brni (brni) wrote,

politics, push polls, and your tax dollars at work

Today I got an official document from the US House of Representatives.

It's a big mailing - 8.5" x 11" card stock, big image of the US constitution with a picture of Patrick Meehan, our alleged representative, superimposed on it. It sez:


Patrick Meehan

Fighting to Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment

Followed with a bunch of crap about debt and amending the Constitution.

And then there's a tear-off push-poll. What does "push-poll" mean? It means that while pretending to be designed to obtain the reader's opinion (i.e. a legitimate poll), the questions and answers provided to select from are not only biased, but also designed to influence the reader's opinion.

What does that look like? Here, I'll give you an example:

To balance our budget, Congress should:
__ Reduce federal spending and reform programs to reduce waste and efficiency
__ Increase taxes to pay for existing government programs

So, you're either for his program, or you're for waste and inefficiency. This is a logical fallacy called the Loaded Question, and the standard example given is "Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no." Whichever answer you give, you lose.

This mailing is a campaign advertisement, and nothing more.

But... but wait. There, in small letters, italicized and light blue against a dark blue background (rather than standard and bold white type against the dark blue like everything else), it says:

This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense.

Oh, really?

Using my tax dollars to campaign? Fuck that, and fuck you, Mr. Meehan.

This has me so pissed off that I almost forgot to mention what I was originally going to talk about: the idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment. I'm going to do so via analogy.

What would something akin to a balanced budget amendment mean as applied to your average family?

It would mean that it would be illegal for you to maintain a credit card balance. It would be illegal for you to get a mortgage. It would be illegal for you to get a car loan. It would be illegal for you to get any sort of loan at all in excess of what you can and do pay off immediately, for any reason whatsoever. And if you need a place to live, or a car, or an emergency surgery, you get it with the money you have on hand, now, or you put it off until you can save up enough money.

What would something akin to a balanced budget amendment mean as applied to your average business? It means you don't start your business until you've saved up enough to pay for it all. It would be illegal to get a loan to take your business to the next level. It means it would be illegal to buy a property, or the equipment needed to run your business, unless you can pay for it in full. It means that you never take a loan to get through a lean month, or to prepare for a busy xmas season.

If you took the idea of a balanced budget amendment and apply it to people and businesses, you'd have a lot of wrecked businesses, and a lot of impoverished people (or, if they needed medical help, dead people).

Why would anyone, especially the folks who think that government should be run more like a business, think that a balanced budget amendment is a good idea? It would cripple our government and destroy our national infrastructure, leaving infrastructure and pretty much everything else entirely in the hands of the people who can buy it. (Hmmm.)

I'm not saying that unrestrained spending and debt is a good thing. But you need to borrow when things are tight, to get through a bad turn, to get to where you need to be to succeed, and you need to pay the debt down when you're flush. As a country, we've only done one of those. When we're flush, instead of using the excess money to build a reserve and pay down debt, we've given to the wealthy.

A balanced budget amendment doesn't fix that. So it doesn't fix anything.
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