Holding my breath

I’ve spent the last couple of days revisiting the urban archipelago. With the November elections fast approaching, and an initiative on the ballot in Washington state that would (finally) introduce a state income tax and balance out our regressive tax structure a little, it’s no surprise that partisan rancor over the subject has been cranked up to 11.

If the upcoming midterm is a referendum on jobs and the economy, one would tend to expect a debate between different proposals, but with fewer weeks than fingers remaining until the ballots are cast, the debate centers around whether or not all of the tax cuts are extended or not.

Supposedly, a new “Contract with America” is forthcoming, although at this late stage it’s not even entirely clear on whose version of this we’ll be presented with. There’s still some attention being given Paul Ryan’s imaginary flat-tax proposal, even though there’s nothing flirting with serious support to be found anywhere in the GOP.

While I’m dubious that there is ANYTHING to be done with regard to unemployment by the government, I find it curious that republican advocates (who uniformly blame the government for not doing anything) support candidates who propose, well, doing nothing. Yet in the same breath, at least at an informal level, these same individuals are WELL within the minority, and really don’t have a position outside of not wanting to pay taxes and the belief that somehow the deficit will disappear if we just cut entitlement programs enough (as much as I’d like to dismiss it as an oversimplification, that really isn’t the case).

When the urban archipelago was first published, I heard it criticized as needlessly partisan and divisive, yet a couple years down the road, the conditions it originally outlined have only become more pronounced; the urban centers have continued to expand while outlays for things like unemployment insurance have gone up. The blue states are still producing the vast majority of wealth and paying “welfare” for the red states that allegedly oppose it.

Meanwhile, my suggestion that we could save almost two trillion by only buying 2,000 JSFs instead of 2,400 and change brought protests that this would greatly hamper our ability to protect Europe and criticized for forgetting their history of occasional ethnic cleansing. I never did really make sense of this outside of perhaps the possibility that we might need those extra 400+ fighters in the event that we’re ever attacked by a casino.

Meanwhile, discussion only drifted further from anything like a coherent debate, much less offering a pathway to consensus. While I have to admit, there are still some stirrings of empathy left, in so far as in spite of our disagreements, we’re all still Americans, I’ve begun to wonder if perhaps we won’t eventually see a day when we’re faced with a choice of either dissolving the union or entering into insolvency.

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