A funny thing about living in the Washington D.C. suburbs is most people don’t talk about politics in person. You’d think since so many residents have careers related to the government and military that neighborhood picnic conversations would be about the latest news from Capitol Hill or Pennsylvania Avenue.
Aside from an occasional local election yard sign, politics don’t come up. Suburbanites do have strong political leanings but don’t want to risk neighborhood civility by talking about healthcare or taxes.
Conversations are more about summer camps and rodent exterminators.
The political conversations stay on Facebook. Young people and my middle-aged neighbors are all dropping cable in favor of social media. But as we learned from the last election, social media algorithms create a political “filter bubble” that segregates news feed items by political beliefs and strengthens political bias.
So the more biased we are toward one political leaning, the more we’re fed information to support our views.
This seems to be consistent with the lack of dialogue and open-mindedness at the governing levels. Politicians with similar beliefs hang around and don’t talk to the other side or read opposing opinions. Both sides are guilty.
The polarization leads to one-sided legislation, passed only with the ideals of the party in charge.
Healthcare is a perfect example. One party primarily wrote the law. Now the other party wants to dismantle it.
Millions of American’s rely on the current law’s benefits. A few months back, the healthcare bill came down to one man’s thumb down vote. Had he gone thumbs up instead, the impact would have been far-reaching.
The last thing you need is some politician making a decision that negatively affects your life.
Disenchantment with Leadership
Back in the year 2000 when the dot-com bubble burst, an acquaintance of mine lost a lot of money in stocks. He placed the blame squarely on politicians. He’s forwarded negative emails chains about his distaste for politicians ever since.
He lost a lot of money because the stock market went up a lot, then fell. That’s what the stock market does. And he made bad investments. The market was frothy.
Blaming the elected officials was a convenient scapegoat.
Especially during recessions, people blame government inaction for personal hardship, then look to the government to do something to make it all better. 60 Minutes reporters usually interview them about it.
Common sense tells us that relying on a bloated entity to take care of individuals is foolish.
The government cares about the barge, not the lump of coal along for the ride. You, the individual, are meaningless to the government. Ideally, the government sets rules that are fair for everybody, then we all play by the rules.
Of course, that isn’t always the case. Rules are often skewed toward those with influence and money. Thankfully, every now and then us regular folks catch a break and receive benefits too like tax-advantaged investment accounts.
Political and Governmental Risk
Living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area has its perks. The job market is strong because of the government. Real estate prices are healthy because of the job market. Money is siphoned from all of you around the country and funneled to my city. It’s a good deal here.
And it’s not just your taxes. Every industry organization is based here, like AARP, National Rifle Association (NRA), the American Beverage Institute and hundreds of others call the D.C. area home.
The foreign embassies of all the world’s countries are here. All that government money is spent here too.
But every time the politics change, budgets and priorities change. I’ve seen money flow in many different directions in the 15 years I’ve been here.
In the late 1990’s it was a free-for-all in information technology because of the looming Y2K crisis. Then 9/11 happened and all the money went to intelligence, defense, and homeland security. Then the big healthcare law was passed and a wave of money went toward that for a while.
Nationwide, government funds scientific research, military funding, colleges and universities, infrastructure projects, local development, healthcare, municipal government activities, local law enforcement, and anything else you can think of.
If your occupation is reliant upon government funding, you may need to worry about some administrator making a decision that could negatively impact your job and life. It can happen from the top without any warning. A few years ago one bureaucrat made a decision that ruined my Christmas. It could have been worse.
Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. – Homer Simpson
Replace alcohol with money and it remains true.
Yes, when you acquire more wealth you’ll pay more taxes, and disproportionately so. But it’s not a reason to not build wealth.
As you grow your wealth, you become less dependent on the government. More wealth means you won’t need food stamps, or Social Security, or health care subsidies.
You might start paying less attention to all the political noise and start focusing on happiness or making more money.
Some use their wealth and influence try to foster change in government, which seems pointless because it’s so unlikely to work. I’m always amazed when billionaires contribute so much to politics when there are so many more noble causes.
The worst money I ever spent was a $25 political donation. I thought it was a good idea at the time. But in hindsight, it helped fund a tiny fraction of a TV ad that I didn’t want to see and had no impact on the future.
That $25 would have been better off in my bank account, working for me.
Stashes of money and multiple income streams can buy you freedom. Money also protects you from emergencies, joblessness, and political decisions you don’t agree with. Even so, most government action or inaction will have minimal impact on your life regardless of what it is or what party passes a law.