April 15th, 2010
What a world you’ve been born into! Both conservative and liberal pundits alike cannot believe the everythings that are going on with anything at all. Being that you are not yet six weeks old I should probably explain to you…quite a few things as only your father can.
We live in a country based on progress and forward thinking. The Constitution of the United States, at the time of its ratification, was the most liberal and progressive document ever to be written; forging the most radical form of government seen since the times of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. It is what is called a “living document”. It can actually be changed to reflect the needs of a growing nation and to correct the oversights of its authors. While these changes are not easy to make—nor should they be—the authors were forward thinking enough to know that for the country to grow (see: progress) it would have to roll with the punches. Therefore with the ratification of that most secularly sacred document was borne the United States’ long tradition of admitting its imperfections and striving to correct them for the greater good. Unfortunately the direction of progress and, furthermore, the direction in which we, as a nation, move forward is up to debate.
These criteria have very general and ambiguous definitions that can cause quite a few disagreements amongst, well…just about everybody. You see, Jeremy, even though your father considers himself to be an independent thinker he is not, as you will no doubt one day be aware, a unique thinker. Unique thinkers are a rare breed of person that, more often than not find themselves secretly being fed pills in their mashed potatoes. Due to this I have to ascribe, in one form or the other, a political agenda, leaning, or label to my position. I chose liberalism (not to be confused with absurdity).
At any rate, there are in the United States two very broad schools of defining progress and forward thinking. I am squarely in the one that defines them as progress and forward thinking. Confusing? Let me explain the opposite side of the coin. The other definition describes progress as slowly and surely making certain that everything stays exactly the same forever—it disguises all of its old notions as new notions and paints them as forward thinking.
For example: what was once “Reganomics” is now being called “fiscal conservatism”. This is the idea that if you make sure that the rich get richer they will have no choice but to discard their unwanted crumbs to the ground for the poor to scoop up and be glad for— and they’ll do this because of a moral imperative to drop crumbs. Then the rich meet the poor and get married…no wait…that’s the Story of Ruth…sorry. This “trickle-down theory” works much the same way as if I were to give you the thing you wanted most in the world and then you decided to give it to a stranger, just for kicks. As your Daddy always says, Jeremy, “A person can be good but people are no damned good” and because of the cynical truth of these words “trickle-down theory” rarely wields the desired results.
“Fiscal Conservatism” is the generational evolution of that theory—much as you are the generational evolution of me. It’s basic fundamentals revolve around the ideal that a government exists only to protect people from bullets and bombs but not hunger, mental or physical illness, ignorance, or homelessness. To be fair social services are very taxing—both on the pockets of the citizenry and the resources of the government. As I told you before, my son, the disagreements lay in the definitions. The issue here is the definition of protection in a capitalist, free market society.
Those who propel the “Fiscal Conservatism” ideology are also unmitigated believers in an entirely free market economic system—or so they think. Free market capitalism has not existed in the United States since, at least, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 (which was 120 years before your birth). This law was, in fact, a government restriction of unfair company and trust policies that, most importantly, limited the ability of a company or corporation to corner a market and abolish all competition (see: monopoly). In short it was the end of truly free market capitalism because it established the precedent of the government regulating the affairs of an independent enterprise. Ergo, many of the people raging against the machine of liberalism today are angry at laws that were passed before their grandparents were born.
The side of the liberals is equally disappointing, I am sad to report. I hope by the time that you read this the absurd choices that are being made have panned out positively. You see, boy, the man in the Office of the President at this time has confused both his opponents and his constituency with many of his decisions and initiatives. You have been born into something of an economic low tide. When President Obama’s predecessor, Mr. Bush, was in office the conservative pundits were calling the current phenomenon an “economic downturn” but as soon as the Obama Administration took over it was dubbed an all out “depression” in rhetoric if not in actuality. It matters very little that the precipitating factors in this “depression” were well rooted in the Bush administration’s artificial inflation of the economy by removing lending restrictions and its transformation of surplus to deficit with one ill advised war and one mishandled one. When the shit hit the fan the ball was in Obama’s court.
Perception is reality, young man, as I’m sure you’ll learn in the world you’ll be sure to occupy—full of androids that look human, hologram newscasts, and virtual reality classrooms on the moon. Labels, much like my political affiliations, can be misleading—what was downturn in one reign has been transmogrified into depression in another. The disheartening scenario is that given the legislative blank check that the current administration was issued most of the first quarter of its term was squandered. President Obama has been acting like Prime Minister Obama in the sense that a President is a short term king who must answer to the elders and the warriors (the Supreme Court and Congress) to reign in his actions. A Prime Minister attempts to direct the actions of a legislative body (Congress) into creating legislation. A lot of time was wasted when the President did not issue his own health care reform bill to be revised by his checks and balances. The bill was, of course, passed but it took far too long for a super-majority, filibuster proof congress to pass.Meanwhile lackluster and seemingly impotent jobs bills have been passed over and over to little avail.
Liberal constituencies have been expecting a new Deal with comprehensive infrastructure building, short term labor jobs for the unemployed, and stimulus money for Mom and Pop shops. What we got were Nobel Prize speeches and offshore drilling. While there have been good strides with the overdue health care reform, nuclear arms limitations, and dubious military pullout schedules it is hardly the revitalizations we have been hoping for. I hope you see them now, from when you are reading this. With their supermajority in serious jeopardy with the looming November elections it seems the liberals have squandered their time trying to please everyone and getting nothing instead of pleasing most and getting something.
Meanwhile, conservatives scrambling for congressional seats seem to see the strides that are being made and are slapping further labels they do not understand on progress. Those labels are “communism” and “socialism”. Firstly, in abstract reality, there is no such thing as communism. It’s a common misnomer taken from a certain manifesto outlining “socialism”. This “socialism” thing has existed in our democratic republic since the New Deal in 1933 (during the youth of most of your Great-Grandparents’ lives). It was expanded further and further exponentially until the mid 1970’s (during the youth of your Grandparents’ lives). This socialism takes the form of many services offered in your time—unemployment benefits, children’s protection services, social security, and disability benefits (and to some extent even earlier than these are the Fire Department, the Military, the Police, and almost all government agencies that are funded and “owned” by the tax payer). So either spades are now being called spades or conservatives are again raging against machines that are old enough to tell them war stories. Either way the debate is really a day late and a dollar short.
Unfortunately there is very little I can do to wrap this up for you in this letter. It is a never-ending debate. How do we define forward thinking and progress as our national modus operandi? I would like to think it would be by expanding equal rights to all parties—defining heath care as a right and not a benefit, marriage as an option for any two human beings, and transparency as a financial imperative for government bodies—but who knows? Maybe yer ol’ dads got it all wrong. I don’t really know—I just go with my gut. The only thing I can tell you for certain—if you walk away from this letter with any singular truth—let it be this: all authority figures are full of shit. They only look out for their own. Especially Daddy.
P.S. At your last check up you were twenty-one inches long and nine pounds and ten ounces. The day I wrote this letter we went for a walk with Mommy, Grandma Bernie, and Chewy. You had a bath after you spit up a whole bottle and it was tax day.