The world outside my window this morning was as black and white as an old photo. The overnight storm had apparently washed away all the world’s color. Maybe, I thought, the earth is simply reflecting back to us our increasingly divisive, black and white, no-room- for-compromise culture. And on that happy thought I set out on my daily walk.
The rain, which had held off briefly, returned. The darkening sky cast gray light on the gray sidewalks and streets. A few pale yellow leaves stirred in gutters and yellow fire hydrants squatted in the swirling leaves. My mind wandered into yesterday, to the tax compromise which dominated this morning’s news, and to President Obama’s unusually strident news conference. Would he be surprised to learn that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reach my desktop every morning? Weren’t his remarks a little condescending?
I heard my heels striking the sidewalk in a brisk tattoo and wondered if I were angrier than I realized.
Yesterday the president chastised liberals for being purists while defending his giving away of what should be ungiveable—economic sustainability. The extension of tax breaks to the wealthy and its consequent affect on the deficit concerns me, but what worries me most is the two percent reduction in Social Security taxes. Will this open the door to future reductions in Social Security, until it is so weakened it will “have” to be privatized? Will that huge trust fund then be handed over to corrupt bankers and hedge fund owners to play with? And when, inevitably, those forced to invest lose their meagre savings, will they get nothing in return but “sorry”?
I appreciate President Obama’s willingness to compromise when everything is against it; I understand his desire to protect the weakest Americans. But with this decision we are establishing—it seems to me—patterns and precedents that will certainly come back to haunt us, either in 2012 or the more distant future. The widening gap between the rich and the rest of us will widen further. There are no easy answers.
The pendulum eventually swings, however, and the concerns of one woman have little impact on the future of the country. My mood, on the other hand, is something I can control. I shake the rain off my hat and pick up my pace. My heels strike the pavement a little softer, my frustration finally walked out. The sun slides from behind a dark cloud and the yellow fire hydrants snap to attention. Life is still good.