s fault for extending the coverage and not addressing the legislators’ concerns at the time argued about future insolvency.
  • It is Eisenhower’s fault for also increasing benefits and coverage while again not addressing the growing concerns over solvency.
  • It is Kennedy’s fault for again extending the coverage and entitlements and getting assassinated before he could begin to affect some of the changes he saw needed to be done.
  • It is Johnson’s fault for extending the original act to include Medicare and Medicaid, ignoring the advice of the experts in congress, including Wilbur Mills, who repeatedly warned this scheme would not work and then codifying the grants and gifts to the poor as the method to ensure democratic election and instituting the class warfare approach that is now the norm.
  • It is Nixon’s fault for removing the country from the gold standard instead of extending the standard to all precious metals.
  • It is Carter, Regan, Bush, and Clinton that further reduced the restrictions on the banks, changed the regulations like the Mark to Market Rule, and eliminated the Glass Steagall Act that multiplied the fiscal problem and continued the course of expanding entitlements.
  • And it was both Bush and Obama that again compounded the problem by consenting to the short-term solutions and compounding debt-based fixes.
  • Further, it is all the congresses, bankers, and federal reserve leaders that are also at fault for not addressing the issues, using them to fulfill other agendas, and promulgating their self-interests ahead of strategic solutions.
  • And finally, it is us for not paying attention and reveling in the constant and unrealistic expansion of our wages, home values, benefits, and desire for more without looking for or listening to concerned opinions.

Did all of these actors in this damnable play behave badly for their own self-interest? Not really. Were there certain hooks included at each phase to get our consent in their best interest? Of course! In every case, there were justifications for why, and many times good arguments on why in the short-term this solution, or that solution, made sense. The problem was that they also knew there would be a problem in the long-term and did or could do nothing at the time to fix it. Of course, once the issue was temporarily solved – no one else chose to address it, so it was pushed to the future to deal with it. And now it is ours. And it is, in fact, ours. It is not our children’s as we like to think. We have run out of time and circumstance. That is why the symptoms of the disease are again raising their ugly heads with a vengeance.

It’s also about toleration.

Now that we have discussed blame let us all tolerate the blame assigned to our favorite figures as we relish the blame in those we don’t like. If we agree the blame is inclusive and historically almost all-encompassing, then perhaps we can stop the blame debate, at least for some of us, and focus on solving the current dilemma.

This problem is a collective problem. One – many years, many parties and many administrations in the making. It is at our doorstep and will either define the next stage of our prosperity as a nation or our inevitable decline. We must all stop trying to focus on who it was that is at fault and how we can use it to foist our “pure” ideology on the other side. We must find a good pragmatic solution.

As Ben Franklin said, ” it is thus compromise, based on tolerance of others opinions that leads us to the best solution!”

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Tom Loker
Tom Loker

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