We wish you a joyous and safe Fourth of July weekend holiday, with plenty of family, friends, fireworks, and good eats!
And as a mark of (vaguely) good news to roll into the weekend, the unemployment rate fell in June from 9.7% to 9.5%. The fall is the result of a unique trade-off, as over 200,000 jobs were lost as those temporarily hired by the Census were released from their positions. But the private sector also added 83,000 to bring about the slight reduction in overall unemployment. Though good news, arguments over continuing unemployment benefits, in the midst of other budgetary concerns, might prove to be the debate of the next couple of election cycles: what IS ‘small government’?
The political fallout of the unemployment figures for June might best be found in the fact that unemployment benefit package will cost $34 billion and will serve as (Does anyone expect the long-term unemployed to take their check and invest it in a Goldman Sachs collateralized debt portfolio?), whereas the US presence in Afghanistan and Iraq cost double that EACH, it is really difficult to see a small-government/conservative consistency to the Republicans’ arguments. Indeed, many pundits on the left have pointed out this inconsistency.to extend unemployment benefits. The political argument largely pertains to arguments about balancing the budget, but when the
If you would like to hear a particularly engaging debate about whether Republicans are for small government or for small government for the things they do not personally profit from, may we suggest the podcasts of 18 and 25 June from “Left, Right, and Center” from KCRW Public Radio (Santa Monica, CA)? Harry Scheer of TruthDig.com and Tony Blankley of the Washington Post (and often, though not in these particular podcasts, Arianna Huffington of TheHuffingtonPost.com) square off on recent events in the Gulf and at the G-20 meeting. In these particular episodes, though, Scheer (of the Left/quasi-Libertarian) and Blankley (of the Right) get into a heated debate about what is truly ‘big government’ and what is ‘big government to benefit me.’ Blankley is a thinking-man’s conservative, to be sure, and without political ambitions (he would like to see BP pay for all the damages caused in the Gulf, for example). His defense of where government can be ‘big’ yet ‘small’ is worth considering, even if one ends up disagreeing with his overall position.
The discussions offer excellent food-for-thought on this Independence Day weekend, and an intellectual counterweight to that third piece of apple pie (we’re not saying don’t eat that third piece!). For our part, we remind you that we are celebrating a revolution, a willingness to sever ties with our divinely appointed/Parliamentary approved monarch. To kill or die for the rights of “We the People…” The rights enshrined refer time and again to the individual (admittedly, a muddled term in a document that silently allowed slavery and assumed women were not capable of political thought). Not to the corporation or to the political party. Think about that while lighting your favorite firework.