Last week President Obama lamented that Congress has taken its eye off the ball. In my opinion the President is both right and wrong.
In terms of bills enacted, the current Congress is on pace to shatter the record as the most do nothing Congress in modern history. The 113th Congress has completed roughly seven months of their two year session and thus far has enacted 21 bills and resolutions. At their current pace they will enact about 72 pieces of legislation. By comparison the 112th Congress, which was not known for congeniality nor diplomatic skills, passed 284 bills. The 111th moved 385 while the 110th enacted 460 pieces of legislation.
If you like less government rather than more this trend might be a welcome sign. Unfortunately we have a host of serious problems facing the country that absolutely need to be addressed and our government has become so dysfunctional they are nearly useless at solving problems.
The President unfortunately has never learned that if you live in a glass house you shouldn’t throw stones. Instead of staying in Washington and demonstrating some leadership he has gravitated to what he does best, barnstorming around the country, wasting money we don’t have, campaigning.
The president is also trying to encourage us to take our eye off the ball by declaring a number of the high profile scandals that have rocked his administration as “phony” scandals. I guess he would like us to forget the death of four Americans in Benghazi, or the IRS fiasco, which he later called “A genuine abuse of power” and then was apparently so upset he fired the administrator of the IRS just days before he was set to leave office anyway.
Take it from someone who publishes free newspapers; freedom has a heavy price. To continue as a free society we must make certain our elected officials toe the line, and preserve our rights as citizens to assure the continuation of our democratic nation for future generations.
Last week on the CBS Sunday Morning show there was an interesting piece on human behavior with respect to perceived pleasure. The show went on to explain that pleasure goes well beyond basic needs. Yale psychologist Paul Bloom explained why we enjoy what we enjoy is a very complicated process.
Bloom noted: “Pleasure is a response not just to the physical makeup of something — what it looks like or tastes like, or smells like, or feels like — but rather to our beliefs of what it really IS. This is not true in the animal world but in the human sense of value.”
Bloom recounted one famous experiment with wine drinkers done by scientists at Stanford and Cal Tech, saying: “Half the people are told they’re drinking cheap plunk, the other half are told they’re drinking something out of a $100-$150 bottle. It tastes better to them, if they THINK they’re drinking from an expensive bottle. And it turns out that if they think they’re drinking expensive wine, parts of the brain that are associated with pleasure and reward light up like a Christmas tree.”
I think people today take the same approach to politics. Remove the political labels and a scandal is a scandal. Instead our brain overrides our common sense and we are willing to believe whatever our chosen side is serving up. One side’s scandal is another side’s unfortunate misstep.
We can’t continue down this road of believing whatever we are told simply because the label we voted for said so. We must not become blind to common sense, right from wrong and our gut instincts. Our founding fathers created a government that requires our constant attention. Our country won’t run on auto pilot and we must be ever vigilant to the needs of the people before the wishes of the politicians. The current fiasco with NYC mayoral candidate Weiner is a perfect example of his needs over those of the people. I fear we are the ones who have taken our eyes off the ball. It’s time for us to put our political labels and differences aside and demand accountability from those who hold office, regardless of their party affiliation.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.