The kid over at Tennessee Talking Points is pissed that the grown-ups aren’t doing more to smooth his/her way in the world. Yes, I did laugh briefly and say to myself “Welcome to what Generation X has been living with. Smoke some pot. Watch Clerks, and relax. Here’s your flannel shirt.”
But then, I thought, well, I owe it to a fellow liberal to point out the shortcomings in the strategy of being very angry at the government for not doing what is so super obvious to you. There’s only one point, but I’m about to make it repeatedly.
- “We don’t need all the old hardware—the outdated bombers, airplanes and weapons that politicians support just to keep jobs in their district.” Okay, then what will the people who work at those defense jobs do for employment?
- “To be sure, they need to pay their fair share, but so do the 46% of Americans who pay no federal income tax at all.” Okay, then, what jobs do you have for these people that would give them enough of an income to qualify for federal income tax?
- “We have to raise the age to account for longer life expectancy, we have to means test it for benefits and we have to raise the taxable income cap. ” Okay, what jobs will these old people do? And if they’re still doing the job you’d like to be promoted into someday, what will you do in the meantime?
Here’s a true fact. If Congress honestly knew how to fix our budget problems, they would. I don’t say this as some Pollyanna who believes in the general goodness of people. I do not. But I do believe that people are inherently self-interested and politicians moreso. And anyone, regardless of party, who could turn our budgetary issues around without completely stalling out our fragile economy would be set for years. All this talk about primarying. Bullshit. Not if they did it and it worked. If there were a way to do it, it would be done.
But no one wants to go back to their districts and say “I voted to cut spending to the only employer in our area.” No one wants to go back to their districts and say “Your young people are moving away because, since you’re never going to retire, there’s no room for them to advance here.” No one wants to say “We had to close our hospital because we can’t afford to serve everyone who can’t afford healthcare.” And not just because those are unpopular political positions, but because it fucking sucks to see your friends and neighbors rolled over by forces larger than them.
The crux of the matter is this: It is a long American tradition to not know what the fuck to do to solve our problems, to push off onto generations better able to see solutions the implementation of those solutions, to need the impetus of pissed off youngsters in order to reform. It is quintessentially American to hope that the people who come after us will have a clarity that we lack and see fixes we are blind to.
That, my friend, is your responsibility as an American. Not to sit around and complain that you are being handed a broken country–we all were–but to step up and take your turn making repairs the people after you can build on.
You’re not being cheated because we’re not handing you a perfectly functioning country. You’re being shown the truth.
Welcome. Now get to work.