I listened to the debate between Obama and McCain last night just enough to get thoroughly disgusted. It didn't take long.
First there was the issue of taxes. I was disappointed to hear Obama say that he disliked them. It sounds like he's bought into the Republican meme that "taxes are bad, and everyone hates them." I've blogged on this before. It's true that the federal government misspends a huge amount of taxes (the military budget), but taxes themselves are good things, they're really cool, and every year I enjoy writing out the check to the state (though not the feds – see above). This distaste for taxes, born in the myths of the Boston Tea Party and Republican wet dreams of drowning government in the bathtub, is what got us $10 trillion in debt.
So both candidates are going to cut taxes left and right (though at least Obama would raise them on the wealthiest Americans). And balance the budget. Uh, huh. This Republican fantasy has been around for 30 years now, and it's time to get over it. Try it in your personal finances. It doesn't work. If we want to either "fix the problems" this country has, or create the country we want, it's time to raise taxes and cut spending, and the place to start cutting is the military budget – half of the entire world's. I believe in a strong military. So let's cut the military budget by $300 billion, so that we'll have the biggest, most expensive, best trained military in the world. We can start by withdrawing garrisons from dozens of countries around the world, and eliminating Star Wars.
Second, both candidates are fixated on "solving our problems." I bought into this mindset recently, so I can't criticize too much here, but it's recently become clear to me, through watching people like Kristin create her life, and now reading The Path of Least Resistance, by Robert Fritz, that that mindset will not get us where we need to go. We need to switch that mindset to one in which we ask ourselves, what kind of country would we like – and then set out to create it.
Think about that for a second. How would it be if, instead of saying, "Omigod! Look at this horrible economic meltdown! We've gotta rush around madly and fix it right now!" we said, "Okay, what kind of country do we want to create? Let's figure that out, then we'll look at our current economic meltdown situation, and figure out how to create it from here."
Which mindset do you suppose is going to get a better end result? And have more fun getting there?
As Douglas MacArthur once said, "There is no security on this earth. There is only opportunity."
Of course, even with my disappointment with Obama, my support for him remains unchanged. He's obviously less delusional about taxes than his opponent, he's definitely more creative, and he'll select Supreme Court justices far superior to those McCain would choose. If anything happens to him, his vice president is at least competent. And I would SO much prefer that Obama get that 3 a.m. call on the red telephone!
(As an aside, this quote from MSNBC's debate coverage really floored me: "The financial crisis — an unforeseen and unimaginable event, ..." Anybody who's spent any time studying history - especially the economic policies of Coolidge & Hoover - should have been expecting it. Likewise anyone who's studied economics (at least, who's been reading Krugman instead of Friedman). Lots of us were. A guy named Kunstler wrote a book more or less predicting it a number of years ago, called The Long Emergency. Well, perhaps the writer was stuck in a Fox News information vacuum....)