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LOS ANGELES Wednesday, November 25th 2015 6:15

Indignant Over Incumbents

ALPERN AT LARGE - At home and abroad, a change in leadership continues to be the trend.  Pro-economic austerity French President Nicolas Sarkozy is replaced by Socialist Francois Hollande.  Longstanding GOP Senator Richard Lugar is replaced by the more conservative Richard Mourdock.  And so therefore every expert now “knows” whether austerity or growth, conservatism or socialism, is the answer to our problems.
Heat abounds while light remains elusive, and questions by far abound more than the answers.

Funny how Socialist President-elect Hollande, who ran on a political platform opposing fiscal austerity, is racing to reassure the world’s markets and banks while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is steadfastly adhering to her principals of austerity and structural reforms.

Meanwhile, center-of-the-storm Greece is having its own misery forming a government and facing austerity that was in part brokered by its own outgoing incumbent, who in this instance was the Socialist, George Papandreou.  The country’s economy has been thrashed by its externally-imposed austerity measures, all the while begging the question why its structural problems have remained unresolved for so long.

And all the while begging also the question why OUR OWN structural problems in the United States have remained unresolved for so long.  And perhaps begging yet another question of why our own growth-related efforts (such as the 2009 stimulus program) haven’t been more effective during an era when the need to balance growth and austerity is so important—as former President Clinton, no economic neophyte, recently pointed out.

So while liberal pundits will surely dismiss the primary election loss of Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) as a desperate primal scream of angry Tea Partiers, the question of whether an 80 year-old man without a residence in the state he purported to represent deserved reelection is a fair one.

But conservative pundits who questioned why outgoing Senator Lugar, who supported TARP and the stimulus bailout, deserved office again also must answer the question of how we encourage growth, or if it should be funded.

The anti-incumbent wave of political sentiment is worldwide, and threatens to make President Barack Obama a one-term president, but it does appear so easy to “throw the bums out” while so difficult to articulate what to actually do about it.

For example, the question of whether the foreign banks which helped loan and speculate away the economic future of Greece should bear more of the burden of their own foolishness is a fair one.  But would anyone invest in a country of people afraid or unwilling to pursue reforms to create a more sustainable economy?

These questions plague our own economy, here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  

Political and economic talking heads debate whether our own joblessness is getting worse, better or just staying the same with the unemployment rate going down either (depending on who one asks) because we’re creating more jobs or because people are just tired of looking for nonexistent work.

And, of course, the whole “unemployment rate” and “inflation rate” and other figures appears to be so politically-concocted and out of touch with reality that the ordinary Joe or Jane on Main Street has no idea of what trends are REALLY going on.  The only thing we appear to know is that we’re sick of our current leadership, and we’re sick of being told things are getting better while things clearly aren’t.

If things were going so great, why is there such a powerful Tea Party Movement, or an Occupy Wall Street Movement?

As with all of life’s problems, there usually IS an answer, although human nature might not allow us to pursue it because it’s often the most painful and therefore the most politically-toxic to pursue.  The TARP program and the Detroit bailout both stink of socialism, but while they can’t be held up as unquestionable successes it’s not fair to dismiss them as abject failures, either.

However, the issues of accountability from Wall Street, big business and big government have been, and certainly will continue to be, fair game for us all to contend with.  When any business gets government subsidies or bailouts, it’s no longer “private enterprise” and is therefore open to all sorts of scrutiny.

Furthermore, the argument can also be made that we’ve been so obsessed with what our government is going to do to rescue us that we’ve forgotten the need to keep government out of the economic equation, and let ordinary citizens take over their future and restore our economy—something our own state of California has a very difficult time doing. (Link)

So with these myriad questions unanswered, and with the seemingly contradictory paradigms of “throw the bums out!” and “what are you going to do for us?” similarly unresolved, perhaps three final questions should be thrown out to all the angry, frustrated voters of our state, nation and planet:

Question #1:  What are private citizens going to do in their own lives to throw out their own “incumbent” bad economic habits?

Question #2:  How much will private citizens rely on others (new or incumbent) to fix their problems?

Question #3:  Just how far will private citizens go, and what will they be willing to do, to fix their own personal fiscal dilemmas?

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)

Tags: Ken Alpern, Politics, Incumbents, Richard Lugar, economy, Occupy Movement, Tea Party

Vol 10 Issue 38
Pub: May 11, 2012