A Philosopher's Blog

Disapproval of Congress

Posted in Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 6, 2011


While some claim that Americans are more divided than ever before, there is one matter on which we stand strongly united. In our disapproval of congress, 82% (or more) Americans stand shoulder to shoulder, with looks of disgust on the faces above those shoulders.

Congress, obviously enough, brought this on itself. The icing on the disapproval cake seems to have been the latest round of debates over the debt ceiling. While Americans do disagree over spending and taxes, we mainly seem to agree that we do not want our country brought to the very edge of default. As such, one reason for the disapproval is that congress is perceived as being willing to wrangle over critical matters right up until it is almost too late. That sort of behavior is generally not appealing to most people.

Of course, such behavior would be understandable and forgivable if the wrangling was over a critical matter and perhaps as important or more important than meeting a deadline. However, the battle in congress seems to have been a fight over scoring political points rather than doing what is best for the country. To use an analogy, congress was fighting over whether to steer a little left or a little right while the ship of state was heading directly towards an iceberg. While the direction of the ship does matter, what really matters the most is not hitting that iceberg.

Another reason for the disapproval regarding this matter is that most Americans seem to be more concerned about jobs rather than deficit reduction. If we need to spend more to sustain and create jobs and restore the economy, then this seems to be something most Americans favor. Congress, for all its talk of jobs, does not seem as concerned as it should be about this matter. Going back to the ship analogy, if the ship is caught in a storm, it can make sense to burn more fuel to get out of that storm and into port. Once the ship is back in calm waters, then the worry about the cost of fueling the ship can move back up the priority list.

Another point of concern is that the behavior of congress makes us look bad. The news was filled with stories about how America might default, how we might lose our AAA credit rating, and how congress seemed intent on wrangling rather than resolving.  This made us seem like we were incapable of getting things done, even in the face of necessity. That is, most Americans rightfully hold, not how we should appear.

Given what Americans think of congress, it seems reasonable to infer that Americans in general are not as partisan as the members of congress and that we have different priorities then they do. In short, they do not actually seem to be properly representing us. Of course, we elected them and the beauty of democracy is that people get the government they deserve. As such, we seem to really dislike what we have created and hence we should probably think about this when it comes time to vote again.

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 6, 2011 at 8:19 am

    You’re absolutely correct. The US Congress does not represent the People, it represents special interests. Period. There is no democracy in America. Our vote counts for nothing. In fact the voting system itself is rigged, from special interest monies to electronic voting machine fraud. We have been disenfranchised and there is nothing we can do about it except abolish the current government and institute new government, as per the Declaration of Independence. Todays headline states we have lost our triple A credit rating and I am not at all surprised. Things will only get worse before they get better and things will only get better when good people stand up to the evil–and there is no other word for this but evil–in Washington and take our nation back for the people. For example, there is PLENTY of work to be done in America, despite what Washington says. Cut off trade with China and make our products at home. Light manufacturing in the USA would be a boon both to blighted urban ghettos and dying rural towns. Our highways, roads, and bridges are in desperate need of repair but all Washington needs to do is to federalize all US and Interstate highways and hire the crews (at prevailing, living, wages) to get the job done. The reason Washington won’t do this is because they use the federal highway funding to the states as a way to extort the states to do their will regarding issues not related to highways at all. End the wars, which cost $1 billion per day, according to what I have been told,personally, by a US Army colonel at the US Army War College. People have completely lost faith and confidence in the US government and it is beginning to show. This, too, will only grow worse. The truth about 9/11 is coming out, that our own government along with Israel (Washington’s most special interest “group” perpetrated 9/11 and blamed it on the Muslims. This, too, we have from a source at the US Army War College, and it is 100% certain. Washington is collapsing and we need to prepare for the worst. Please see: http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/an-urgent-warning-the-situation-in-washington-is-far-worse-than-i-imagined/

  2. T. J. Babson said, on August 6, 2011 at 10:56 am

    “Going back to the ship analogy, if the ship is caught in a storm, it can make sense to burn more fuel to get out of that storm and into port.”

    On the other hand, if you are pointed in the wrong direction then burning all of your fuel doesn’t help. You first need to turn around.

    • Wtp said, on August 6, 2011 at 11:10 am

      the perfesser’s analogies only work so long as they support his pov, TJ. they break down into inert gasses before you can make any use of them.

    • ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

      I agree with a 180 degree turn around

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Quite right. If the ship is pointed at, say a whirlpool, then going full speed ahead would be very bad indeed.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on August 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Even China sees that we need to change course. Everybody sees this but the Democrats. They want to double down on policies that have clearly failed.

