Dueling Twins

Excess

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The 'Dueling Twins'

Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.
Plato

Counterpoint:

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Excess in The Name of Security
 
James Hall, From the Left

One can't argue with the charge that too much is too much.  The devil, of course, is always in the details.  After September 11, extraordinary efforts ought to be made to tighten security and go after the terrorists whose goal is the destruction of our way of life. The risk is that we'll go too far and alter our own lives so drastically that the terrorists will have won anyway.  Or that we'll make all kinds of changes in the name of national security that aren't really security, and therefore cheapen our real national security.

Both, unfortunately, are now happening.  The Patriot Act and President Bush's executive order creating military tribunals both overstepped what was necessary.  But since the Patriot Act has a sunset provision and the executive order can be countermanded by the president at any time, neither need be permanent.  Concentrating on the immigration and naturalization laws already on the books, with improved communication between law enforcement organizations will do a lot to reduce the chance of hidden Al Qaeda cells within the United States.  So will improved cooperation between the US and the concerned nations of the world.

Abroad, the situation is much simpler.  After Afghanistan, nations will think twice about opening their borders to terrorists.  The right amount of military force was applied, and the superiority of American military power, even in some of the most difficult terrain in the world, was clearly demonstrated.  As a result, so long as we keep our eyes open and remain willing to act, we should expect diminishing problems overseas.

It's here at home that the major struggle against excessive laws and political maneuvering in the name of nation security has to be fought.  A good example is the present battle over the economic stimulus package.  On one side are Republicans, who want to give a $20 billion package of tax breaks to a few of the richest corporations--firms like IBM, GE, Enron.  On the other side are Democrats who are putting in farm subsidies and the cost of cleaning poultry waste.  Both sides are claiming that the giveaways are for national security reasons.  They're nothing but paybacks for special interests.

But Congress isn't the only one responsible for this kind of excess.  In the name of national security, the Bush administration now tells us that we need to pursue drilling in the Rocky Mountains, Gulf of Mexico, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Clearly there exists no real national security threat here, no dangerous energy shortage--if there was, the administration would give equal time to energy conservation measures like raising CAFE standards on automobiles and putting renewed emphasis on alternative sources of energy like solar and wind power.  It would pursue both sides of the energy equation, supply and demand.

Instead of leadership on real issues of national security, we see what amounts to a payoff to the energy industry in the name of national security.  This sort of thing can only generate an atmosphere of cynicism, and push the nation to the point where we come to distrust reasonable measures to improve our nation's security.

The proper way to avoid this kind of excess is to get both parties to work more closely together.  The best work done since September 11 has been done through agreement and negotiation with both sides.  Left to their own devices, each party will package its own list of political goals in Red, White, and Blue.  Americans should insist that our Congress and our president work together during this period of conflict and resolve their differences through negotiation, and not by making false attributions to our home defense.

Once we've fought the good fight against terrorism, we can go back to our partisan battles, and justify our excesses as we will. But while at war, it behooves both Congress and the Bush administration to avoid couching partisan issues in patriotic terms. Our real national security requires the real truth.

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Final Word:

I think we all know excessive action when we see it.  Our politicians in Washington have a tendency to underestimate the people's intelligence--we frequently see through their shows of busyness and cosmetic efforts to understand that what they're up to is to ensure their reelection.  Let's spend less on time on political theater, Washington, and more time on fixing the holes in our homeland security--things like airline security, improved oversight over immigration and naturalization, and intelligence gathering that anticipates problems.

The reality is that we don't need shows of legislative action and law-passing.  At a time when our nation has been and is under attack, we need substantial efforts at the grassroots level of government.  We're going to fail to reach the level of baggage scrutiny demanded in 60 days by the Airline Security Act.  Why?  We've had several terrorist "alerts" that came to nothing.  Why?  We've yet to uncover the person or person's behind the infecting of our mail system with anthrax.  Why?  Americans need to ask these questions of our leaders and spur them into real action, not politicial rhetoric.  Get the job done, Washington, and stop the babbling.

Sorry about Enron, Sartre--hope you didn't lose your shirt on that one.  Enron's a classic example of the dangers of mismanagement.  It lied about its financial situation and investors lost confidence in its management.  As Sartre points out, it's the employees of Enron who will suffer, not the managers floating down to a soft landing in a golden parachute.  We must not permit the mismanagement of terrorism to lead to widespread attacks, loss of lives, and the faltering of our economy and way of life.  If that happens, it's the American people who will lose, not our protected politicians in Washington.

It's up to us then, to demand more of our leaders.  We must urge them to stop playing politics during a crisis.  Forget the window dressing, and focus on improving matters in airports and mailboxes.  Catch the perpetrators of these terror attacks and bring them to justice.  The best way to deal with excess is success.

James Hall, From the Left

Point:

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Excess as a Way of Life

The most notable consensus that has emerged from the aftermath of the war on terror, is the willingness to throw money at a problem that has never been defined with precision. This attitude may not be shared with all the public, but the professional class of politicians and bureaucrats are walking in lock step to the beat of the same drummer.

The power that is dispensed from governments, is so often based upon their ability to spend public funds, on programs of their grand design. Has anyone heard where all this money to save the world, is going to come from? In the face of a weak economy, we are all confronted with the prospects of hidden taxes emerging from the ashes of recent attempts to tame the appetite of this beast. Yes, this Phoenix is not just a mythical monster, but is an idol to the manner and policies of government control.

