It is unclear how it could have been much worse. The Texas Rangers reportedly have one of the best bullpens in major league baseball. They are leading 10-6, at home. It is the top of the ninth inning. The Texas Rangers and their fabulous bullpen give up five runs and end up losing to the Los Angeles Angels, 11-10. It was an epic failure. It is unclear how a team comes back from such a devastating loss.
Kevin McCarthy is running for John Boehner’s old job. He has made several recent television appearances which simply did not go that well. His speaking style is somewhat difficult to understand. I am not sure whether he has dyslexia or has word-finding difficulties or what. He is difficult to understand. I mean, he really cannot speak the English language. This begs the question, how did he get elected to Congress if he cannot communicate effectively? Personally, I find it sad that he cannot communicate. He did manage to mumble and bumble himself into a huge pickle when he stated that the Benghazi Committee was specifically formed in order to hurt Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.
There was a time when we really did not focus on failure in the United States. We could watch television and look for excellence. The Gong Show was the first show that I remember in which Americans would wait for contestants to fail. That was funny. That was riveting. Now, with reality TV, we look for people to fail all the time. Sure, American Idol can find some absolutely fabulous talent, but at the same time many Americans tune in to those early shows to watch folks crash and burn on national TV. There is this new show on the NFL network called Undrafted. In this show we follow NFL hopefuls. These folks were drafted and, for the most part, their prospects for making the NFL are somewhere between slim and none. I am sorry, but I do not find this compelling TV. I find it sad. On the Golf Channel, we can see the same type of thing. Web.com participants battle low-ranking PGA participants for 50 PGA cards. We can see young and up-and-coming golfers make it on the PGA tour but at the same time we can see somebody like Jhonattan Vegas, a one-time rising star who is battled injuries, struggle and then flame out.
I know that many Americans have moved on from the debates, but I’m stuck. Why? What the hell was all of that? 20? Why did we need 20 debates? Why couldn’t we ever get a format that really helped inform the American people about the issues that are facing our country? Why do we continually get these sound bite answers that can fit on a bumper sticker? How is that adequate? The debate process has been so inadequate, I would argue that it has actually detracted from our democracy. I would argue that we learned absolutely nothing except there’s actually a penalty for trying to answer a straight question with a straight answer. Nobody wants to hear a nuanced answer. We are living in the age of American Idol, Survivor and the Amazing Race. Thoughtful hard work gets you voted off the island. Instead, it was the sound bites that got all the applause. Newt Gingrich kept yammering on and on about how dangerous the world was – why couldn’t we have a serious discussion about the dangers that face the United States and how to combat those dangers? I simply don’t understand why we can’t have an intelligent discussion on television. The epitome of this mindless, childish and time wasting event was the one-word answer to describe yourself. Really? One word? What is this – the Dating Game? How does this 7th grade exercise help our democracy? How does this help you and I decide whether any these guys are qualified or have the right ideas to move the country forward?
Over the weekend, multibillionaire Warren Buffettwrote an op-ed in the New York Times. The op-ed is titled, “Stop Coddling the Superrich.” For over 150 years, Americans have idolized those who’ve accumulated large sums of money. Whether it’s the Carnegies or the Vanderbilts of yesteryear or the Bill Gates and the Warren Buffetts of today, we have always had a love-hate relationship. For some reason, we always believe that the superrich should act like that guy in the movie Wall Street.
We are shocked when somebody like Warren Buffett stands up and says that they need to pay their fair share. The reaction from the left was one of surprise. The reaction from the right was as furious and irrational as one would expect. In one discussion group that I’m a part of a staunch conservative stated, “If Buffett wants to pay more in taxes, why does he elect to get most of his income in the form of capital gains instead of salary??? That is TOTALLY within his control. Warren Buffett is an asshole and a jerk.” This of course is a typical response wherein you never really address the underlying issue in the debate and instead attack the messenger.
Mr. Buffett said, “Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.” He stated on a number of occasions that it is not fair for him to pay such a low percentage of his income while those in his office who may make considerably less pay higher taxes by percentage.
The problem in America is that everybody believes that they are just this close to becoming a millionaire. Maybe if they sing just a little bit better they can be on American Idol. Maybe if they danced just a little bit better they could be on America’s Got Talent. Maybe, just maybe, we can win the lottery. Being rich is the new American dream. We all believe that we are so close to making it big. The reality is that the vast majority of us are where we are. We may make a few thousand dollars more here or a few thousand dollars less there. We are not going to be millionaires. Therefore, we need to think differently. We need to consider that we are all in this together. We need for everybody to pay their part if we’re going to get out of this huge financial hole.
Finally, Warren Buffett has some advice for the new super Congress, “Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get. But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.” Now, that’s good advice. It is good for America. It is good for the middle class. It is good for you and me.