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Words from Winterbilt

Common Sense, Curmudgeons & Politics

Shannon Bohrer

In our daily news and communications we seem to have developed habits and rules, although unwritten they exist. If your political perspectives are from the right, there are particular news forums that you listen to, watch or read. If you are on the left you have your favorite communication venues. It's as if we are in boxes that are labeled left and right. Are we in these boxes because of perspectives? Do we really believe everything that is in our boxes, or do the boxes define us?

One box that seems to be missing is the curmudgeons' perspective. A curmudgeon is anyone over 60 years of age that feels like they are over 60 years of age. Some people that are under 60 belong to curmudgeon clubs because they feel and act as if they are over 60. I personally believe that there are curmudgeon groupies that hang around curmudgeons just for the conversations and knowledge. Another trait is that curmudgeons tend to gather around watering holes, particularly ones that have good coffee. Good coffee often comes with a senior discount. When curmudgeons gather they have conversation, often about politics and they can always tell you why problems exist and how to solve them. You don't see this on television and you don't hear this on the radio.

I am very fortunate in that I belong to two curmudgeon clubs so I have the benefit of twice the knowledge. I should explain that to belong to a curmudgeon club, you don't pay any dues (except your life experiences) your name is not on any roster, there are no officers, patches or insignias and you are not expected to attend all of the meetings. Of course they are not really meetings, the herd just naturally gathers around the watering holes, the problems of the world are discussed and solutions are offered. I belong to one club at work and at lunch we discuss the world problems. We have several members of this club that are only in their early to mid 50's. It is interesting to watch and observe them. They often have very little to add to the conversation, probably just waiting for us to pass on real nuggets of knowledge. One game we often play at the end of lunch is to try and figure out how we got on the topic of conversation with which we ended. On most days we can do this. My other membership is with some former co-workers and we try to meet monthly. I am not bragging but belonging to two clubs probably gives me a mental advantage over the average person.

A constant topic at almost every meeting is politics and the economy. In the current economic environment; private industry has not behaved well and that's being polite about it. Of course our government has told us that the private industry spent all of the money. I thought the government did the same thing? It is rather amusing sometimes when politicians blame the other party and private enterprise for the countries troubles. Both parties are pointing at each other and private industry as being responsible for our problems - and no one wants to be responsible? You would think that the main stream media (why do they call it main stream?) would report this. Headline on the nightly news: The country is broke - the congress, the banks and big business spent all of the money.

"Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what's going
 to happen to us with both a Senate and a House?"
Will Rogers

The main stream media tend to only report the right and left and they ignore the rest of us. According to the media the Republicans want you to be self sufficient with smaller government and pay no taxes. The Democrats believe you should pay taxes and you should have entitlements. As was recently stated the Democrats are the party of tax and spend and the Republican are the party of no taxes but spend more. I see no reason why I can believe in parts of both systems. I would like all of the entitlements and I don't think I should pay any taxes! Sometimes I believe strongly both ways.

While curmudgeons are right, left and middle, personally I don't see either political party having the right solutions to the problems - that they helped create. Another issue I have is that both parties say one thing, but then they don't do what they say. The democrats are the liberals and they believe in taxes and spending, but with a balanced budget. Really, we have only had one balanced budget in the last 35 years and since a Democrat was in the White House you could say at least they believed in it once. Conversely the Republicans are conservative. They believe in smaller government, less taxes. And yet for the last 30 years, the government has grown under the Republicans and they did tax less - but they spent more. Probably because they were in office more!

For over 40 years our government leaders has promised to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I am glad that worked. At the same time every party in power was going to balance the budget and reduced the national debt. I am sure the debt has been reduced; the irresponsible press has probably neglected reporting it? I am sure that our leaders will address and fix these issues, or at least they will promise to fix them, just before the next election. The word "leaders" when used in the context of elected officials can be confusing.

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there
 is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress"
Mark Twain

If you listen or watch the news they can explain the complicated and involved issues regarding the economy, economic theories, stimulus packages, trade protections, financial regulations and what the federal system is doing to correct it. According to a recent poll of curmudgeons over 90 percent believe that our economic crises are because we spend too much money and we should stop.

I don't think that I am alone in my views, although my Republican friends call me a liberal and my Democratic friends think I am right wing - and I really don't understand what that means, it makes me think I am unbalanced. I do think the middle is a good place to be. While many of my friends are on one side or the other I feel more comfortable in the middle. Given that past performance is indicative of future performance, I am very optimistic that neither party will succeed. However, from my perspective the primary purpose of both parties is not to be in office and govern, but to keep the other party out so less damage can be done!

Recommended reading for people following governmental affairs, "On the Decay of the Art of Lying" by Mark Twain.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer