Thursday, September 15, 2011

Musings on Home, Intelligence and Blame

Home Sweet Home: The man responsible for building our home died Monday at age 81. He didn’t actually hammer the nails into the frame, or do any other type of manual labor. But Martin Berger, along with his partner Robert Weinberg, created our residential neighborhood as a prelude to transforming much of Westchester County and specifically White Plains into a thriving commercial district through projects developed by the Robert Martin Co.

Our little subdivision, known officially as Carriage Hill, was built in 1966. The three streets created within the development bare the names of Berger’s business and family relationships: Romar Avenue after Robert Martin; Teramar Way after his then wife Terry and Martin; our street, Brad Lane, named after his son, Brad.

Back in 1990, while attending a UJA meeting for an upcoming family trip to Israel, I sat in a room with perhaps 40 others. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, the maybe 30-something young man with long, curly, prematurely grey hair sitting next to me said his name was Brad Berger. I couldn’t resist telling him I lived on his street.

According to his father’s obituary, Brad now lives in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Proof Positive: I’m normally a cynic when it comes to the intelligence of the electorate. Here’s a clip from Jay Leno’s Tuesday show that provides more than ample proof I have much to be worried about:

(In case you have difficulty opening this link, Jay questioned young adults, all citizens, about their knowledge of American history, questions he culled from the test administered to immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship. Here are some of the answers provided by three people interviewed by Leno:

Who fought in the Civil War? The U.S. and Britain
Who was president during the Civil War? George Washington
Who assassinated President Lincoln? Lee Harvey Oswald
When was the Declaration of Independence written? 1935
How many Supreme Court justices are there? Two
How many U.S. senators are there? One
How many U.S. senators are there? 52, because there are 52 states
Who is the current chief executive of the country? Greenspan
Name a country that borders the United States? Europe)

How could these people allow themselves to be shown on television exhibiting such utter stupidity? I guess getting 15 seconds of fame was worth more than keeping their veil of dignity and intelligence.

Leno had a response I found acceptable. He ended each person’s interview by suggesting they enter a nearby van so they could be transported across the border where they could learn more about America before being permitted to re-enter.

The Next Phase: We’re moving into the next phase of the election process—the blame game for who’s responsible for the lousy economy. For all you old timers, it’s like the “who lost China” debate of the early 1950s, and the “who lost Vietnam” debate of the 1960s and 1970s.

I think I can safely say both political parties share the blame for the economic distress we find ourselves wallowing in. From Clinton through Obama and their respective congressional partners, the leadership of our country has enabled corporate America and wealthy Americans to escape taxes, or at least their fair share, while ignoring the deterioration of the middle and working classes’ buying power. They’ve allowed more people to slip into poverty. You know the rest, the soaring national debt, etc., so I won’t detail it.

Democrats and Republicans clearly are not able to work together. So here are two tongue-in-cheek solutions to consider:

First, let’s give Republicans a chance to implement their program, on the condition that if GOP ideas to get people back to work don’t produce substantial results by September 2012, say, an unemployment rate of 8% or lower, they will agree to adopt the Democratic plan. If the GOP plan works, no doubt they’d be swept into office in November 2012. But if it doesn’t work they have to accept the Democratic plan for one year regardless of how the election turns out.

My second suggestion is to stop federal spending in states where governors and legislators complain about excessive federal spending. So, in a state like Texas, Gov. Perry could not request any federal disaster relief for the wild fires that are consuming his state. Nor could he ask for FEMA funds if a tornado or hurricane struck. And Perry’s constituents would stop receiving monthly Social Security checks since it’s just a Ponzi scheme, anyway.

Residents of states opting out of federal funding would have to decide if they want to continue to live in those states. That will force them to decide if the federal government really is the bane of their lives, or if they care more for the opportunity to carry a concealed weapon, or if they want their children to learn about Creationism, or some other value that overrides being part of the national budget.