Sunday, November 20, 2011
Bound to Fail
The congressional super committee, charged with agreeing on a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to achieve a balanced budget by Wednesday, November 30 is, according to reports that I have seen, no closer to reaching an agreement than it was two months ago. The failure of the committee to find a compromise is an indicator of the failure of our federal government to operate as a democracy. A history professor once told me that democracy can't work unless there is an agreement among all (or most) factions about fundamentals. Now an important fundamental is the kind of government that we should have. Should our government act to improve the economy by creating jobs, providing relief for the unemployed, acting to correct an endemic unbalance of trade, provide health care for all of us, provide decent retirement pensions, etc.? On the other hand, should the government not get involved with any of those things but instead stick to maintaining a stable currency, provide enough military prowess to intimidate any potential enemy, make sure that crimes against property are punished, etc.?
One faction in congress and on the super committee is pledged to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. The other faction is pledged to use government to improve life for its citizens. These two concepts can't be compromised. There is no agreement on fundamentals. Democracy can't work. The committee is bound to fail.