Compromise is not a four letter word

I listened to President Obama last night and then I listened to House Speaker Boehner. As they finished their speeches I turned off the radio and thought about some of the word choices they made and themes they spoke of.

The single largest word that I heard either directly or indirectly was “compromise.” It was talked about as if it was a bad thing. I get that, compromise can be bad… but is it always bad?

Which of us goes a day without compromising? Can any of us go an hour without compromising?

As I drove to work this morning I thought about this word and felt myself compromising as I thought of it. I wanted to drive 90MPH but didn’t. I compromised and drove 78MPH. The essence of that simple act stayed with me. Driving requires awareness of others, adherence to driving standards and reaction to others actions. Driving requires compromise.

The word compromise, like so many in Washington, has been spun to mean something else entirely. That, by itself, isn’t a bad thing. But when the spin starts to risk our children’s future such spinning becomes reckless.

Very. very, very few things in life are so absolute that we get 100% of what we want 100% of the time. Marriage involves compromise. Working with and for others involves compromise. Raising children involves compromise. Etc.

Democracies involve compromise.

Or to put it another way… the form of government with no compromise is called a dictatorship.

The ongoing posturing from both sides is disheartening. Sure we can chalk up a large percent of it as partisan pandering and media grandstanding. But at some point my patience runs out.

Politicians are put in office to represent the populous and the interests of this country. As the world seems to be waking up to the value of democracy and representational government the United States’ flavor of democracy seems to be running on empty. Literally.

Comments

10 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Christopher Neetz,

    Laugh out loud. Compromise happens when their isn’t a ruling/bullying party to stick their fingers in their ears and stomp their feet on the ground when they don’t get their way. It only takes a few seconds to Google “corporate tax cuts job growth” to learn everything you need to know about the theft of the America to international corps. This isn’t two side objection, and the president couldn’t be stern enough. Between selling land for pennies on the dollar to energy companies, to monstrosity that the uncontested government contracting has become, there is no compromise us; you know, the people. Remember, corporations are people now and have more rights than all of us combined.

    • jmoriarty,

      Thanks for the dialog Christopher. To me it feels like both sides are sticking their fingers in their ears and stomping their feet on the ground (it’s not just one side).

  2. Stephen,

    I agree that to live is to compromise. Yet, there comes a time when compromise can bring destruction. I think we have reached that time with our nation’s debt. To compromise by raising the debt limit without corresponding spending cuts, will inevitably bring about our own financial destruction as a nation. I say, don’t compromise our national future by encouraging a continuation of Washington’s insatiable appetite for spending by raising the debt limit. It’s time to draw a line in the sand, and stop the borrowing! We don’t have a national revenue problem, we have a liberal spending problem.

    • jmoriarty,

      So is destruction tied to the increase of the national debt but not defaulting for the first time in history. IMO destruction happens regardless. I totally agree with you there MUST be spending cuts. Must be. And at least corresponding spending cuts. That said I also think there needs to be new revenue sources. These things said I totally disagree with the “liberal spending program.” The government has grown massively under both parties… massively. Suggesting that’s a “liberal” issue is simply wrong. We, sadly, haven’t had many Republicans in the last few decades that adhered to the rhetoric of smaller government… the government has grown regardless of who was in office.

      • Stephen,

        To me, “liberal” is a word I would use to describe anyone who habitually spends more money than they receive. So regardless of which party does the spending (and Republicans as well as Democrats have been habitual spenders, growing the size of government), we do have a “liberal spending problem.” To be sure, some corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes, and perhaps even some of those who are very wealthy should too, but I still say, we don’t have a revenue problem in this country. The government receives enough revenue to do all we need to do for the welfare of the people. The reason we are in this mess now, is because, for years we have spent far more than we have received (we currently borrow $.40 of every $1.00). Please tell me what other business could survive such irresponsible management of revenue? It’s time to stop this foolishness. Compromise on the debt limit, without real, massive spending cuts, will just encourage more spending. Such irresponsible compromise at this stage is a four-letter word!

  3. jmoriarty,

    Stephen, you said “To me, ‘liberal’ is a word I would use to describe anyone who habitually spends more money than they receive.” I think I understand your intent with that statement but I’m guessing George W Bush (Karl Rove, etc) would be pretty insulted by that labeling as they absolutely fall into your definition. IMO we have both a revenue problem and a spending problem. I hear your point in suggesting there is potentially more of a spending problem (when any entity spends more than they make… it’s fixable by spending less). I think to label that a “liberal” or “conservative” problem is (again IMO) simply misusing those labels as it would be hard for me to pick a politician in DC that hasn’t participated/benefited by the spending growth. Lastly, and this is something I don’t hear a lot of American’s talking about, cuts are… cuts. Cuts don’t happen to others, they happen to all of us. Cuts DO mean less jobs, less infrastructure, etc. I’m actually good with that… like you, I want those cuts.

  4. Lash,

    Jimbo….I love this. I am so glad you have this blog and what a great topic. The career politicians in Washington can talk all they want about compromise. The reason we don’t have a solution is due to the difficulty of the problem,. The economy is now so tied to the federal government that everywhere they turn on the “cut” side of the equation, consequences to their political careers arise. In living in the tax world virtually my whole career, I can tell you that you simply can’t just taxing the acheivers of our society. Too few of the population pay far too much in taxes in proportion to the total income taxes paid. I agree with your thought that other revenue is needed. We should be headed toward a national sales tax (or value added tax) but it should also include a reduction in income tax rates on the acheivers and a broader tax with fewer dedections so that every citizen has some skin in the game. The latest statistics from the IRS show that in 2008, 8% of the population of tax filers made over $ 100,000; yet they paid 71% of the total taxes collected that year. As the boomers age and retire and the next generation, which is smaller in numbers, comes along. There will be less acheivers in absolute numbers to feed the monster that is the federal budget. Stephen is right on the expense side. It’s time to stop the massive spending.

    I miss rapping with you on the big issues of the day and our Hamilton/Jefferson debates.

    • jmoriarty,

      Jeff, I’d love few things more than to have a continuation of our conversations of years past. The more I know about Hamilton the more I like Jefferson. 😉

      • Lash,

        We need more dealmakers like Jefferson. Consumated Louisiana Purchase with France (approx 15 current U.S. states) for $ 200 million in current dollars. That is a deal and changed U.S. destiny forever.

  5. MM,

    I am surprised that Stephen and Lash have forgotten so soon that bush 2 ran up the unprescedented debt, but then again as a leader he was very forgettable. Yea, now I recall, Mission Accomplished! Very few people walked away after his terms with pockets full of money. So I do agree with you on this, that it is high time we stop spending like that republican!

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