Talkin’ Post Election Day Politics

So, being as yesterday was election day, I figure it’s a good time to talk a little politics. On the National level, as expected, the Republicans gained massive ground on the formerly Democrat-controlled Congress. The GOP now has a significant majority in the House of Representatives, and the Dems still maintain a hair-thin majority in the Senate. With a Democrat in the White House, this is a recipe for gridlock for the next two years. To this I say, “Right on!”

As I get older, the more I see very few actual differences between the parties. To me, it’s a six of one, half a dozen of the other type deal. To be certain, on various issues, there are vast differences between the two sides, but is one really better than the other? Pick your poison isn’t exactly what the founding fathers had in mind, I don’t believe, yet that is consistently the choice we’re faced with at the ballot box every year. A split government that can’t agree on a lunch order, let alone far-reaching legislation is the best of all possible worlds in my mind. The less they can intrude, the better off we all are.

The best economic period in my working lifetime was during the Clinton administration when we had some of the worst Federal-level gridlock on record. It’s not lost on me that the prosperity that occurred then happened with little influence or intrusion from government. Since then, we’ve had a Republican controlled Federal government under George W. Bush, and we all know how well that worked out, and we’ve spent the past two years under a Democrat-controlled Federal government, and that, truthfully, hasn’t been any better. In fact, a lot of people are of the opinion that it has actually been worse. The two lynch-pin “accomplishments” of the Obama administration are, in fact, massive failures that look a lot like big business, pro-corporate decisions that the GOP are frequently ripped for. The Trillion dollar bank bailout hasn’t achieved anything but allowing the very financial institutions that screwed us all to save their own bacon on the taxpayer’s dime, and the universal health care plan essentially amounts to forcibly throwing big chunks of our money, under penalty of law, at an insurance industry that, again, is a major part of the problem with health care costs. Not exactly what I would call positive developments for the little guy, unless you’re defining “little” as seven- or eight- figure corporate CEOs.

My point here being that Federal level gridlock isn’t only not a bad thing, it may well be the best possible thing that could happen to us at the moment. A genuine economic recovery in this country will not happen because of government assistance. In fact, much like the recovery from the Great Depression in the 1930s, the more government gets involved, the longer any recovery will take to happen. We, as individual citizens, are what makes the economic engine of this country tick. It’s not the government, it’s not the corporations, it’s not the banks; it is us and only us. And the less interference we have from legislators, the quicker it will occur. The only problem here is that there is another election in two years and, as things look right now, there is a distinct possibility of one-party control over both houses of Congress and the Presidency. Let’s not make that mistake again. We should make it a general rule to never, and I repeat, never allow Congress and the White House to be controlled by the same party again. Only catastrophe results from that. In-fighting, political mudslinging and gridlock are good things for this country as it means our elected representatives have less time and ability to pass endless legislation that only serves the ends of the people paying their bills–the lobbyists, campaign contributors and their own political parties. Always vote No for one-party control.

Which brings me to the local level. Local politics are a very different animal from the National level, primarily because of the fact that you are far more likely to get actual people running for office that truly believe in what they are doing, as opposed to career politicians that essentially are shills for their parties. Certainly, you get some of those, locally, too, but they are generally ladder-climbers who won’t be in local office very long anyway, always looking for the next best office to run for. But there are, at least, a few people out there locally worth voting for in any given election. Having only recently moved to Kent County from Cecil County, I’m not totally up on the political maneuverings down here as yet. But I feel obligated to comment on something from my former county.

I was sad to see that it looks like Cecil actually passed charter government this time around, after nearly 40 years and five previous efforts. One of my main reasons for relocating away from Cecil was the increasing size and cost of government, and the tax burden to go with it. Charter government will essentially convert the county from a five-commissioner system to one with a County Executive and a 12-member board. There is simply no way that this isn’t going to become a massively more expensive proposition. If you all in Cecil think your property taxes are high now, just wait till this system is in place. And we all know how smoothly and efficiently boards of directors operate, right? This is a nightmare waiting to happen. I wonder sometimes, exactly what voters are thinking when they pass things like this, but then it dawns on me. Cecil has become a bedroom community that’s future is largely being determined by people who have just moved there in the past decade or so. I doubt there’s any real way to find out, but I’d be willing to bet that long-time Cecil residents of two-decades or more were likely against this, with the relative new-comers putting the initiative over the top. But whatever system of government is in place, the problems with Cecil go far beyond any particular structure.

Cecil is a bedroom community. The job base is not where it needs to be and is shrinking. There is very little manufacturing base. The sales tax, perched as it is right beside tax-free Delaware, will forever limit any significant growth in retail business, and most of the residents here collect paychecks from some other place they commute to. And on top  of that, regulations make it prohibitive for small businesses, and extremely difficult to get through the first few years as a new company.  That means that the only ways to raise money here are basically the property tax and the local income tax, both of which take advantage of essentially a captive audience.  I’m not exactly sure how to fix this without major changes in regulations and a serious slashing of tax rates across the board, and that is simply not going to happen, especially not in this environment.  Charter government is going to be a much more expensive and convoluted system that will, ultimately, make it more difficult for the average citizen to stay abreast of what their representatives are up to.  But, hey, that’s what free elections are all about.  Everyone is free to make their own mistakes.  And this one may turn out to be a whopper.

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