|I can't help but wonder if it's not our politicians and bishops who employ tin foil to get in touch with whatever reality it is they are in touch.....because it doesn't seem to be the same reality the rest of us live in.
The following excerpts are taken from an article by Paul Rosenberg for Salon.com. What makes this article well worth reading is it's information about how American voters would actually handle the current 'raise revenues vs budget cuts' crisis. It turns out the the vast majority of Americans, including the Tea Party faction, are much more practical about this issue than their elected demagogues. In fact, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Tea Party folks all wind up considerably to the left of the Democratic party. Yes, you read that right, even the self described Tea Party faction produced cuts and revenue solutions to the left of the current Democratic party. How much more up is down can one get?
The data described below is based on a series of polls designed by the Program for Public Consultation, an adjunct of the University of Maryland. They did two studies in 2010 and 2011, designed to find out what Americans would do in a practical as opposed to ideological sense with the Federal budget deficit. The following are extracts from the much longer article:
..........The results of the process were extremely detailed, particularly compared to what pollsters normally produce. But the big picture was strikingly clear. Massive cuts to defense on the spending side, massive tax hikes on the revenue side — both positions well to the left of the Obama administration, as well as Democratic leaders in Congress. More specifically, on the spending side, the public favored an average net reduction of $135.3 billion for general defense spending ($109.4 billion), intelligence ($13.1 billion) and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq ($12.8 billion), compared to increases proposed by both President Obama and the GOP-dominated House. This represented just over 92 percent of net spending cuts. When you add in cuts to military aid and strategic economic aid to U.S. allies, the total cuts involving what the pollsters described as “spending on American international power” came to 96 percent of the total — $139.4 billion. Yet, the public also supported modest increases in several liberal priority areas: job training, education, energy conservation and renewable energy, and pollution control. Their average net reduction of all spending — $146 billion — was far more than either the president or the GOP House proposed. (This is mind boggling. Americans across all the political divides almost exclusively recommend steep cuts in defense programs, not entitlements. This is the utter opposite of the what one hears in the mainstream media. More up is down.)
On the revenue side, the public increased taxes by an average of $292 billion—roughly triple the amount proposed by President Obama. Majorities increased taxes on incomes over $100,000 by 5 percent or more, and by 10 percent or more for incomes over $500,000. Majorities also increased corporate taxes and other excise taxes. Overwhelming majorities also favored raising estate taxes: 77 percent favored reverting at least to the 2009 levels, with estates over $3.5 million taxed at a 45 percent rate. These positions are generally so far left, they don’t even appear on the spectrum of discussion in Washington. (I love the last sentence. Yes when was the last time any of us heard a peep about raising estate taxes or corporate taxes? Maybe the Occupy folks aren't so far out in left field as we are meant to believe.)
The researchers also found broad agreement across party lines. Their first report noted, “Among a total of 31 areas, on average Republicans, Democrats and independents agreed on 22 areas — that is, all three groups agreed on whether to cut, increase or maintain funding. In 9 other areas there was dissensus.” That’s not to say there weren’t differences. Republicans cut much less from defense — $55.6 billion for core defense (versus $109.4 billion) — and much less overall — $100.7 billion (versus $146 billion) — than Americans as a whole. But even so, the position of Republican respondents overall was still dramatically to the left of the political conservation in Washington. (Those who advocated for the least amount of cuts, were Republicans, not free spending big guv'mint democrats.)
It is striking that no group — Republican, Democrat, or independents — on average acted in ways that fit their respective media stereotypes. It might be assumed that Republicans would cut the most; Democrats would cut the least or even increase spending; and that independents would be in between. But on the contrary:Thus, everything the media and Washington’s conventional wisdom tells you about the will of the voters is wrong. But don’t forget the Tea Party! They, too, did not respond as expected. Sure, they were more conservative than Republicans overall, but they still come across as wild-eyed socialists compared to their D.C. representatives:
- Republicans cut spending the least, though still considerably ($100.7 billion, or 7.4%)
- Democrats cut spending more than Republicans ($157.3 billion, or 11.6%)
- Independents cut spending substantially more than either Republicans or Democrats ($195.5 billion or 14.4%).
Those who described themselves as “very sympathetic” to the Tea Party (14% of the full sample), as would be expected, raised taxes and revenues less than Republicans in general, and less than Democrats and independents. Even so, on average, Tea Party sympathizers found a quite substantial $188.2 billion in additional revenues to reduce the deficit ($105.2 billion in individual income taxes)....
I take a great deal of hope from this article. It says alot about how manufactured the differences are in this country. When Americans are given practical choices about solving problems they advocate for practical solutions, and not ideological positions. Those ideological differences might make for good bumper stickers, but when push comes to shove Americans will look at the whole car, not just the bumper stickers.
Of course politics isn't the only place where leadership is so far out of touch with their people. Catholics need only look at the positions of the USCCB on things like birth control and gay marriage to see a very similar phenomenon. Perhaps this why Pope Francis want his leaders out amongst the sheep. In the main our shepherds, on some issues, can't even find the sheep much less lead them---and this brings me to a series of articles over at the British Catholic magazine The Tablet. They are running a breakdown of British Catholics and their attitudes towards various cultural and Catholic issues. The data is taken from a recent survey which asked very similar questions to the one the Vatican is promulgating. The Tablet's entire series is as mind blowing as the above article on US political attitudes, but one paragraph on authority is especially mind blowing:
"Catholics have also strayed from magisterial teaching when it comes to the issue of authority itself. When asked where they look for guidance in living their life and making decisions, over half of Catholics say their own reason, judgement, intuition or feelings, and another fifth say family or friends. More narrowly religious sources of authority are much less popular, even with churchgoers. The most cited is “tradition and teachings of the Church” (8 per cent), followed by God (7 per cent), the Bible (2 per cent) , the religious group to which a person belongs (2 per cent), and religious leaders, local or national (0 per cent).
Zero percent of British Catholics polled in this study look for guidance from their religious leadership. Zero percent. Is there any more damning a statement about the irrelevancy of leadership to the people they are supposed lead? When leadership across the spectrum is as out of touch with their people as these two stories illustrate it's time to put the ideological bull horns away and start listening to what the average Joe is really saying, because it isn't at all what the holders of the bull horns are preaching.