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It’s the Fifth of July … Are We Independent Yet?

ALPERN AT LARGE - Whether it’s independence from work, independence from the same old routine, or independence to just enjoy some rest and relaxation, it’s hoped that we all had some sort of independence last Fourth of July weekend.

But independence from fear and worry and debt is a struggle that seems never ending, particularly so in an economic downturn that seems equally never ending, and also particularly so amidst a media blitz that seems…well…never ending.

So where do YOU stand in the middle of all this?  Do you decry the liberal media and those spending us into oblivion?  Or do you decry the conservative Fox News types and those refusing to recognize that increased taxes on those who most afford it was and still is an unavoidable reality to balance our budget?

Or do we find that middle ground…the one that says that EVERYONE needs to sacrifice in some way, shape or form in order to fix our economic woes, and allow EVERYONE to have some skin in the game and demand that our local, state and federal governments answer to them?

And that the taxes we pay are spent well, and spent right?  Or that the taxes not be raised for anyone if they’re inevitably going to be spent poorly?

So which is it?  Is the LA Times right when it blared its screaming headline on June 30th that Obama schooled the Republicans by putting them in the corner of jet-set corporate elites? (Link)  Or is the LA Times right when it blared its screaming headline on July 2nd that the deficit battle was shaping up to be a GOP victory? (Link)

Speaking only for myself, all I could really know is that the front-page photo on June 30th of the brave soldiers who’d just ended a siege of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul by some civilian-slaughtering Taliban monsters was the most clarifying image I could really discern to find out who the true heroes in our world are…but I’m guessing that the answer to our debt crisis lies somewhere between what the GOP wants and what President Obama wants.

After all, it’s clear we’ve got to spend less, but it’s also clear that somehow we’ve got to find ways to reasonably increase revenues.  Yet when we talk about raising taxes on millionaires we can’t throw all those who earn six-digit figures into that category…and do we really want these millionaires to stop hiring in response to being taxed more?

And by placing so much of the tax burden on the wealthy do we really want to be forced into catering most to their needs because we rely on them so much as well?

Similarly, our state GOP has supposedly lost an opportunity to reform state government expenses such as pension reform and spending reform…but why then has a Democratic Governor and Legislature unilaterally passed a budget with a GOP-initiated mandate of no new taxes? (Link)

In other words…who really DID win in Sacramento, especially because the political and economic battles are far from over?

Nationally and locally, are we sucking up to the oil/gas giants, or are we sucking up to the green/environmental giants, or both, with our current tax policies and political strife?

Nationally and locally, are we in the business of creating jobs, or demanding fair wages and benefits for American workers, or both, with our current tax policies and political strife?

Nationally and locally, are we doing the right thing by raising taxes on Internet sales, or the wrong thing by alienating entities like Amazon.com, or both, with our current tax policies and political strife?

And if President George W. Bush has proven to be the “Great Divider” to our nation, and who has spent our way into oblivion while not raising taxes for the first time in history when waging foreign wars and increasing Medicare benefits…then has President Barack H. Obama been any more unifying and cost-effective as a leader to our nation?

So maybe we need the liberal press AND conservative talk radio more than ever, although it’s probably best to either force oneself to listen to both or to ignore both altogether to be truly informed.

All across the nation, the battle seems to be on between GOP meanies and Democratic spendthrifts…which on first glance appears to be a dangerously divisive Blue/Red battle almost akin to the Civil War of the 1860’s.  Perhaps, however, this battle is also a healthy if not downright painful debate that’s been decades in the making.

And with the leading political affiliation by young and old alike continuing be “decline to state”, and with both major parties finally recognizing how much they infuriated their respective constituencies, maybe it really has been a true Independence Day for our nation, after all.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently cochairs 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 [email protected]    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)   -cw

Tags: independence, taxes, economic downturn, debt, President Obama, LA Times, GOP, Alpern

Vol 9 Issue 53
Pub: July 5, 2011