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Supercommittee, Influenza and Daze of Yore

by Knight Allen, NSC Director of Legislation
Published on  December 08, 2011 - reprinted with permission

     Have' you had enough of the "Supercommittee" and its colossal failure to do its job? I know I have. However, there is one aspect that does intrigue me.

  There are 535 Members of Congress (435 Representatives and 100 Senators). There were twelve members of the supercommittee. That means just about 98% of the Members were willing to completely cede their authority and responsibilities to 2% of their colleagues. Remember, the committee was not just charged with coming up with a solution to the government's financial morass and then present their program to the rest for review. They had the power to impose their solutions. No debate, no discussion thereby rendering the 98% totally irrelevant.

  Am I over reacting or was the supercommittee a brutal attack on a core concept of representative government like, uh, representation? What kind of people are we sending to Congress who see an opportunity to take themselves off the hook for the mess they have gotten us into by creating a “supercommittee”? Now they can go back to their constituents and say, with a straight face, it’s not their fault. They tried. The supercommittee failed..


  I was reading an article in the Sports section about Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, parents of Ravens coach John Harbaugh and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, Toward the end of the story it was reported that Jack, the father, who was a successful coach in his own right had never used his influence, never made any calls or hit up any of his friends or contacts to help his sons get a coaching job (LV RJ 11/23/11). The contrast between that approach and the " ... to the victor belong the spoils." mind set of certain powerful people is pretty darn stark. Which attitude towards power and position is better for the kids themselves and for the country as a whole?

  I've been watching an old (really old) TV show – Route 66 (1960-64). Do you remember it? Two guys hop into a Corvette and off they go in search of adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgic trip but it made me a little melancholy too. Almost everywhere they went, all over the country there was heavy industry. Factories, mills and assembly lines turning out real products and paying good wages; America was a manufacturing colossus. Where did that go? I know we still build things but the manufacturing base as a percentage of our GDP today compared to then? It just seems a little sad. So, with apologies to Margaret Mitchell:

There once was a land of blue collar workers, of steel mills and factories and manufacturing plants. A land of smoke stacks and hard work well paid. Of captains of industry and powerful industrial unions. Of hard hats and lunch pails. Of opportunities for a comfortable middle class life for anyone, regardless of education, willing to work.

  Look for it now only in books or old TV shows for it is no more than a dream remembered, A civilization gone with the wind.

  Our ability to grow and adapt; to face the enormous challenges constantly thrown at us and to not only survive but prosper is a tribute to the miracle we are human beings.

With that in mind I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a great 2012.

  Knight can be reached at: