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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

A Coming Together of Trajectories...

U.S., Quality of Life, Political, People Making A Difference

It is an interesting coming together of the trajectories of two very famous and very influential black men today, the day we inaugurate President Barack Obama for his second term in office and the day we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King.

Rev. King worked diligently to make possible the very thing that is occurring today.  It seems very appropriate that the calendar worked out so that the public inauguration of the second term of our first black President would occur on the day selected to honor Rev. King, a towering figure for blacks and, I hope, for the vast majority of whites.

The country has come a long way since the day that Rev. King was killed.  I can remember in some detail that day as the television channels came alive with the news, and I remember that I felt moved even though I was a young white guy from a small town in Wisconsin.  I knew that we had lost a good man even though I didn’t have an apparent direct vested interest in what he espoused.   

This is a truly great country.  I find myself agreeing with most of the sentiments expressed in the President’s Inauguration speech this morning even while I suspect that the implementation of those sentiments will not be entirely agreeable from my perspective.  That is a part of what makes our country as great as it is, and I hope we never find that we have lost that ability to have differing opinions about how best to get from here to there.

Today many of us have these feelings that rise above the fray; and, tomorrow or the next day or the next week our elected representatives go back to work to find solutions to the nitty gritty issues of the day.  They have to work out the way in which we ultimately avoid bankruptcy as a country even as we heard more promises made that will require money…everything about Washington requires money and that money comes from us whether it is borrowed from others or taken from us as taxes.

Wouldn’t it be good if everyone could remember the lofty ideals voiced today even as they debated the requirements of implementing those lofty things.  However, we will, almost certainly, slip back into the way that politics is done in our country today.  The deal-making and the promised pay-offs, in one form or another, will continue.  We, the people (a very popular phrase in President Obama’s second acceptance speech) will again take second place as the politicians decide what takes first place, and as the President decides what he’ll settle for or not settle for.  It is in this area that I expect to have disagreements with what seemed to be great sentiments in today’s speech.

Roughly half of us think that people ought to be given what they need if they are unable to afford it for themselves.  The other ‘roughly half’ would prefer to provide for those who do not have what they need by helping them to be able to earn what they need to be able to provide for their needs themselves.  That doesn’t fly too well with some politicians, nor does it fly too well with some of those whom we have made dependent upon us.

The rhetoric is wonderful for a day like today, but it is not sustainable at the pace we are going.  Our politicians seem compelled to continue to write checks that “we, the people” cannot cash.  This is a very real problem that is not solved with rhetoric no matter how high-minded that rhetoric seems.

We need for Washington to become more aware of the realities that exist outside the fabled “beltway”, but that doesn’t seem to be on the agenda.  If it is, it must be a very distant second to the need to continue to increase spending.    

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