The Blame Game

The complete guide to blaming: How to play and how to quit.

Get Your Tickets Here for Blame Fest, 2013

Closed for Business - Open for Blaming!

I’m the backstage doctor for a huge music festival in Milwaukee called Summerfest. I am also the doctor for Harley Fest (110th Anniversary for Harley Davidson), Irish Fest, German Fest and several other Fests. Today it seems appropriate to invite some performers to Washington, DC to help us celebrate Blame Fest. I’ve never seen so much blaming, even in Washington! Bring the cooler and let’s have a tailgate party!! We need someone to bring the pointers!!

Republicans blaming democrats, democrats blaming republicans, Conservatives blaming the President, the President blaming the Tea Party, and on and on…

What’s the one thing that they all have in common? They are all part of the US government! They are all supposed to work for us, for our health and welfare.

Is it any wonder that the congressional approval rating is heading down to the single digits? Call Guinness we’re going for a world record low! This is reality TV at its very worst. I have my personal political opinions and biases. However, irrespective of what direction I believe the country should travel, the overriding issue is that we have elected a large number of officials who do not take any responsibility for their role in getting us into this mess. It’s anyone and everyone else’s fault for where our country is today.

Responsibility is such a nasty word in Washington. Responsibility should be a positive term with positive implications. Instead, there is the underlying sentiment that, “if I admit that I had anything to do with this, you will most likely not re-elect me.” Consequently, instead of looking at the entire process and how we each may be involved, we use the word “blame” and keep pointing fingers at the other side.

The first responsibility is with us: the non-elected public. We voted for these people. We knowingly elected a Democratic Senate and President and a Republican House. We did this to ourselves! We knew from past experiences that when each branch of congress is run by opposing parties little gets accomplished. They spend more time blaming and complaining than taking effective action steps. Perhaps that is what we secretly desire. We are afraid of major changes and electing officials who we know will always oppose each other accomplishes this goal. It’s easier in Washington to stop things from happening than it is to make them happen.

Most of those elected have been consistent with what they said that they had intended to do. The President promised that he would push forth his healthcare act, the Democrats promised to support it and the Republicans promised to oppose it. Congress’ inactivity in passing budgets or trying to get our fiscal house in order is nothing new. They had not passed a single budget for four years and we re-elected most of them!

We, the people of the United States of America have the awesome responsibility to hold elected officials accountable for their role in creating, shaping, and maintaining the state of the union.

The other day a middle school in Wisconsin showed children an “I pledge” video where several famous performers pledge to be “of service to” or to “be a servant to” President Barack Obama. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. The elected officials – all elected officials are to be of service to the people and the country! That is their responsibility. Ours is to make sure that if that doesn’t happen, we will take action and try someone else who might.

The saying “politics as usual” doesn’t make us feel any better about the gridlock and lack of communication. Republican or Democrat, once they become “elected”, one of their priorities becomes getting re-elected. That involves getting things and doing things that will get votes in deference to what may be ultimately beneficial in the long-term for this country.

The other responsibility that we have is to our children and to future generations. How we spend money now affects their lives even more than our own. The national debt is the amount of money the US government has borrowed to pay its bills. It exists because the government’s expenditures exceed its revenues. So, to pay the bills, the government borrows money from countries like China, Japan, and Brazil. America’s debt is now coming up on $17 trillion.

What does that really mean? Without any finger pointing or blaming, here are some fun facts:

1)      The debt is about 140% of our personal disposable income, 190% of our per capita income, and 104% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). These are all the highest in the history of this country. It will soon pass 20% of the entire world’s combined economy!

2)      The national debt is increasing by about $35 million per hour - around $2 billion every day!

3)      It took 39 presidents and 200 years for the debt to reach $1 trillion when President Reagan took office. By the time President Clinton left the White House (20 yrs later), it had reached $5.6 trillion. Eight years later, under Bush II, the debt had almost doubled to $10.7 trillion. The increase in the past 4.5 years of more than $6 trillion is Obama’s responsibility. Just as any lowering of the debt would have been to his credit – he is responsible either way. So was Bush, so was Clinton, so was Reagan, etc. Responsibility is irrespective of party lines. There is no good or bad party. Neither can be trusted to treat our money as they would their own.

4)      What is $17 trillion? 

  • Tom Cruise made about $75 million last year. For him to earn $17 trillion, he would have had to make $75 million a year…for the next 238,000 years.
  • If you like to shop, you would have to spend $5 million a day…for the next 9,282 years to spend $17 trillion.
  • If you laid 17 trillion one-dollar bills end-to-end, they would wrap around the equator (24,900 miles) over 6,460 times! Even lying on their edges and pushed together lying face-to-face they would wrap around the equator 46 times.
  • Each dollar bill is 0.0043 inches. A stack of 17 trillion dollar bills would reach upwards of over 1 million miles!
  • If the debt would be laid in a single line of $1 bills, it would stretch from Earth, past Uranus (yes, this intentionally contains a double meaning).
  • If you spent $1 million a day since the year 0, you would have not spent $1 trillion by now...but ~$700 billion - same amount the banks got during bailout.

Here’s another way of looking at this picture:

US Tax Revenue =      $2,472,000,000,000,000

Federal Budget =         $3,803,000,000,000,000

New Debt =                $1,331,000,000,000,000

National Debt =          $16,749,000,000,000,000

Recent Budget Cuts=  $1,200,000,000,000,000

 

These numbers are too big. Let’s pretend that this was my family and remove eight zeros from those big numbers.

Annual Family Income   = $24,720

Money that my family spends = $38,030

New Debt on my credit card   =$13,310

Outstanding balance on my credit card = $167,490 (this is the amount that my children and grandchildren will have to pay back).

Total budget cuts to pay off my debt = $12,000

This perpetuates the issue. We couldn’t live like this as a family and we can’t live like this as a country. This is not sustainable. This is what our government has not done for us but to us.

Nobody has said it better than one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” Unfortunately his prediction did not come true “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Who’s to Blame??? Politicians and all of us who elected them! We need accountability, a root cause analysis: what happened and why and a plan to improve for the future. OK we’re here. Now what? We need cooperative, productive discussions. What we get is The Blame Game and Politics as Usual…

As John F. Kennedy so eloquently stated, “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.“

Let's be hopeful and let's also be realistic. Until that happens, see you at the Fest!

You can read more about the Principle of Accountability and other Key to Achieve Principles, and how to apply them to create The Action Board on my website: www.TheKeytoAchieve.com.

Read more about Blaming and How to Quit The Blame Game: The Complete Guide to Blaming

Read more about Positive Strategies in my book Making Lemonade: 101 Recipes to Convert Negatives into Positives

Follow me on twitter or friend me on Facebook.

Neil Farber, M.D., Ph.D., an Associate Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, is a member of the IPPA and the author of The Blame Game.

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