Crisis allows the opening of the flood gates to the next level of State expansion. Some will say that the threat is so obvious and imminent that any debate on the current course of action is just silly. Well, after the remnants of the WTC are removed, what remains will never closely resemble the restored way of life that existed previously.

Is this the goal we want and should seek? Isn't excess nothing more than exceeding the normal? What was universally accepted as normal, is not remembered fondly, as the way things used to be. Excess has overtaken the culture as a permissible alternative. You saw the workings of this disease in the equity bubble, and now you are going to pay for the real consequences, from the criminal actions of a small group of zealots. The usual counter weight to excess is balance. But this commodity has been in short supply, for much longer than the last few weeks.

Apologists for the present condition, are satisfied with their particular benefits from the system. Their fear is that the gravy train will be withheld from them, and that a little excess is just fine, if it improves the prospects that their personal situation will be protected. Sentiment for the traits in a phony security, seems to be just what the public wants and is willing to accept. Spend more public funds to rebuild, it will restore the familiar. Expend more tax dollars to revamp air travel, it will relieve our fears. And dispense greater sums on integrating law enforcement, so that any inhabitant can be monitored, if deemed to question the efforts of this mission.

True security is never based upon the excess of good intentions. Nor is it enhanced by the expansions of flawed methods. Safety and peace of mind is not accomplished by throwing money at a problem. Intelligent planning can only achieve results when the problem is defined correctly. Exposed for all to see, are the proposals of the entire political apparatus! Billions and billions, no longer, is real money. Any pork barrel project can be resurrected and tacked onto the next appropriation bill if its wording includes security measures. Spend more and grow the bureaucracy larger! Federalize every aspect, while the climate is favorable. Excess is the virtue that government knows best.

The culture that condones such practices has lost its ability to shape its own future. Are we so timid and afraid, that we are willing to embrace bigger government as the necessary price for trusting the masters of excess? If this is really war, where are the divisions protecting the home front? Government spending into oblivion will not remove hatred from the next cadre of terrorists, nor will it eliminate another succeeding round of attacks.

Belief in Excess allows this deception to go forward. Objectives that are correct and needed, are lost in the process of incompetence. The systemic failure of the public sector to provide the most fundamental functions, is obvious to all who accept reality. Only the defenders of the 'Statist Cult', deny the undeniable.

The best example that illustrates excess in the face of uncontrollable expenditures is the effort to roll back the AMT, Alternative Minimum Tax for corporations. Rebates that would send refunds back to 1986 for the largest companies? Billions and billions more for the buddies of the political class is the biggest 'golden fleece' award of all times. Benefits of the greatest excess are always saved for the friends of the system. The lesson is clear, as George Bush stated : You are with US, or you are against us . . .  This mindset extends far beyond a warning to other nations. It applies to all citizens, especially those who strive to restore a sense of prudent restraint, upon the captains of the industry/government axis.

Since excess extends to every area of behavior, why not devote some of your energies to taming this legendary bird, a beast that resides far from the Phoenix region that bears its name. The nesting place is foggy bottom. This is one bird that deserves to be relegated to extinction. Excess is the food that keeps it alive, and it looks that this species has started to multiply again. Open season needs to be year round. What is your excuse for boycotting this hunting trip? Spending all your time in the comfort of the blind will not get you the shoot! It only keeps you temporarily warm, and allows you to be sightless to the vice of excess.

James Hall aka SARTRE

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Rebuttal:

Amazing what a dose of medicine will do for even the most disturbed! The 'bad seed' can even sound reasonable when the topic is a self evident truth. If only this same insight could be applied to subjects that have greater intuitiveness, into the state of society. Balance should be the normal standard, but to achieve this objective it often takes radical initiatives. Why so? Because there are so many confused citizens who buy into the scam that the government is your friend. Proponents of the Left, usually side with the central organizational structure, that government represents. Their trust is placed upon the expectation that society is best directed by full time meddlers. Labels of Right, frequently produce the claims that resist this tendency, while accepting passive enlargement of the tumor, that is known as government.

Want proof? What a difference a day makes . . .  HELLO - Enron just went into the tank in the most dramatic manner in memory. They sure qualify as one of the richest corporations, today; don't they? This is a good example why the entire guise that commonly passes as 'Capitalism', seems so puzzling; while being quite simple. Does anyone think that the assets of this company will disappear. Of course not, but the equity of the share holders has evaporated into the ether zone, like magic.

The Statists will see that the worse that Enron management will suffer is but a bump in the road of their careers. Reorganization is the theme that always is used to justify bureaucratic intervention and existence. Never point the finger at a system that allows real assets and hard working employees to be discarded into the task bin, while the infrastructure of the company passes into the control of the next opportunists.

Yes; 'Excess' rules not only Washington, but has a comfortable home on Wall Street, as well. The cynicism that James fears, is and should be; the routine condition that the public views bureaucratic systems. The terror that is systemic, is undoubtedly home grown. And security can only be found if you are willing to understand the root causes of its germination. A real patriotic act, would extend to weeding out the abuses that allow these mistreatments, as the way the system works and the culture accepts.

James Hall - 'The Right'


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