Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The bucket rule of politics and economics

There's a hole in our bucket

I tried to teach our daughter about economics, at an early age. And my device was an old bucket. I punched a few holes in the bottom of the bucket and then she started pouring in water, which of course ran out the holes. Then I punched in more holes and she again poured in more water. This time she had to pour in more water at a faster rate. Eventually I completely removed the bottom of the bucket and she discovered that no amount of water could be used to fill the bucket; it ran out as fast as she could pour it in. Then I said to her, “Water is like money. Unless you balance what you pour in with what comes out the bottom you’ll never succeed in having any money left over.” She got the lesson. Our government never has.

Right now the spigot that regulates the flow is severely restricted. What used to supply our needs—tax revenues from the middle class—is disappearing at an alarming rate leaving only one source: those with money, to pick up the tab. And this restriction is coinciding with a bucket with ever-growing holes. Republicans are crying fowl and claiming class warfare. But I have a simple-minded question: Who pays? It requires lots of water to pour into a bucket with a disappearing bottom. The poor can’t pay. The middle-class is rapidly shrinking, so that leaves only those who can pay.

There are presently lots of naysayers who say that the wealthy will just pull up anchor and flee to more favorable shores. Indeed they may and they have. Nothing can stop them except only one thing: A sense of public responsibility. For far too long just about everyone, from the wealthy down to the chronically poor, have shed a sense of public responsibility and milked the system for every drop. Now we face a serious emergency and it remains to be seen if anyone, rich or poor, will change course and do the right thing. If not, then our way of life will end rather quickly.

Presently Congress is in the process of making a bad situation worse by creating policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. They take pride in enhancing the wealth of the prosperous by insuring the death of millions. Does this have anything to do with Zen? I think it does and here’s how: The essence of Zen is to bypass delusion and see clearly—things as they are, not as we wish them to be. Wishful thinking got us all into this mess and now we have lots of holes, not enough water and are on the verge of disaster. 

Another parallel is the understanding that we are all connected. The super wealthy may desire their exclusive independence, but such a thing is not possible. In a civilized society we share lots of things: The air we breathe, the water we drink, a common infrastructure that either allows prosperity or sinks us all, a food and money supply, and many others points of intersection. The notion that anyone can milk the system and get off scot-free is delusional. Individually and collectively we create karma either for the good or for the bad. We have no choice except to live with what we create together. And to continue with the ideological logjam while people are starving is madness. The resources of our nation do not belong to politicians. We supply these resources through our blood, sweat and tears, and for the people in Washington to withhold what we have contributed is outrageous. We elected these people to represent us, not kill us. It’s 11:59 and unless we collectively wake up, midnight and the nightmares that come along will soon be here.
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