    Reporting from Beijing— China called on the United States to “cure its addiction to debts” and “learn to live within its means” in a searing commentary published Saturday by the official New China News Agency in response to Standard & Poor’s historic downgrading of the U.S. government’s credit rating a day earlier.


    • ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 6, 2011 at 11:58 am

      On Communist China, which is our enemy as well as Washington and Israel, see the new Laogai Museum in Washington: http://laogaimuseum.org/

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      The Chinese are right about that. We need to get back to the Clinton era success. Lower spending and remove the Bush tax cuts. When the deficit is gone, then keep spending in check and gradually restore tax cuts. Ideally, the state should not take one more cent than is legitimately needed. Of course, people do not agree about what is legitimately needed.

  4. T. J. Babson said, on August 6, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Diagnosis Obama:

    Since President Obama took office in January 2009, the United States has embarked on the most ambitious failed experiment in Washington meddling in US history. Huge increases in government spending, massive federal bailouts, growing regulations on businesses, thinly veiled protectionism, and the launch of a vastly expensive and deeply unpopular health care reform plan, have all combined to instill fear and uncertainty in the markets. Free enterprise has taken a backseat to continental European-style interventionism, as an intensely ideological left wing administration has sought to dramatically increase the role of the state in shaping the US economy. The end result has been a dramatic fall in economic freedom, sluggish growth, poor consumer confidence, high unemployment, a collapsing housing market, and an overall decline in US prosperity, with more than 45 million Americans now reliant on food stamps – that’s over one seventh of the entire country.


    • magus71 said, on August 7, 2011 at 1:58 am

      I’d like to see Mike write an article holding Obama’s feet to the fire. How many think that will happen?

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm

        Obama is still way ahead of Congress as far as approval goes. George Bush was also ahead of congress. I will even commit to saying that I like George Bush more than I like congress. Actually, a lot more. I hate Ewoks more than Congress, though. Speaking of Ewoks, I pre-ordered the Star Wars MMO. Bioware did good stuff with Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic etc. so I’m hoping their magic will hold for this. You should join us. I know you’ll totally go to the dark side…

        • magus71 said, on August 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm

          Can I kill 1000s of Ewoks? And maybe Jar Jar?

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm

            My ultimate goal in the game is to build a proto-death star and take out Endor and the Gungan. This will change the Star Wars time line…for the better. I think I can get bipartisan Light and Dark support for this.

  5. Wtp said, on August 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Mike, did you express any concern last year before the election when the Democrats had control of both the WH and congress, yet chose to put this issue on the back burner until after the election? purely politcal move to avoid having to make difficult decions and their consequences. And someone with a “bully pulpit” insisted we do so again. Who was that guy?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      I did, I recall, write about the potential problems with having one party dominating the executive and legislative branches. As you note, congress was busily passing bucks even then. Other critics have noted that congress seems less and less inclined to actually act and instead seems to prefer to leave matters to others. This seems to be a problem for both parties.

      • Wtp said, on August 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm

        But this congress did act, unlike the previous congress or Obama, didn’t it?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm

          They did put it off, thus yielding things to the current congress. That turned out to be a bad strategy. Of course, the action taking by congress was hardly a win.

          • WTP said, on August 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm

            No. It was a compromise. It was the best deal they could get with the existing Senate and WH. But on the other hand, what I would consider a win, you would consider a loss. But that’s not the point here. The gist of this article is disapproval of Congress, which itself is a rather nebulous perspective. Some of the 82% disapprove because they went too far, other because they didn’t go far enough. But my point is that they DID something. This is the problem with you philosophers. You sit around faulting those who take action but don’t stick your own necks out there and take any responsibility.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 10, 2011 at 9:27 am

              I take responsibility for what I do, but I am not in congress. I’d run, but I already have a day job and lack the vast sums of money needed to be a contender.

            • WTP said, on August 10, 2011 at 11:51 am

              No, you are not in congress. But you are a philosopher and a teacher of students. You have a responsibility to take the ideas and opinions that you spout as seriously as if you were a member of congress. Would you have been able to vote on this issue in a manner consistent with what you are expecting of a typical congressional representative? Perhaps you should direct your criticism toward those with unreasonable expectations. Mike, I have more respect for the lamest congressman who is on the opposite side of this issue than myself, than I have for a person who criticises those who take a stand, but refuses to take one themselves.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm

              I’m not sure if I am obligated to be as serious as a congress person should be while blogging-after all, I am not representing anyone other than myself and I have no political power. However, acting as a professor I do have responsibility to present the best educational experience I can provide.

