on accountability and responsibility

so reading this: 

David Ignatius, the other David, also has some thoughts about the Tea Party. Here is his headline: “Europe could use its own Tea Party.”

Yeah, they might be a little nervous about a nativist right-wing populist movement, out in Europe.

made me snicker, but pareene’s point about what we call “fiscal irresponsibility” is what struck me:

(What he means is that Tea Partiers would force Europe to be more “fiscally responsible.” As usual for a Washington Moderate [we used to just call them Republicans!], Ignatius hates “Fiscal Irresponsibility,” which always—always!—means “spending money on the social safety net.” Stupid Europe! Why can’t you just let your poor people starve, like we do! Investors would be so much more confident in you if you stopped letting the unemployed go to “doctors”!)

specifically, it reminded me of this other article i read a couple months back, about why SF’s money situation is so fucked. and you can extrapolate out from that to discuss why california and, ultimately, the u.s. is so fucked. our political discourse is so simplified and polarized that we end up discussing ideas like “fiscal responsibility” as though it purely means spending less, without ever discussing the more critical issue of what we do with the money we spend. all those fiscal conservatives bitching about tax money going to health care or social services take plenty of federal pork money; conversely, all the good intentions–and money–in the world won’t do a damn bit of good if you don’t make sure that the money is actually used for its intended purpose instead of just going into some black hole of waste and graft (ahem, SAN FRANCISCO, the military-industrial complex).

essentially, this isn’t a right-or-left thing. there’s tremendous amounts of waste and graft, inefficiency, hypocrisy, and profiteering on BOTH sides. it would be nice if we could stop playing the sound bite game and actually ask the hard questions about where our money goes and what it accomplishes, if anything.

1 comment
  1. fauxpopuli said:

    What I don’t get is how the tax cut / military spending conversations exist as completely distinct entities from the fiscal responsibility conversation.

    A: We need to balance the budget.

    B: Ok. I was thinking we might look at reducing our outlays on these space-age fighter j…

    A: No, no. Not military spending. The budget.

    B: Um… right. Well, it’s always possible that we could increase revenue via a slight tax inc..

    A: Are you even listening to me? I said we need to balance the budget.

    B: Uh, I… uhm… well it’s possible that we could reinstitute Pay-Go so that…

    A: God damnit man, are you daft? I’m not talking about cutting military spending, I’m not talking about tax increases and I’m not talking about making outlays meet intake. We need to balance the budget, got it?

    B: So tax cuts and less social spending?

    A: Right. Have a look at these figures I’ve drawn up.

    B: But this shows us going further into the red…

    A. Balanced. Budget.

    B: *sighs*

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