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Look Up, Americans—it’s not as bad as you think 


V-Lee-Hamilton-webBy Lee H. Hamilton

We are one glum country.

Trust in the federal government is at historic lows, according to Gallup. More than half of the respondents to an October Rasmussen poll think our best days are behind us. And just a few weeks ago, an NBC/Wall St. Journal poll found that the one thing Americans agree upon, whatever their race or circumstances, is that the system is stacked against people like them.

I have just one thing to say to this: could we all take a deep breath?

We deal with our challenges from a position of strength. We have friendly neighbors to the north and south, oceans to the east and west, and a growing, relatively young population. We possess abundant natural resources, the world’s most capable military force, a nuclear arsenal second to none, and a deterrent power envied by every other country on earth.

We’re doing better economically than any other major industrialized nation, and have put more people back to work since the recovery began than the rest of the industrialized world combined. Our people possess strengths in abundance. We have a remarkable reservoir of talent and a strong entrepreneurial tradition that nurtures inventiveness and draws countless people from abroad eager to make something of their future. Does that sound like a once-great nation on its knees?

I’m not blind to our shortcomings or to the severe challenges we confront. If you read this column regularly, you know that. But in the face of extraordinary difficulties, we adapt, persevere, and eventually emerge stronger. In the end, government may act slowly, and it’s often well behind where you’d wish it to be, but it does act.

All these things give our society a resilience to keep in mind the next time you see a news story or commentary hyping a pessimistic view of our future. We have a long way to go, there’s no doubt about it. But I’m reminded of a young woman a few years ago who asked me, after a bleak speech I’d given laying out the problems of the world, “Is there any hope?” My answer now is the same as it was then: Yes, of course there is.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Roger on Main StreetDeadline

The federal government has borrowed all the money Congress has allowed. If we don’t raise the debt limit, we can’t pay our bills and down goes America’s credit rating. Sounds like my VISA account.
The federal debt situation shouldn’t be a surprise. The U.S. started two wars “on the cuff.” The previous Congress didn’t even include those tens of $billions in the budget (so as not to bother our pretty little heads about it, I guess). But didn’t anybody think the bills might come due? Instead of raising tax money, we got the “Bush tax cuts,” the first time in history our country has gone to war while also cutting taxes. Ignoring the bills does not mean they go away. Every family knows this problem.

Drive-in service

The elderly priest, speaking to the younger one, said, “It was a good idea to replace the first four pews with plush bucket theater seats. It worked like a charm. The front of the church always fills first now.”
The young priest nodded, and the old priest continued, “And you told me adding a little more beat to the music would bring young people back to church, so I supported you when you brought in that rock ‘n roll gospel choir. Now our services are consistently packed to the balcony.”
“Thank you, Father. I’m pleased that you are open to the new ideas of youth.”
“All these ideas have been well and good,” said the elderly priest, “but I’m afraid you’ve gone too far with the drive-through confessional.”
“But, Father,” protested the younger one, “my confessions and the donations have nearly doubled since I started that!”
“Yes,” said the elderly priest, “and I appreciate that. But the flashing neon sign, ‘Toot ’n Tell or Go to Hell’ cannot stay on the church roof.’”

Too much work

A friend claims his son is so lazy he won’t empty the trash in the computer bin.

Call 911

Joe sets up his friend Mike on a blind date with a young lady-friend of his. But Mike’s a little worried about going out with someone he’s never seen before. “What do I do if she’s really unattractive?” he asks. “I’ll be stuck with her all night.”
“Don’t worry,” Joe says. “Just go up to her door and meet her first. If you like what you see, then everything goes as planned. If you don’t, just shout ‘Aaaaaauuuggghhh!’ and fake an asthma attack.”
So that night, Mike knocks at the girl’s door and when she comes out he is awe-struck at how attractive and sexy she is. He’s about to speak when the girl suddenly shouts: “Aaaaaauuuggghhh!”

Makes sense

“Mary,” asks Dawn thoughtfully one day, “what would you do if you caught your husband with another woman?”
“Another woman with my husband?” Mary thinks it over. “Let’s see; I’d break her cane, shoot her guide dog, and call a cab to take her back to the institution she escaped from.”

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