I believe the #1 problem with the country is very, very simple, and can be put in one sentence:
The people do not run their own government. Done.
I think that no other problem has much any merit so long as this is the case....I am always amused at how, in a lot of overtly political forums I write in, people act as if their political stripe (right or left, fake "conservative" or liberal) has any hands on the levers of power.
They do not. I am all for an argument on where the country should go, left vs right, ONCE the people are actually in control of the government again. Right now, all of this poo-pooing the other side is pointless. Neither side is represented, in truth of policy in significant numbers, by politicians. The entire system is predicated on redress of grievances, and the ability for the populace to alter their government. This, simple as 2 and 2 giving 4, does not happen. Period.
I will give a very inflammatory example: Obamacare
The left wanted: A single-payer system.
The right wanted: Actual competition, with government having no intervention.
Understand that neither of these concerns, of different sides of "we the people", was ever discussed.....why? Well, because we have no representatives. Neither side does, in numbers.
What WAS decided on, argued over, was this:
- Big Pharma allowing the government to negotiate on drug prices was taken off the table immediately.
- Healthcare "exchanges", as are currently being setup, will have a set number of established players in them. This is why, in many states, only 3-4 companies are really available. This was written into the law.
- Any public option was killed very early on, as it would give the big insurance companies downward pressure. They would have someone that could no collude with, so this was unacceptable.
- Getting government out entirely, by no longer allowing for inclusive healthcare networks to be setup, as per a Ron Paul idea, was also taken off the table. This would end "patient funneling", something most private hospitals rely on to make money.
- Medicare rates, which steer private insurer rates, must be approved by a committee (HHS) that is knowingly staffed with members bought off by the big insurers.
I could keep on going.....in short, WHERE is the concern of the people, right or left, being considered at all?
All of those things are simply a tug-of-war over which direction, which industries, will be getting more or less money. It is big industries protecting their investments through their own political coercion....this is the common thread of every law written since about 1980, whether it was NAFTA, Bush's Medicare Part D, or Obamacare.....look at whatever outcome was going to funnel the most money into private hands, and THAT is what got passed, all regardless of party of the President. It is not about ideology, like the powerful would like us to believe.
Power doesn't care whether you are conservative or liberal or a communist or an anarchist....you have NO seat at the table. Thank you for keeping everyone distracted though
As far as the underlying roots of all of this, and how it got this way, it is assuredly a combination of factors that would take many volumes to describe. Part of it is the insidious nature of economic thought from the past 50 years infiltrating the government, part is what Wilton wrote about....but none of that really matters. We don't have a seat at the table. There are no levers for change, regardless of how you would change it, to the actual citizenry. I cannot imagine a problem greater than that.
It's like a joke I heard once:
"If you are heading 90mph towards a cliff in a car, it doesn't matter if you want to steer right or left or hit the brakes....because you are in the trunk. You get no say in the matter." - PJ O'Rourke
That is where we are, all of us.