Sunday, March 4, 2012

Why Politics Sucks ... Politicians Only Pretend to Work for We the People

Pogo said that "We have met the enemy and he is us." I'd say he got it almost right.

My view is slightly different--"We have met the enemy and he is those we elect to serve us." Because they don't try to represent all of us. They just pretend.

Democrats and Republicans only pretend to represent all of us--We the People. They instead cater to some of us, depending on what office they hold, where we live and who we're likely to support politically.

Don't believe me? Think I'm too cynical? If so, please consider the following political example of the gift that keeps on giving--the post office and its ongoing financial debacle.

Postal Cuts Are Dead Letter in Congress lays out the real story behind the motivations of our elected officials and how they view taxpayers. Simply stated, the self proclaimed "public servants" cater only to those who may vote for them:

"Congress says it is trying to find ways to get the U.S. Postal Service out of the red. But some lawmakers have also become an obstacle in this cost-cutting effort as they resist the agency's plan to close post offices and mail-sorting hubs.

Elected officials from West Virginia to New York to Missouri publicly say they will fight the shutdown of a mail plant in their districts after the agency last week named 223 it intends to close.

"I'm going to do everything I can to block their efforts," said Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D., N.Y.), pledging a battle to keep a Newburgh, N.Y., plant open.

In a flurry of public statements, other lawmakers urged the agency to "halt" or "go back to the drawing board."

"Needless to say we heard from most people that have some closures in their districts," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in an interview. "The general sentiment was that we understand you're having issues, but is there anything that can be done that would spare a facility in a certain congressional district." . . .

The (postal) agency doesn't need Congress's approval to close the plants and post offices, but lawmakers "draw on a number of tactical tools" to delay or dissuade the postal service, including public protests . . . .

The Postal Service does need congressional approval to enact more sweeping changes, including the postmaster's proposals to drop Saturday delivery, raise the cost of mailing a letter to 50 cents in the next five years, and ease a requirement to pre-fund future retiree health benefits.

The agency is experiencing historic losses—more than $5 billion in its most recent fiscal year—that it attributes to burdensome retiree health costs and a shift in communication habits in the digital age. First-class mail volume has fallen 25% since 2006, and the agency predicts annual losses exceeding $18 billion by 2015 without drastic changes, including closing an "enormous amount of excess capacity." . . .

Congress is now weighing multiple bills aimed at remaking the postal service and putting it on firmer financial footing. The bills would take steps such as easing the pre-funding mandate for retiree health benefits and allowing the postal service to branch into nonpostal ventures, like issuing hunting licenses...."

Politicians Only Pretend to Serve All of We the People

The Postal Service needs congressional approval to stop Saturday mail deliveries and raise the cost of a stamp to 50 cents. So Congress approves all aspects of running the Postal Service while neglecting its financial results. The taxpayers don't count.

Meanwhile, postal operations are losing $5 billion annually and the Service owes another ~$5 billion to properly fund its retiree health obligations. On top of that, current projections indicate postal operations will lose ~$18 annually within a few short years.

What's Congress say about all this? Not much. But if their actions mean anything, they're saying the following: "What's the hurry? Our Postal Service losses are nothing compared to the trillion dollar annual deficits we're running elsewhere. And they're less than nothing compared to the ~$100 trillion in unfunded liabilities we've created for taxpayers with respect to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security promises. In other words, it's only OPM, aka taxpayer money. And compared to the 'big picture,' it's peanuts."

But billions of dollars in annual Postal Service losses aren't peanuts, at least to taxpayers.

How can this happen? Well, here's how. Pogo's at it again.

Individual members of Congress represent either a district within a state (House) or the state as a whole (Senate). Only the President pretends to represent all the people. In fact, of course, the President actually represents the political party to which he belongs.

When it comes to public service, We the People are placed in one of two basic categories by the elected "public servants;" (1) those "to be assisted or saved" or (2) those "to be ignored or taxed."

House members want to assist or save, and not tax, the constituents in the specific districts they represent, especially those who belong to the same political party. Likewise, Senators wish to assist or save, and not tax, the people who live in the individual state they represent and belong to their political party. And we know who the President wants to please --those who vote for him.

Hence, our elected officials believe it's acceptable for taxpayers to lose $10 billion or even $20 billion annually on postal operations as long as most of the congressman's allied voting constituents aren't directly impacted in a negative way.

That's the simple message of the postal service debate. It's not about making the operation self supporting. That can't be done. If for no other reason, e-mail and Fedex have made the Postal Service a long term financial loser. And the existing billions of dollars in underfunded retiree health care obligations only add to the financial catastrophe.

So the politicians want to delay the inevitable. They suggest that the Postal Service sell hunting licenses and pretend that there are no underfunded retiree health care obligations.

The political answer is simple; just send the bill to the taxpayers. Or better yet, just borrow the money from the Chinese and don't upset the taxpayers while we're still in office. Just send the bill to the future generations of taxpayers. They're not even voting yet.

Summing Up

Nobody in American politics is seriously advocating that we live within our means. They're afraid of what would happen to their political careers. So they in effect lie. And we let them get away with lying. I wonder why.

Telling the truth would mean deciding to eliminate the Postal Service asap or sooner.

For government as a whole, telling the truth would mean deciding to enact either an immediate and substantial broad based tax increase (which would be the wrong approach), or a severe and broad based spending reduction by government (the right way), or both.

As the postal debate reveals, our politicians won't even tackle the relatively small stuff in the billions, let alone the really big stuff in the trillions.

Obviously, our system of limited and representative government is broken. The pretend game of politics is just that -- a game of pretend.

And one more thing. It's idiotic that we allow public sector government unions to negotiate for and represent public sector workers in order to protect them against--We the People.

I say throw all the bums out, and get a fresh bunch of bums to replace them.

Then let's resolve to keep the new bums on a real tight leash and retain more of MOM for ourselves. Our "public servants" can't spend what we don't send or allow them to borrow.

Government definitely doesn't know best.

And pretend political leaders don't know squat, except how to play silly and very expensive games with the people's money. Both the current and future generations of taxpayers as well. That's the really sad part.

Sad but true.

Thanks. Bob.

No comments:

Post a Comment