Americans are now in a global economy. We're citizens of the world. We're engaged in delicate diplomacy made all too apparent Wikileaks. Our markets are complex. Foreign markets are complex. Economics are complex. Communications are complex.
In the last century, we went from the horse and buggy, to the Y2K buggy.
Over 300 million people live in this country. A collection of recent and not-so-recent immigrants (and some native peoples) with many different ideas brought together in a participatory government –– a relatively new experiment in human history. The financial meltdown of 2008 made us all aware of how vulnerable and intricate our economy is. People making nothing were shockingly still earning tons of money. Morality aside –– there are some serious issues with the fact that such a thing is even possible.
The only difference between a pirate and a buccaneer is a note from the King. The financial crisis is so involved we don't even know who was wearing a white hat and who was wearing a black one. Who to hate and who to cheer? Who knows?
It's complicated. Very.
My mechanic is, for all intents and purposes, a computer programmer in coveralls. So why can't politicians stop hawking only "simple solutions?"
"I have a fundamental problem with any 1,000-page bills," said Senator David Vitter last year, during the health care debate.
China is about to pass us as the world's largest economy, they already beat us in student test scores, but the main thing to be concerned about is that bills have too many pages? There's some misplaced skepticism.
I understand how anything "simple" seems better than having a conversation about insurance hedging for exotic derivatives, and how that forced your neighborhood dry cleaner out of business. But it's condescension when politicians can't have a reasonable discussion about real issues without bleating out some melba-toast bromides.
This week on "Face the Nation," Senator Jon Kyl was asked about holding up the START Treaty with Russia. This treaty not only reduces the number of nuclear warheads in our arsenal (and the cost of maintaining said warheads), but also allows us to keep an eye out for "loose nukes." When asked if he was against the ratification of the treaty, instead of answering yes or no, the Senate Minority Whip dodged the question with, "I'll make my views clear about whether I support or oppose the treaty." And then, he winked.
Yes, when faced with the fragile issue of our post-Cold War relationship with Russia, Senator Kyl –– who's holding up our ability to "verify" our former enemy's arsenal –– was coy and then … winked.
But Kyl was very clear about wanting the Bush Tax Cuts to be renewed.
See? Complex issue? Dodge. Call for tax cuts.
Yes, it's simple. Just cut taxes. Calling for tax cuts to balance the budget is like shaving your legs, because you need a haircut. Not all problems are simple. But all our solutions have to be monosyllabic: wink.
So the question is: Does Kyl understand the issues we face as a country? Or does he just not concern himself with them?
Whatever the case, it's putrid to draw a paycheck, take an oath and still not do your job.
Louisiana Governor BobJindal has a simple solution for that: Make congress a part-time job. In a recent op-ed, Jindal wrote about the founding of the nation, "Back then, farmers would literally leave their fields and go to legislate in our nation's capital."
Hold on –– Congress, the most shallow, petty, bickering body of ineffective air-suckers is –– wait for it –– too professional?! Jindal also celebrates the "do-nothing" Congress of the storied Harry Truman era, while not bothering to mention the "do-even-less" 109th Congress –– in 2006.
Yes, be like them. Do nothing, like the founders intended, and then go home to your farms fueled slaves somewhere in one of the 13 colonies. Simple!
Farming is even too complex these days to ever be a part-time profession. Let alone making laws.
There's another word for "simple solution."
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the editor of Fishbowl.