Given all the hype about this year’s midterm elections, you’d think that the results are actually going to make a difference in the lives of Americans. Oh, we’ve all heard the hyperbole. Both sides are talking about how this is an election for “the soul of America”. Democrats are warning Americans that we can’t go back to the failed policies of the Bush Administration by electing Republicans to Congress. Republicans, bolstered by the Tea Partiers, are screaming bloody murder about the president’s socialist policies and his reckless spending. It seems like both sides have wasted a huge amount of time and money with these worthless arguments when they should have been talking details about some issues that will really affect Americans.
For starters, let’s talk about the War on Drugs? Since its inception, government at all levels has spent an enormous amount of money on drug eradication, policing, prosecutions, and imprisonment. Within the last year we passed the milestone of having one in every one-hundred Americans behind bars. Many are incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses. But, besides the cost of this failed war it has also caused a huge problem on our southern border – incredible violence. Actually there is a civil war going on in Mexico that is spilling over into Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It’s all fueled by the enormous profits reaped from illegal drugs. The “rebels” in Mexico have turned huge profits into murderous rampages of police, judges, and mayors in Mexico and Americans in Arizona and Texas. With all the carnage caused by the War on Drugs there has been hardly any debate amongst the candidates about what should be done. I am hard pressed to come up with a candidate who has called for an end to the madness by decriminalizing drugs and treating the situation like the pubic heath problem that it is. It is a disgrace that an issue so important to the safety of Americans, our border integrity and fiscal sanity has been totally ignored.
As much as Tea Partiers like to denounce federal spending they have not made eliminating wasteful federal departments a part of their platform. Take the Department of Energy for instance. Its goal when it was founded in the late 1970s was to reduce American dependence on foreign oil. It has failed miserably in that endeavor. In the early 1970s, America imported 24 percent of Her oil. Today She imports over 65 percent of Her oil. With a $23 billion annual budget, should we continue to subsidize this failure? Unfortunately, no candidates addressed this question during the campaign.
Naturally, politicians want to win elections, so any discussion about making hard choices with regard to Social Security and Medicare was off the table during the campaign. Unfortunately, with millions of baby boomers hitting retirement these two “entitlement” programs more than anything else will break the federal budget. The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) in 2008 announced that unfunded obligations for Medicare and Social Security totaled almost $41 trillion. Yet, very little discussion was had during the campaign about raising the retirement age or privatizing the system. How can an issue with such huge implications for the future of the country get so little attention?
Last, but certainly not least, little attention has been given in this campaign to the institution most responsible for the financial crisis, the institution which controls the supply of our currency yet operates in absolute secrecy, and the institution which has and is about to again give billions of dollars in backdoor bailout funds to shyster banks. I am of course referring to the Federal Reserve Bank. Ben Bernanke and his Federal Open Market Committee are arguably the most powerful economic policymakers in the world and as recently as a couple of weeks ago Fed policymakers were expressing their belief that inflation was “too low”. In other words, the prices you pay for goods and services are not high enough to spur economic recovery. Now, this rhetoric would be tolerable if it was simply professorial theorizing, but these same policymakers actually have the power to print more dollars and make prices go up even further. What’s so amazing is that Tea Party candidates have made reckless government spending their mantra issue, yet almost none have lambasted the Fed for its role in monetizing the debt.
Chances are good that the midterm elections of 2010 will result in a political shift of power in the Congress. So, what? Even in their “Pledge to America” published in September the Republicans committed to cut spending by only $100 billion. This is loose change compared to the enormous debt we are facing down the road. Since they love war there is no chance they will end the violence caused by the War on Drugs. Because they lack courage, Social Security and Medicare will doom us to financial ruin. And the Federal Reserve will remain safe under Republican rule in Congress since it is the mechanism which makes all the reckless spending possible. After Republicans screw up the next two years, maybe then Americans will be ready to vote for third parties. Hopefully, it won’t be too late.