              Sure, I could vote on this matter in a way consistent with what I expect. I’m far more inclined to do what is right (at least what the best evidence shows to be right) than to be beholden to special interests or dogma.

            • WTP said, on August 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm

              “I’m not sure if I am obligated to be as serious as a congress person should be while blogging”, well no, not unless you’re going to criticise them. You see, Mike, out here in the real world of responsibilities, it is frowned upon to constantly raise issues if you have no viable, realistic solution. Now granted, this is somewhat different but surely you can see the problem with criticising people in such a manner. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes once in a while, there’s much you can learn.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 12, 2011 at 10:57 am

              I can be less serious because the consequences of my actions are far less serious. Now, if my blog played a role in setting national policy on par with me being a member of congress, then I would need to get serious. Naturally, I should blog in a respectful and rational way-but the stakes are not as high.

              What world are you talking about? People seem to raise issues without solutions everywhere: politics, business, religion, science and so on. In any case I do have responsibilities. It is not like a work in a magical make believe land without accountability. I also take responsibility for what I blog.

              I do endeavor to see things from the perspective of other folks. Naturally, I do not always succeed. However, it does help in avoiding needlessly harsh judgments and adopting a strident and hateful tone.

            • WTP said, on August 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm

              “What world are you talking about?” Priceless, Mike, priceless. “People seem to raise issues without solutions everywhere”, yes they do but that’s the problem…they’re not serious people with serious responsibilities. In the real world, you are responsible to your customer, either directly or through your boss. You can’t dismiss them as idiots, regardless of whether or not they are. You have to deal with them. You have to educate them, regardless of how stupid you may think they are. You are answerable to an absolute standard. But getting back to the whole point of this discussion, from which we have diverged significantly, you have used a meaningless statistic such as a poll about dissatisfaction with congress and interpreted it in the context of your own perceptions. But I’ve been trying to explain this to you for months now, and you just don’t get it. We exchange thoughts on perceptions of reality, but once your perceptions break down, you abandon the argument. Go back to the birth control vs. viagra issue. You just quit on it, which is no big deal, except that you then bring it up again as if you had a point previously. Lead a horse to water…

              As for a “hateful tone”, Mike I apologize for that, but I really don’t see it as hateful. I certainly don’t wish you ill or any such thing. I’m sure if we knew each other socially, we would get along. OK, I do think you should have to find another job, but you’d survive. I know that I personally loathe condescending attitudes so it’s not easy saying this, but you really need to get out in the real world. Philosophy is a very important and extremely useful field of study. But philosophers who philosophize about things they lack experience with, in the process of “educating” the young and impressionable, do more harm than good. And no matter how much they deny it, and how worldly they may be, twenty-somethings simply lack the experience required to make practical use of the knowledge they have.

          • WTP said, on August 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm

            BTW, what does approval or disapproval at the current instant in time have to do with whether or not Congress did the right thing? Isn’t appeal to the popular a fallacy?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 10, 2011 at 9:35 am

              The mere fact that people like or dislike X, as you note, is not proof that X is good or bad. However, there are two points to consider here. First, congress is supposed to represent the views of the people (at least on one view). As such, if a majority of people disapprove, then this can be taken as indicating that congress is failing to act as a representative body. Of course, this could be countered by arguing that congress is supposed to represent the people by doing what they think best, even if the people think that they are doing a poor job. Second, the disapproval can be taken as an indicator of an assessment of the efficacy and correctness of congress’ actions. Of course, this assessment needs to be backed up with more than “we don’t like what they are doing.” What is needed is “we do not like what they are doing because they are doing a poor job and this is based on evidence X, Y and Z.”

            • magus71 said, on August 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm

              Also: Congress is a group of people. People likely favor who they voted for in their states, but dislike congress as a whole, since it’s much easier psychologically to dislike an organization than a person; which is another reason that corporations are easy targets. Plus people read William Gibson, who was smoking copious amounts of weed several decades ago.

            • dhammett said, on August 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm

              ‘People likely favor who they voted for in their states, but dislike congress as a whole,’
              They voted for them and unless their favorites blow up the world, they’ll stand behind them. Then there’s redistricting. . .gerrymandering. Chopping up and repackaging districts in individual states may affect whether an election reflects accurately the true political desires of people in those districts and states. Individuals may like who they voted for, but may not get representation that truly reflects their neighborhoods or districts http://www.redistrictinggame.org/

            • WTP said, on August 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

              Mike, do you understand Magus’s point? You don’t dispute that, correct?

              Using such a meaningless statistic, if you can even call it a statistic, to support your argument is sophistry. But you’re not a sophist, right? You’ve denied that several times. Hmm…what does that leave…maybe you should reconsider sophistry.

