A New Game Show: The Blame Game

Look around you. Put your iPhone down, stop your online shopping for just a minute, and stop posting on Facebook. Take a deep breath, look up, look around, watch, and observe. Listen to what you’re hearing…or not hearing for that matter.

A new gameshow is building both momentum and popularity amongst our Country’s leaders. It’s not Family Feud, it’s not Price is Right, nor is it Let’s Make a Deal. This new gameshow is called The Blame Game. The object is to point as many fingers as possible toward other people and escape both responsibility and accountability. The winner is crowned Teflon Don…or Donna. It’s the ultimate game for losers, and one that is gaining popularity because we allow it to. And the worst part is that there’s not just one winner…there’s many, many, many, many….

Our Country has moved toward a shallow ignorance. A state of numbness where we’ve insulated ourselves from the misguided missteps of our leaders. Everyone gets an unlimited number of “free passes” in The Blame Game, because we allow it. We give a free pass to those who inherited a mess, or those who just can’t make the tough – often times unpopular – decisions. We shrug our shoulders and continue on with our lives moving further and further away from our Country’s founding principles which include very specific references to God, power emanating from the people, a Constitution, private property ownership, and a republic rather than a direct democracy. (How many people would you guess don’t know there’s a difference?)

Our leaders of today are often times winners of a popularity contest. Great orators, sharp dressers, charismatic charmers, and savvy politicians capable of weaving in and out of distressed situations so as to not get to entangled in them whereby they must roll up their sleeves, jump in, get involved, and work toward a solution. They are a group of master delegators not for the sake of efficiency but for the sake of creating political insulation for when things go sideways.

While hope is not a strategy, I do hope (and pray) for a true leader to emerge soon. One that our Country can rally around. One who wants to be held accountable. One who makes decisions based upon their beliefs and convictions, not on polling numbers. One who possesses the character and integrity that promotes family values, personal responsibility, and self-improvement. One who other countries respect and in some cases fear…or at least know they mean what they say. Does such a leader exist? Is he or she already on the path to leadership or are they awaiting a nudge from family or friends to “just do it”? While we can wait and hope for things to get better, we should all go back and re-read our Country’s founding principles. Then and only then will we know whether our hope is possible or misplaced.

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What Our Constitution Really Says

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It’s been said that if the U.S. government was a business it would have gone bankrupt long ago. But unlike regular business the government can print money any time it wishes which results in issuing more debt. When a business needs credit it must apply for it and get approved. It must also have a plan to repay the debt borrowed.  When the government needs more credit it simply raises the debt ceiling and prints more money.  The last several years of QE2 show that this approach simply doesn’t work.  The economy has been stagnant…growing yes…but at a very anemic rate.

The U.S. government was born “for the people and by the people” yet operates like none of the people – at least law-abiding citizens – that live here? Our citizens have rules and laws we must live by yet the government seems to operate without boundaries. So how do we get back on track?

We need to get back to the basics of what this country was founded on…principle. I’ve written a fair amount on this topic in the past but a review of our Constitution is really something that should happen immediately to get back on track. Factually there is only one thing our Constitution provides for citizens of the United States…”a common defence”, and no that’s not a misspelling. All other aspects of the Preamble are stated as “establishing”, “promoting”, or “securing” the item referenced.

While Franklin Roosevelt is widely regarded as one of the great Presidents of the United States, the programs he developed and ultimately implemented as a result of his New Deal created permanent provisions for citizens that are now viewed as entitlements. Born out of crisis, and mostly with good intentions, programs were developed to provide American’s with a safety net, but were not intended to become lifestyle arrangements. Our generation’s crisis – The Great Recession of 2008 and ’09 – led to dramatic actions taken to expand that safety net. Today, in some states like Nevada, unemployment benefits can last up to 77 weeks, and are currently being reviewed to extend beyond that. Healthcare reform – or Obamacare – will add more than $6 trillion dollars to our national debt, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and that number is likely to increase given the lower than expected enrollment numbers and the forecasted savings  not panning out.

So where do we go from here? What should our government actually be doing?

Instead of focusing on solving for specific needs Congress should take a macro approach to governing. Meaning, ensuring we have a strong country (defence), knowing that only a strong country can grow and produce jobs. Jobs produce income and income drives economic growth. Without jobs our country is in a scary predicament. We will have to continue to rely on countries like China to purchase our debt. Why does that matter? Because we no longer own our country. If you take out a mortgage on a home or a car loan who is the real owner? You? Not until it’s paid off. Until then you simply operate it…but don’t own it. And when true disaster strikes like The Great Recession, those overburdened or highly leveraged lost their houses and cars. Could that happen with our country? I pray not.

The next area the government should focus on is education.  Growing strong minds is as important as having a strong country.  In fact, I’d argue that the military alone can not secure or deliver a strong country.  Smart, educated people who are capable of solving problems, innovating, inventing, and leading are critical ingredients to making a strong country.  Let our people solve our most pressing problems.  Let our capitalistic structure work as it was intended to work and refocus the governments time and resources on its specific responsibilities as referenced in our Constitution.  Then we can get back on track to fulfilling the American dream.