04 March 2010

The debate is over?

The statement "the debate is over" seems to be gaining popularity with the political elite in this country. It started with Al Gore and the global warming issue (notice it's now "global climate change") and now the president is playing the same card with health care. This is akin to a child having a tantrum, sticking their fingers in their ears, and going "la la la". It is not only childish, it fosters an environment of divisiveness and context dropping when attempting to have an honest debate. In this environment, anyone who disagrees with your position automatically becomes a naysayer, denier, or better yet, if you are a member of a recognized minority class, you get to play the racism card. It is simply not conducive to constructive debate. The definition of debate is "formal, oral confrontation between two individuals, teams, or groups who present arguments to support opposing sides of a question, generally according to a set form or procedure". That does not describe what we have seen to date on either of the aforementioned subjects since the opposing viewpoint is derided as opposed to being encouraged.
Let's start with the global warming crowd and their claim that the debate is over. First and foremost, scientific debate is never over. New data leads to new models which lead to new discoveries. Anyone who makes the claim that there is nothing left to debate is admitting that they have chosen to stop thinking, to stop integrating new data into the model, and to start acting based on emotion. Scientists, engineers, and anyone else who values the ability of the human mind should take offense at that statement, whether they agree with the stated conclusion or not, as it is an open statement declaring that you should quit thinking. It is akin to the Wizard of Oz; "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain".
More disturbing is the president's claim yesterday that the debate on health care is over when there was never an actual debate. The supposed debate was really a volley of out of context sound bites with no serious discussion of details or, more importantly, pretexts. The bill that the President, Speaker of the House, and Senate Majority leader are pushing has a price tag of $1 Trillion dollars. Let's put that in perspective a little, that is the combined net worth of the 373 richest people in America today (source: Fortune 400), or to make it more personal, $3278 per person in the USA. When you take that same number and apply it to number of households, which is the easiest way to account for children, it works out to $7182 per tax return. Doesn't really sound like much unless you are willing to have an extra $138 come out of your paycheck every week. How can you claim that you can spend $1 trillion of the taxpayer's money (that's right, it's ours, not yours) based on what I like to call "the sound bite tango" without a lengthy, open, and honest debate?
Bottom line is that politicians in this country gave up debating major legislation over 40 years ago with the last 20 years going downhill at an ever increasing pace. We have achieved the fears of The Founding Fathers where the political class is dictating legislation and appointing unelected officials with the power to make laws. This is a travesty and an insult to the electorate. The only way to save this country now is for all of the people who still believe that this is the greatest country on the planet because it was founded on the rights and responsibilities of the individual to get candidates who; understand The Constitution as written, and believe that it is their job to represent their constituents, through the primary elections. This is where the biggest hurdle for the true fiscally responsible politicians lies. The DNC and RNC both want to maintain the status quo where they get to dictate to the American people and line their pockets with lobbyist cash while they hand out favors. They do not want people of conviction in their congress, but it is time to remind them that it is our congress, not theirs.

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