            • Anonymous said, on August 16, 2011 at 1:26 am

              Big Oil is more likely to take a hit, here. Exxon made 2 cents on the dollar in profit, last quarter, 2010. Yet libs keep on ranting about oil paying no income tax. ALERT: THERE ARE MANY MORE TAXES OTHER THAN INCOME TAX… In California, 66 cents per gallon goes to federal taxes.


              The oil industry does more good for the world than almost any other industry. Yup, I said it.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 16, 2011 at 3:37 pm

              Big oil does very well for itself.

              Well, yes, there are other taxes. Especially in California.🙂

              Oil does keep the world running-but, in part, because there are few viable alternatives. This does not mean that the oil industry itself does a lot of good, just that we have an oil based energy system for the most part.

  6. FRE said, on August 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    “Given what Americans think of congress, it seems reasonable to infer that Americans in general are not as partisan as the members of congress and that we have different priorities then they do. In short, they do not actually seem to be properly representing us.”

    Probably so. However, they may be properly representing the people who vote in the primaries even if they are not representing people who vote in the run-off. As others have pointed out, the voter turnout in the primaries tends to be low and those who do vote in them tend to be more radical on both the left and the right.

    If people were more diligent about voting in the primaries so that the radicals would not be over-represented in the primaries, the performance of Congress would be significantly improved. The public is to blame for what is happening.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Excellent point. Independents are often excluded from primaries, which no doubt has an impact as well. But, people do need to get out and vote-otherwise the elections tend to get yielded to the more radical folks.

  7. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Both parties; therefore Washington, is not sick; our “government is now become a dead, rotting, stinking corpse, which we must dispose of. Period. Reform is impossible; abolition has become necessary. It is not only our right to abolish it, it is, at this point, become our duty to abolish it.

  8. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 9, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Discussing reform of government, at this point, can be likened to rearranging the chair on the deck of our ship as it’s sinking . . . which is a waste of valuable time and energy. Please re-read the Declaration of Independence, because the words are written from the Founders to us: Americans who find themselves, as we have, in a situation where reform has been tried, for years, and found to be impossible. Abolition of the current government and the institution of new government is now necessary.

    See: http://www.scribd.com/doc/57977869/Treason-and-Sedition-in-US-Federal-Law-A-People-s-Guide

    • dhammett said, on August 9, 2011 at 6:07 pm

      Reform has been tried for “years’?

  9. A J MacDonald Jr said, on August 11, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Our “government” in Washington is looting us, period. They have no desire to end the status quo and are demonizing those who threaten their power. No doubt another false-flag terror event is coming, with the Tea Party being labeled “terrorist” even though they have never been violent. Israel and the US government perpetrated 9/11 and this fact is 100% certain. See: http://www.scribd.com/doc/58318030/US-Military-Knows-Israel-Did-9-11-Alan-Sobrosky-USMC – as well as: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUbTe50UUgM

    Happy Patriot Day – 9/11 – 10 Years of War based upon LIES and Mass Murder

    • magus71 said, on August 11, 2011 at 1:56 am

      “Our “government” in Washington is looting us, period. They have no desire to end the status quo and are demonizing those who threaten their power.”

      Their power is gained by shoveling the money of the most productive onto the least productive.

      Look at London for the results of shutting off the faucet.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm

        True-the middle class does pay a lot of taxes that goes to corporate subsidies. The oil industry alone grows fat upon the public revenue stream.

        • Anonymous said, on August 16, 2011 at 1:11 am

          Ah yes, the liberals will always have Big Oil. Are they really our problem, Mike? I hardly think they’re our least productive constituents. Maybe the rioters in London should go work for the oil industry. Or would that offend their moral code?

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

            The main problem with big oil is that they get great leases on public land and thus often end up selling us our oil for a nice profit. It makes sense to charge them more for such a high profit venture. I have no problem with folks making money, but I do have a problem with that lease system. I’m also not a big fan of federal subsidies and support for the oil industry. That is…socialism.🙂

            • Anonymous said, on August 17, 2011 at 11:28 am

              A small percentage of their profit is generated in the United States.

              She we subsidize farmers not to grow certain foods, thus paying them not to do anything?

            • WTP said, on August 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

              I’d like to see the specifics on this, Mike. Is this something you know or something you’ve heard third or fourth hand? Do they not pay us for these leases? If they don’t, then you have a point. If they do, then it’s our fault for not selling those leases to the highest bidder. They don’t have to buy “our oil”. Philosophical question…Is it our oil if we can’t get it out of the ground? Seems it’s no more our oil than the moon is our moon. Do the fishermen catch “our fish”? And yes, I do understand common-pool resource governance, etc. But if you can’t access it, there’s not much point. Access rights and permission to drill on our property is what they are really leasing. The oil belongs to them.

