Kadner: The unreal world of politics is a strange, exotic place
Phil Kadner email@example.com | (708) 633-6787 September 5, 2012 8:14PM
Updated: October 7, 2012 7:59AM
Watching political conventions is a lot like viewing images sent back from the Mars Rover.
There’s great anticipation, an alien landscape and details that appear insignificant but cause experts to blow air bubbles out their nose.
What goes on at the conventions, or on Mars, has little connection to the world I live in.
There’s a lot of talk, for example, about people who own their businesses or would like to start a business. I plan to do neither.
And there’s a never-ending line of people explaining how they have overcome injustice, hardship, physical disability and mental anguish to get where they are today.
Where is that? On a national stage, hawking a politician as if he were a box of cereal. “He contains all the ingredients to safeguard democracy and protect our children.” (Warning: May be hazardous to pregnant women, pose a danger to homosexuals and cause projectile vomiting).
I know there are people who sincerely believe that electing a Republican or Democratic president will somehow change their lives or save the country from destruction.
Some of them are my friends. And they baffle me because most of the time they tell me, “Never trust a politician. They’re all crooks.”
Hey, I understand the basic human need to believe in miracles. I admire those who continue to have faith, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they can elect a public official who won’t lie to them.
My expectations are much lower. I would simply like a public official who, on occasion, talks to me about the things that really tick me off.
Like banks paying interest rates of .025 percent. I don’t understand why people should be expected to save money if they’re not getting a decent return on the money they save.
And how about those 401(k) funds that so many people were relying on for retirement? I understand the concern about the national debt, but I’m really much more interested in my 401(k), which leaks money like a sieve.
Both parties say they’re really concerned about the middle class. So how is it that from 2000 to 2011 the nation’s median household income dropped from $72,956 to $69,487, according to a Pew research study.
In 1970, the middle class held 62 percent of the income in the country, according to Pew’s study, and the upper-income group held 29 percent. Now, the middle class holds 45 percent of the income and the wealthy 46 percent.
Democrats can blame Republicans. Republicans can blame Democrats. The bottom line is that despite all the political love, the middle class has suffered.
If you work hard, go to school, don’t get in trouble with the law and love your parents, good things will happen to you. That’s the message I keep hearing from the convention speakers.
I know many people over the past 10 years who did all of that and lost their jobs, their homes and in some cases their self-respect.
They didn’t do anything wrong. Today, they’re earning incomes that are a fraction of what they took home 10 years ago.
That sort of story doesn’t get a lot of time at the political conventions, where speakers talk a lot about how generations of Americans worked and sacrificed so their children could have a better future.
That story is true for some. But for a long period of time, many Americans sent their children into sweatshops or down into coal mines or out into the fields to pick crops so the family wouldn’t starve.
I’m not judging those people. If you’re trying to survive today, you don’t waste time pondering the fate of future generations.
There’s also been a lot of pandering to old folks at the conventions, with talk about the future of Medicare and Social Security.
If either political party had really cared about Social Security, would they have reduced the contributions from payroll taxes by 2 percent?
For decades we’ve been told that the Social Security Trust Fund is facing a financial crisis. In recent years, we’ve been told that federal government spending is out of control.
The solution? Cut the Social Security payroll tax and shift that debt onto the federal government.
That’s the political system I know and love.
As I watch the conventions, I keep thinking about all the bankers and Wall Street brokers who made fortunes from bad home loans that eventually crushed the real estate market and created the severe recession that lingers today.
I can’t remember how many billions of dollars we spent bailing them out, but I don’t hear anyone at the political conventions blaming them for the country’s problems.
It’s working stiffs who ended up paying the bill, losing their jobs and their homes in the process.
And now the politicians want their votes. It’s unreal TV programming.