3 Points of Consideration (Sep 2012)

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been treated to numerous Republican partisan speeches followed by numerous Democratic partisan speeches.  With the exception of a few gems, most of it came across as noise to me.  As you reflect on the speeches and settle in to watch the President speak this evening, I’d like you to keep in mind a couple of things.
First, everyone keeps talking about the “middle class.”  Apparently they need alot of help.  But no one has offered to define what the “middle class” is.  Seriously.  Someone please show me, with clearly defined lower and upper income boundaries, what constitutes the middle class.  The fact is, it is an abstract concept that is very difficult to define.  If you ask 10 different people what the middle class is, you’ll get 10 different answers.   A family of four with a household income of $65K in suburbia is arguably middle class and if you asked them, they’d agree.  However, a dual-income couple with no kids (DINKs) that make $200K that live in a tiny apartment in manhattan probably feel the same way.  Is it really reasonable to try to create a blanket policy for this diverse group of people under the umbrella of “middle class”?
Second, a key policy point of the left is that the “rich” (again, another abstract concept) should pay their “fair share.”  Ok………sounds good, everyone can agree with fairness.  However, I would ask you to consider what is fair?  Is that a specific rate?  Is it progressive?  Flat? And the biggest question, who would be the arbiter of that “fairness?”  Because right now, it seems that the abstract concepts of “rich” and “fair” are being met with an equally abstract taxation policy, which is simply “more.”
Now, my liberal friends know me well enough to know that I understand, given our current situation, that revenue rises HAVE/HAVE to be part of the solution.  My point is simply that we should demand more specifics when we hear such empty platitudes.
Finally, a historical note.  If the current malaise is to be blamed on the previous administration, doesn’t it stand to reason that the prosperity of the 90s and early 2000s was a product of the laissez-faire free market policies of the Republican administrations from 80-92?
The truth is that the economy and the ship of state do not turn on a dime.  Just as a lot of today’s problems were caused primarily by the missteps of the George W. Bush administration in the form of returning the budget surplus he inherited to the people instead of paying down the debt and charging two wars on a credit card, the “good times” that Clinton gets the credit for were really a product of 12 years of Republican control of the white house and a cooperative congress.