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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

More from the asylum

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Joe Sullivan
Americans' approval ratings for Congress are barely in double digits -- far lower than similar ratings for President Obama.

The nation is in a crisis of enormous proportions. Too many Americans are out of work. The nation's debt continues to climb to staggering levels. Signs of leadership have all but vanished. Political partisanship has all but immobilized our executive and legislative branches of government.

We are still in a Great Recession, and experts say we could be headed for another one. They seem to ignore the fact that you can't go into another recession when the first one is still churning along.

Housing prices are starting to stabilize in some areas of the country. There are still a good many Americans who remember the Great Depression, when housing prices declined 30 percent. Guess what. In the current Great Recession, housing values are down nearly 31 percent.

Instead of solving this mess, members of Congress and the current occupant of the White House are spending all their energies trying to save their jobs. Re-election trumps everything in Washington, including doing what legislators and presidents are elected -- and expected -- to do.

Tuesday night on "CBS News With Scott Pelley," the anchorman asked Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television and the first African-American billionaire in the U.S., what his message to Congress would be.

This is where I come in.

A while back I opined that President Obama's recent speech about creating jobs should have included a pledge not to seek re-election. Instead, the president should devote his remaining months in office to fixing things that are broken.

I doubt that Robert Johnson reads my column. However, it appears we share some of the same thinking, which I put in the category of common sense. Johnson told Pelley, in so many words: Every member of Congress should do what needs to be done instead of running for re-election.

You all know how serious the nation's situation is right now, and you all have your own take on what should be done to save our necks. I thought you might like a recap of something else Robert Johnson said to Scott Pelley.

The CBS newsman asked Johnson about the nation's debt crisis. In response, Johnson told a little story.

Imagine that a group of people go to a restaurant for dinner. They order their meals knowing they don't have enough money to pay for the dinner. So what do you do to keep the waiter from bringing the check? You order more food. Which, of course, you can't afford.

That is the simplest and clearest explanation of the U.S. government's gluttony that you're likely to come across.

Kudos to Robert Johnson for cutting through the political glop and for being brave enough to speak his mind on network TV.

We need more clearheaded folks like Johnson to speak up. Surely at some point members of Congress and the president will actually start hearing what they're being told.

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

R. Joe Sullivan
R. Joe Sullivan