Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My political thought for the day

I have a lot of lefty friends who are 100% in support of the Occupy Wall Street protests and I hear noise from those on the right who think it's all a bunch of crap.

As usual, I think both sides are a little right and mostly really wrong.

I have been a politics junkie for a long time, and it seems to me that the "it's all your fault" fingerpointing in American politics has reached an all-time high. A vast majority of people think taxes should go up -- on someone else, but not on them. Similarly, large groups of people -- Occupy Wall Street on the left and the Tea Partiers on the right -- think that the financial problems in this country are all the *other* side's fault.

But reality seems to be, as it usually is, squarely toward the middle, and fault seems to be all around. Yes, it is absolutely ridiculous that hedge-fund guys pay taxes at a lower rate than others. And yes, unscrupulous bundling and selling of sub-prime loans took place. But, on the other side, a vast movement, mostly from the left, to get more people to become homeowners, often through Fannie and Freddie loans, means that an absurd number of people bought houses that they simply could not afford. Default and foreclosure was nearly a foregone conclusion from the outset of those loans, and that isn't just the fault of one side. The blame is on Wall Street and Main Street. And, really, if you want to eliminate the deficit, just let the Bush income-tax cuts expire on *everyone*, not just the rich. It wasn't the "rich" that principally benefitted from those cuts. We all did. Spread the pain around, and actually get a better result.

The Simpson/Bowles commission got it right by proposing a deficit-elimination approach that hit everyone a little for the benefit of all in the long run. Sadly, that sort of compromise seems to be on the minds of neither the "Occupiers" nor the "Partiers," who both believe it's all the other guy's fault.

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