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article imageOp-Ed: Vermin on the Hill — How Congress provides a 911 every day

By Paul Wallis     Mar 30, 2012 in Politics
Sydney - I’ve been describing American politics as pure criminal anti-democracy for some time. But a US election year, which happens in the same years as the Olympics, is worth watching for the exact opposite reasons that I watch the Olympics.
US elections are the world’s greatest freak show. The contestants guarantee to achieve nothing or much less. In fact, they can guarantee a lot more forms of non-achievement than most people give them credit for. They can also help define the cosy Utopia that Washington has become. Who needs Al Qaeda, when you have the American political gravy train costing more than 911 ever did, every day?
This is what any incoming Congress can now guarantee:
No passage of legislation
No objectivity of any kind
Not even the slightest acknowledgement of the public interest, on any level
Cronyism on a colossal scale
No hint of corruption will ever be made
Constitutional constipation whenever the Supreme Court wakes up
National reflux in the form of tirades from people who still seem to think they have a superior morality
Massive costs for any defence project- based purely on never demanding scrutiny of contract costs
Bill riders which add to the net cost of anything and everything
Turgid debates in which no end product or outcome is ever mentioned.
Endless negativism
Corporations valued far above the public
Repeated failures across the entire spectrum of governance
Vermin on the Hill
In the midst of this historically unparalleled descent into mediocrity, some snippets are emerging of how US politics seceded from the United States. American politicians didn’t fire on Fort Sumter- They simply realized that they only got performance reviews every 4 years. Imagine a criminal law system where the police are only allowed to be active for one day, every 4 years.
American politicians get away with murder, quite literally, simply because the actual murders are carried out by “the system”, not individuals. There’s no liability on Congress for paying for its mistakes. If anyone else did the sort of human damage Congress does on a daily basis, they’d be executed.
Try a few samples of how US politics works, 9 to 5:
David Brooks of The New York Times on the subject of trying to be a moderate conservative. I’ve seen Brooks directly criticized for being way too liberal for Tea Party tastes and not toeing the hard line on all issues. My theory is that the almost totally and deliberately illiterate Tea Party simply doesn’t like anything it can’t understand, and uses any opportunity to undermine anyone in its own interests.
Paul Krugman, NYT’s eminent economist, discussing ALEC,(American Legislative Exchange Council) a wonderfully refreshing bipartisan group of representatives, funded by Koch among others- Which is largely involved in writing “conservative legislation for all occasions”. This group is the Hallmark of state and Federal legislation, and includes Democrats and Republicans. The objects of the legislation include more jails, more people to put in them, etc.
I did a bit more research into ALEC and found that the only big corporate missing from the list of participants is Monsanto. Check out this site, which includes a reply to Krugman and a series of “platform” statements which I think anyone who knows US politics will find quite familiar in so many ways.
The Super PACs- The cynical, disingenuous and blatantly unworkable in form alternative to honest public donations, which allow corporations to put billions into their dear little hate campaigns and preventing any form of working democracy. This money could be used to employ people, could be used for anything else, but no, it’s used to elect these hardworking self-promoters who are guardians of the public.
The net effect of all this insular brilliance:
US literacy rate- 99% literacy- and #45 on the list of national literacy tables, not #1, where it was for years.
Deaths in US hospitals from preventable medical errors: 195,000 in 2000-1. That’s the equivalent of 40 Iraq wars, or 4 Vietnam wars, in one year.
US poverty 46 million people in 2011, the highest “official” poverty level since the Census Bureau started collecting data.
US housing prices- Still haven’t bottomed out, and foreigners are buying the houses.
Unemployment- Still staggering along at 8.3% officially, and not budging much despite new jobs, suggesting that the participation rate is being held up by people being driven back into looking for work.
Bankruptcy filings to 2010- Steadily increasing, with business bankruptcies tripling in 2006-9, and non-business bankruptcies up by 150%.
It took me, a foreigner, less than 20 minutes to find these stats. Not four years. Any equation to be made there?
What, you may ask, has Congress contributed to solving these situations? (You should ask, because you’re the fools paying for all this mismanagement.)
Congress has contributed:
Stonewalling on all health care issues, not just health insurance.
Stonewalling on tax breaks for the super-rich
Stonewalling on debt.
Zero on education
Zero on regulation of finance
Zero on poverty reduction
Zero on budget cost blowouts, while simultaneously howling about “waste” and deficits created by bailing out corporations.
A simple question, and a simple answer-
Q. Never mind who you vote for, what are you voting for?
A. Doesn’t matter. Congress will fail, as usual for decades, to deliver.
Poverty, unemployment, debt, you name it, they’ll all still be there in 2016, because Congress, whoever gets elected President, isn’t going to do a damn thing about any of them.
America is now accepting national failure on the basis of political expediency. Washington’s elite enemas are the Madoffs and Bin Ladens of the past, present and future.
Even more damningly, American “political pundits” are becoming more like soap opera fans. They watch the show, and take it at face value, fascinated with the production, and not noticing the total lack of actual content or substance. The “fanatics” are usually the least literate, least aware of legislative back doors and those with absolutely no idea of what a government is supposed to do. There is no such thing as effective criticism of Congress, no redress for the public, and no working mechanism to control abuses of congressional power.
It really is 911 every day, and Americans are paying for the privilege. You can vote for ALEC or you can vote for the Easter Bunny, but until these bastards are personally accountable for their failures, don’t expect much to change.
Remember the Alamo? You’re living in it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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