Our happiness not determined in D.C.


There’s a difference of opinion, it seems, on the exact nature of the apocalypse. It will occur either because of our “Do-Nothing Congress,” or because Congress actually does something.

Maybe both are true; it’s more likely, however, it’s all just election season rhetoric. We should all calm down and realize, once again, that if the world truly does end, it won’t be because of anything that happens in Washington, D.C. President Obama will probably read about the events in the news, and Congress will react by calling for hearings and subpoenaing the Four Horsemen — several months after the fact.

Still, here’s the latest apocalyptic warning:

“Let’s stop calling it a ‘do-nothing’ Congress,” says CNN’s Julian Zelizer. “For reporters and politicians who use it, the term is a cop-out. By doing nothing, Congress is actually doing a lot, though the consequences are not very pretty. Inaction can make things worse. And that’s exactly what’s happening now.”

That seems to be true only on issues the left seems concerned about, such as climate change.

“The stakes of failure to act on climate continue to grow,” Zelizer writes. “Respected scientists across the globe have documented the dangerous impact of our current business, environmental and energy practices and their role in enabling intolerable levels of greenhouse emissions. More carbon dioxide is getting pumped into the atmosphere, sea levels are rising, and more species are at risk.”

In fact, the United States is pumping far less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, sea level increases are decelerating, and there are many endangered species “success stories.”

Here’s the key question: What can Congress do that would make things better?

Congress has no power to force China or India to cut coal use, and those countries are the real drivers of the carbon problem. It’s simply not something the U.S. can solve on its own.

Zelizer adds “income inequality” to his list of things that are getting worse under a Do-Nothing Congress.

“There are many factors behind this development, but government policy has been one of them,” he writes. “Tax policies that give disproportionate relief to wealthier Americans and the failure to update and strengthen social safety net programs that benefit the disadvantaged have been major culprits.”

So his solutions are higher taxes (at least for the wealthy, which is always defined down), more spending on social programs, and more government “stimulus” spending.

Zelizer doesn’t get it. The best way to address income inequality is to ensure that people have an income to begin with. We need more jobs, not more government spending on items that have already proven to disappoint.

Of course we need a strong social safety net and appropriate government spending. But we also need people employed to pay for those things.

Evidence shows that what’s depressing job creation is uncertainty. Employers don’t know what Washington is going to throw at them next. And that’s only made worse by an activist Congress.

But by and large, Washington doesn’t determine our health, wealth and happiness. For those things, we look much closer to home.


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