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Who Won the Presidential Debate?

Nobody.  Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney both lost.  In fact, in a real debate, or even a civil conversation, they should have been thrown out, or at least scolded.  I am waiting for the day when a moderator has the guts to say “Mr. President,” you aren’t doing what I asked you to do.  You are not answering the question.”

What we need is a ninth grade school English teacher to be moderator.  Of course, then the stage would have been empty because both candidates would have been sent to the vice principal’s office for disrupting the class.  That might have been good.  The audience could have then had more time to talk an they might have gotten to the roots of some of the problems in this country.

Roots is a good metaphor.  The politicians we have today seem to talk about solving our buckthorn problem by hacking away at the branches.  Anyone with buckthorn invading their garden knows that it has to come out by the roots or it will just come back.  The budget over-runs is like that.

But why do we have to have candidates harping on about raising the debt ceiling (an unfortunate phrase designed to make it sound evil)?  What?  Is the USA going to default on its loan payments? That would be a little ironic, given the number of its citizens who have had to default on theirs.  But governments defaulting on loans from other countries, like individual citizens, find their credit rating ruined — probably for a long, long time.  Maybe that would be good for our country, from a moral and economic perspective, even though it would mean that poor and middle class people would suffer tremendously.  If China cut us off from the addition of borrowing money and the Arabs cut us off from the oil addiction, we would go through a painful withdrawal, but we would then figure out how to make do with what we actually have.

Capitalists operate on the assumption that they can borrow money for a short term and build business with it so that they pay it back to their investors and make a profit.  Usually if this doesn’t happen in five years or so, an entrepreneur will rethink the plan and maybe liquidate.  I know Republicans like to use the analogy that government of a nation is like a business and other nations are out competition, but I am not sure the analogy holds in a case like this.  We have been running our business as a country, taking care of our employees (businesses and individuals) with an eye to making profits. But the Republicans do not really allow the government to receive the profits.  It is, as it were, the middle management of corporate stockholders and captains of industry who get billions, not the USA board of directors or president.  So, government is not really like a business. And even if it were, our government seems to have some poor money skills.

The thing is, I don’t blame the president (whoever he is and whatever party).  The Congress is the center of American government.  The president is just the man to execute the laws passed by Congress.  So, blaming the president, or firing him every four years, is really a smoke screen.  The Congress are the chaps responsible.  And if you look at them as individuals you find that they have very poor money-management skills too.  They probably failed personal finance in high school because they wouldn’t stop yammering on to their friends or shooting spitballs at their enemies.

What we need is a president (and members of Congress) who listen.  Really listen.  And then work to solve problems in the real world.  I do not want a person to reply to my problems with hackneyed rhetoric and zingers.  If a debate about strategies and tactics is necessary, as it always is when a corporation or group is taking on a difficult challenge, then let it be done with the least possible amount of posturing.  Do you come into your committee meetings at work or in a volunteer organization with “talking points” that you then endlessly repeat?  Do you point out the past failings of other committee members in order to try to get elected chairman of the committee?  Well, maybe sometimes this does happen outside the meetings.  But in your meetings, where you work to determine the details of an action plan and a strategy to keep the organization profitable and solvent, you rely on reasoned argument and consensus-building.  I expect you do.

Macho posturing and the tendency to try to interrupt and get in a comeback to something another member of the committee said, does not work well.  That’s why they invented the talking stick.  Men have generally a very bad communication style, compared to women.  At least that’s what my feminist linguistics professor taught me in college.  Men like to interrupt and seize the floor.  Shouting has been a chief part of male primate behavior for millions of years, I suppose.  Are women better listeners?  Well, yes and no.  When I see a group of women meeting socially, they all seem to be talking at the same time.  Yet, they also seem to hear each other just fine.  And they aren’t usually arguing.

In a work situation, I have not had that much experience with all-woman groups (obviously), but my wife has.  From what I can gather, a lot of the stupid ideas come from men who think they know everything and are the only one who could possibly be right.  Such men generate stupid ideas when they are, surprise, wrong.  But let us not make it a gender issue.  Everyone can agree that rational discussion and careful understanding of facts is the main thing needed.  But facts do not, contrary to popular believe, speak for themselves.  They have to be interpreted.

Our presidential candidates do not seem to even get to the point of debating the relative truth-value of different interpretations of the facts.  They instead just deny that the other person is telling the truth about the facts themselves.  Now, it is true that this sort of “debate” is purposefully “dumbed down.”  Our leaders (the management of our big corporation) think that their employees are pretty dimwitted.  They think we can only deal with issues like unemployment in a simplistic way.  For example, some say that President Obama has not done what needs to be done to lower unemployment after the brink of a Great Depression.  Well, that is pure speculation.  No one can say for sure what “might have” worked better.  That the unemployed people in America are frantic and unhappy is true.  But to appeal to their unhappiness and impatience (very natural) and blame the CEO of the company for not hiring more people, seems silly.  Everyone is an armchair general or an armchair quarterback, but the fact is that we have no way of knowing if things would have worked out better or worse for a Republican in the White House.  So, why are we wasting time yammering about such pure speculation.

What we need is to get detailed plans and have them explained in detail.  Not ideological generalities like “giving money to corporate bosses will generate more jobs.”  What we need right now is more customers and giving money to the rich won’t do that as effectively as giving money to the poor.  But both ideas are beside the point.  We do not really have money to give away.  We should not be running a politics of who can we bribe to vote for us?  Giving away money was in fact the old Roman way of politicing, way back when Rome was a Republic.  But it has not been shown to be really good policy unless you have money to give away.

Let’s debate the pros and cons of declaring bankruptcy and starting over.  That’s what businessmen, and many American individuals have had to do.  Why not the whole country?  Well, I suppose you could only really do that if your country was socialist.  As it is, because socialism is considered Satanism by most Americans, we really have nothing else to do but keep borrowing until the cart runs all the way down the hill and smashes up at the bottom.  Then we won’t have any choice left but to start over.  Either way, now or later, we lose our credit rating because, let’s face it, we are not trustworthy.  Not the “government” — US.  All of us have made this system.  Not one party.  Not professional evil politicians.  Not a secret society bent on ruining Western civilization.  Not even the commies.  We build America the way it is and included a culture of irresponsible borrowing.  There is only one person who loves borrowing — a banker.


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