Another year has passed and we are in the middle of the High Holy Day season. Last year at this time, I confessed my sin of anger in a column titled “Arguments for the sake of truth, not ‘victory’” (Sept. 15, 2010).
I hoped that I would exhibit less anger. I tried, but last week I failed. A head of steam has been building for a while, accelerating over the past two months. A remark was made and I responded.
It might come as a surprise to many people that I am basically shy and retiring by nature. For the longest time I found it difficult to speak up for myself and, in certain environments, it still is.
The rant of Network’s Mad Prophet of the Airwaves, Howard Beale, struck a responsive chord. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
Therapists will tell you that depression is anger turned inward. To avoid depression, you should express your anger, preferably at the object of your anger. But to whom do you express your anger when the object of your anger is a concept, a movement, an institution, or a series of events which affect you personally? You go against proxies, such as those who support the concept or movement.
Like many others, I have been adversely affected by the current economic situation. This creates a constant tension which will not be relieved, until the general economic environment, and mine specifically, is improved.
I do not understand the economic policies of the Obama administration. In less than three years, the national debt has increased a bit under $4 trillion. The administration admits that the first stimulus package did not create jobs or turn around the economy and that it did not know what “shovel ready” meant. Nevertheless, it wants another round of stimulus spending.
The President’s proposed American Jobs Act, which he hectors Congress to “pass this bill now,” was only introduced a week ago in the House and has no cosponsors in either the House or Senate.
The administration pushes for the “rich” to pay their “fair share.” It proudly points to Warren Buffett and the “Buffett Rule” as to how this should be accomplished. As proposed by the administration, the rich refers to anyone with an income over $200,000, which includes a great number of small businesses, one of the major sources of jobs. More money to the government means less available for employment.
Even Buffet has distanced himself from the Buffett Rule, saying that he did not mean tax restructuring should go down to the $200,000 level. Besides, Buffet and his company, Berkshire Hathaway, are locked in a dispute over whether the company owes $1 billion in back taxes to the government.
In April, The Wall Street Journal did an exercise — what if the top tax rate was 100 percent? For 2008, the latest year for which data are available, the top 1 percent of taxpayers, with salaries, dividends, and capital gains roughly above about $380,000, paid 38 percent of taxes. A 100 percent top rate would yield “merely about $938 billion, which is sand on the beach amid the $4 trillion White House budget, a $1.65 trillion deficit, and spending at 25 percent as a share of the economy, a post-World War II record.”
Would this improve investment and hiring in the American economy? Even the taxpayer bailed-out General Motors is shifting taxpayer financed technology development of its Volt electric car to China, along with production, in order to qualify for subsidies in the domestic Chinese car market.
This week, in an interview, Roseanne Barr, who supports the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, advocated the Pol Pot solution to capitalism, advocating the return of the guillotine (seriously) for the worst of the worst. The wealthy should pay back all personal wealth over $100 million. If they are unable to live on that, they should go to reeducation camps, and if that doesn’t work, they should be beheaded.
My other burning issue is Israel. Virtually everyone of note seems to be asking Israel to make existential compromises with the Palestinians.
Some have advocated that Israel should support the Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence at the UN in order to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Tom Friedman, sensing that this is the last chance for a two-state solution, wants Israel to suspend settlement construction on the hope that the Palestinians will negotiate.
On Sunday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the region, threatening its security, without offering new thoughts on the thorny issues that have stymied the peace talks.
Charles Krauthammer had a correct assessment of the situation in his Friday column. For over half a century, the Palestinian strategy has been to eradicate Israel. “Sovereignty with no reciprocal recognition of a Jewish state. Statehood without negotiations. An independent Palestine in a continued state of war with Israel.” To Krauthammer, land without peace in the Palestinian context is “an invitation to national suicide.”
Responding to the question of the Old Philosopher, that’s some of what’s troubling me, and following his advice, I am trying to “never give up that ship.”
Hence, the anger.
In the spirit of Yom Kippur, if this, or any of my other columns, has offended you, I ask for your forgiveness. G’mar hatima tova.