              And neither am I a fan of “subsidies” for oil or any other industry, etc. (see Anonymous’s point about farming). But if these “subsidies” are the same cost-of-business writeoffs that any other company would receive, then that’s not a subsidy. Can you please give an example of an oil company subsidy? I’d be curious as to what these are.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

              They do pay for the leases. But the key question is not “do they pay” but “do they pay a just price.” Yes, it is “our” fault for leasing at such a low rate-mainly because our elected officials allow it.

              If we assume that oil can be owned, then it would be our oil, even if we could not get to it. In any case, we could get to it. It is not like drilling is a magical power possessed only by oil companies. For military use it might even make good sense for the US to hold key wells and refineries to fuel our war machines.

              Yes, fishermen do, in a sense, catch our fish. Again, assuming that they can be owned (which seems a bit odd). We actually do need to assert more in the way of ownership over the sea resources and conserve them or we will literally break the food chains. Then the fishing industry will collapse and other badness will probably happen. The oceans are big, but they are finite and (like any system) breakable.

              Links to info about oil company subsidies:



              There is some debate about whether they actually get subsidies or not. The main point against it is that the tax breaks and so on are seen by some as not being actual subsidies. To use an analogy, if I give you some money, I am giving you a subsidy. If I charge you less and give you other financial benefits, then I am not. There could be something substantial here or it might be mere semantics.

            • WTP said, on August 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

              Mike, there is sooo much you don’t understand…

              “It is not like drilling is a magical power possessed only by oil companies”

              Well, it’s not like insulating crawl spaces is a magical power possessed only by fat guys with exposed butt cracks either:

              You just do not appreciate the hard work that corporations do. It’s hiring the right, qualified people (not those unqualified ones from the local congressman’s district), it’s purchasing the right equipment (not the equipment from some other congressman’s district that “needs the jobs”), it’s using the right financial organization that is willing to provide the money and thus to take the risk and provide the necessary oversight to protect their vested interest (not fleece some taxpayers “for their own good”).

              I”ll have to check out your links later when I have better access and more time. May be out a few days…maybe not.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

              True. My knowledge is finite and the universe is a pretty big place. At best, I can go with Socrates and accept that my limited wisdom is that I know I know nothing.

              I do appreciate how hard corporations work. I have friends and relatives who work for some of them. They often hire qualified people, but not always-as I have heard from folks on the inside, the news and from dealing with corporations. On average, I have found that corporations and the state have about the same grade of people: some awesome, some average, and some awful.

              It would be nice if the private sector was as awesome as some folks claim. But, seeing how often businesses tank themselves and the poor decisions they often make shows me that the private sector folks are pretty much the same as everyone else.

            • WTP said, on August 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm

              “I have friends and relatives who work for some of them. “…Yeah, and some of my best friends are black.

              Mike, I have worked in both environments, on and off, for nearly 30 years. My observation, along with that of many of those with whom I have worked, is that while private enterprise can be bureaucratic and cumbersome, government work is by far less efficient. Part of this is for the same reason private enterprise can be inefficient. The larger an organization gets, the less it is able to function effectively. The Federal Government is the largest entity going. Couple that with the fact that the government’s customers have little choice in how much they pay for the services, putting aside that they may not even want some of those “services”, the problem is significantly more cumbersome and inefficient. Go to the post office, then go to the UPS store and tell me which one provides better service. The difference is quite clear to me. One considers the customer just another problem with their day, the other appreciates their customers and does what it can to encourage them to come back.

              As for those links, they didn’t impress me much except for this which I agree with completely:

              “We would like to get rid of all subsidies,” Dr. Kreutzer said. “We know that petroleum and coal survive just fine in places where there are no subsidies. I don’t know if that’s true for wind and solar now, but someday it will be, when the price comes down.”

            • magus71 said, on August 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm

              WTP said:

              “government work is by far less efficient”

              This is absolutely, 100 percent my experience also.

  10. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    The president actually said yesterday, during his speech in Michigan, that we (meaning us) need to come up with ideas on how to fix things. So much for him being the leader of the free – or any – world. He couldn’t even be the CEO of a small corporation with zero ideas. He also told us we need to get involved and write our congressmen. Well, the people campaigned and voted for and sent to Washington 6 new Tea Party reps who said no to more uncontrolled spending, which is what the people they represent want. Washington and the media jumped on them, demonized them, and now call then terrorists for doing so. So much for the president’s hollow words.

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