Monday, April 8, 2013

Blame Yourself

While the temperamental season of spring appears to have finally come to most of the United States, over the weekend, we still noticed plenty of people still huddling inside barber shops, beauty salons, bars, and coffee houses, talking about the Husker Spring Game, or grousing about the stupidity in their state and federal government organizations.

We're not going to disagree about there being some amazingly stupid legislators at the state levels, in every U.S. state and territory, from Alaska and Guam, to Maine and Puerto Rico, and everywhere in between. There's been an amazing number of idiotic state government actions so far this year - even just in the last ten days.

For example, a Republican state Senator in Nebraska wants to allow legally concealed weapons to be carried inside the state capitol - which is already fully protected by armed and trained members of the Nebraska State Patrol. In the face of a wave of growing right-wing violence in states like Texas and Colorado, putting more guns in the untrained hands of those whose primary job is not law enforcement, but rather law making, seems just plain stupid.

In North Carolina, lawmakers last week were attempting to establish an official state religion, while state legislators in Tennessee want to punish the families of those receiving state aid by reducing that aid if the children of those desperately poor parents happen to perform badly in school.

In Kansas, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Alabama, state legislators there have all passed or are about to pass laws that effectively outlaw the fully legal practice of abortion - as if those states had more authority than the Federal government to re-decide previously settled Federal law. It may be news to the ill-informed idiots in those statehouses, but nullification was decided by the Civil War - and the pro-nullification side lost, badly.

For all the dolts we see in Congress, the morons at the state level of government often make their DC legislative cousins look like absolute amateurs in a contest of who can be the most stupid.

Sadly, if you're having this same discussion at the coffee shops and kitchen tables in your neighborhood, you're also probably looking at some of the people responsible for the actions of those legislators - namely you and your neighbors.

Some of the problem is certainly what we pay our state legislators, who are in most states part-timers. Twenty-five states pay less than poverty level wages for their lawmakers, so it's no surprise that lawyer-filled lobby shops prey like vultures on underpaid state legislators.

Some of the problem is also the laws we have regarding serving in government. Simple term limits don't work and the effectively worthless limitations on lobbying and campaign "dark money" corrupt government at all levels. The laws regarding campaign finance must be changed if we expect to see the power of unregulated money change. Effective media reform also must be undertaken so that the job of honestly informing the public doesn't fall so much on the shoulders of comedians and cartoonists.

That's where the other part of the pay problem comes in.

So long as we allow continue to allow income inequality to get worse in America, we will be paying an increased price in time, robbing from ourselves more and more of the ability to govern, as we work harder for less, and are able to save nothing for when (or if) we get old. Meanwhile, our inability to pay attention to our government will continue to allow the wealthiest to effectively steal part of the earnings of those who actually know how to work hard for an honest day's living.

We'll agree with the neighborhood fool at the cafe that our representatives in most states aren't exactly the brightest bulbs on the string.

Then again, we all get what we pay for - and as employers, on a state legislative level, we the people of America don't pay enough in dollars or with our time and attention to what they do.

If we, as citizens, want things to change in our government, we have to start by changing how we handle that government ourselves.

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