Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Return to Values

Well, the people have spoken, sort of. More accurate to say, some of the people have spoken some of the time. Apparently, Lincoln didn’t get that part, when he said:
You can fool all the people some of the time,
and some of the people all the time,
but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

The part he didn’t get is that is that you do not need to fool (lie to) all of the people all of the time. Because all of the people do not vote all of the time.  With this last election, we seem to have demonstrated, if not proved, that at the least you can win elections by lying to that part of the people (electorate) who actually intend to vote.
What did the GOP promise? Well, they said basically,
“All of the world’s problems are caused by Obama.
And we are not Obama.”
So, despite all of the evidence sitting there in front of them that, actually, most of the current problems have either been caused by the republicans, or ignored by them, the voting people elected to cast their ballots for one of the weakest fields of candidates I can remember. And now, instead of the unimpressive Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, we will be led by those youngsters, Mitch (I am not a scientist) McConnell, and Johnny Boehner.
Now, to be fair, Tony and the Supremes can claim some considerable credit for the election results, given their “Corporations are persons” ruling, which opened the floodgates of black money. And of course, what would a GOP election win be without the Faux News Network’s contribution?  They are the official PR wing of the Koch-party. That they lie is beyond dispute, and, further, that the (voting) Americans believe them also seems beyond dispute.  It’s all really kind of amazing.  The rest of the world must view us as some kind of weird Klingon culture, or perhaps we are The Borg—“Resistance is futile”.
Exactly how we plan to bring democracy to the so-called Third World, or to that benighted region known colloquially as the “Middle East”, or “Beheading Central”, as we now like to call it, I cannot imagine. What troubles me greatly in that regard is that we have several thousands of our youngsters currently in harm’s way within that sad region trying to enforce our will, meanwhile some dying each day in pursuit of the Shrub’s continued legacy.  While it has become Obama’s war, that mess was created by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz crowd, who insisted on attacking Sadaam just because Poppy Bush had done so and we did so want to demonstrate that we could do it better than Poppy Bush. Plus, we do so like our oil fields. Of course, now that ISIS has its own oil field(s) we may not be able to claim any of the profits generated there. I suppose, ISIS will use the profits to buy more swords, the better to behead more unbelievers. Much as we like oil money, they love beheadings.
And so it goes.
Now, we, the other part of the electorate (the ones who voted for the other guys) will have to watch how the Koch-party (maybe we can call the republicans The Grand Old Cocks??) will erase what remains of the nation’s honor.
Hopefully by the 2016 election (beginning . . .. oh, now) the Democrats will discover an actual platform on which to run Hillary, or Bernie Sanders, or Kirsten Gillibrand, or whoever. And maybe that platform will speak to the whole of the American people.
·         The economy currently sucks and shows some signs of actually crashing, ala 1929 fashion.  The federal government can play a productive role in its recovery. We know that the so-called “job-creators” are mainly the folks who have been outsourcing American jobs and WalMarting America.  Meanwhile, at a minimum, our entire infrastructure is crumbling, and a WPA style program might actually restore both that infrastructure and some small part of our economy;
·         The banks and hedge fund managers of the world (way beyond just here in the US) seem basically to be little more than gamblers, and they are using our credit to gamble, while returning virtually all the profits to the 0.1%. They need desperately to be reined in, with perhaps some drastic steps needed to restrain banks from their current style of gambling.
·         We need to invest in tomorrow’s technology and stop worrying about the 19th century (see the Koch brothers). A major national investment program in new energy resources, and new approaches to climate control will move us back into the 21st century from our current 19th century perch. It could also help to revive the economy.
·         We need to reinvigorate the concept of balance in our world. In a past episode, I commented on the need for balance and it continues to have relevance. I will close this little posting with the remains of a former posting:
In economic matters, extremes do not work. Under Bush, we shifted dangerously in the direction of a fascist state—that is, a state in which private owners of businesses dictate government policies. The inevitable result is Enron, et al, as well as the collapsed financial system. We have been drifting in that direction for quite some time now, even under Clinton. Everyone has been so concerned with government regulation that they failed to notice that unregulated business is as dangerous as unchecked government. One gives you fascism; the other socialism. Private business interests must always be checked to assure that the public is protected. So too must government overseers. Balance in everything is the answer. But balance requires mental agility. The public has little patience—they want the world to operate on autopilot. They need to be convinced that a world in which competing interests are balanced is both an efficient world, and a world that is worthy.
We need to pay for what we need. The Republican Party has been, almost as a matter of policy, fiscally irresponsible. They practice “charge and spend” politics. We will now have to pay for their profligacy. The public—the thinking public—needs to understand that we cannot continue on the course they charted and followed. Mainly the rest of the world will not allow us to continue on this course. They will simply stop buying our debt and then it will end, badly. Taxes are the way we pay for our policies.  Taxes are neither good nor bad, in the abstract. They represent the price of operating our country, or, perhaps, the glue of a civilized society.
We must pursue policies that are aimed at preserving the Earth. We need to conserve. We need to pursue alternative energy policies. We need to use economic forces to create a demand for energy-efficiency and energy independence. Under Bush and Cheney, we have pursued policies promoting wasteful energy consumption, mainly because he and his advisers represent the extractive industries. We need to tax wasteful energy consumption, so as to encourage wiser use of Earth’s limited resources.
We must pursue a policy of economic independence for all our citizens. During my career, I worked for seven organizations over a 45 year career. For 20 of those years, I worked for several large and small companies that contributed nothing beyond Social Security for my retirement. Bush and his republican allies have attempted on numerous occasions to threaten that reserve. If indeed we wish to get rid of Social Security, we do not need to “privatize” it. We need to pass legislation that forces every economic entity in the country to pay into a portable retirement system. TIAA-CREF comes to mind—the system used by most universities and non-profits. If the private sector would begin to live up to its responsibilities by a mandatory contribution system, we would not need Social Security. Take the system used by universities and non-profits and replicate it throughout the whole of the private sector. Do not allow companies to wriggle out by use of part-time workers. If they employ part-time workers, they still pay full retirement benefits. Otherwise, leave Social security alone
 Republicans, continue in their zeal to scuttle public education. We need to begin working with the states to repair the currently deplorable state of public education. In our area of North Carolina, they seem comfortable with a dropout rate of 35%.  Think of that. We can do better. Indeed, we are losing ground to the rest of the world, and we are at risk of becoming a country of stupid people. Charter schools, especially for-profit charter schools, and worse, fake private schools that are on-line, are not an answer.
We must examine carefully the structure of government. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security was an absurd idea—a solution in search of a problem. Think of it. The CIA and the FBI wouldn’t communicate and were demonstrably inept, so we forced the Coast Guard, FEMA, and the rest to become one entity. An idea only a truly stupid person could embrace.  Structure is not the answer when the problem is an absence of thoughtful consideration of available evidence. 
There were a few other points that need not be repeated here. What we continue to need is watchful citizens—citizens who are willing to question both private commercial interests and public government interests. Corruption is a problem that will always be with us, so long as we have serious economic imbalances and so long as we have citizens who are basically dishonest—remember both the corrupters and the corruptees are dishonest.  Both need to be exposed and punished. It is why, by the way, that we continue to need whistle-blowers. Say what you will of the Assange-Manning-Snowden groups, but they have informed us of some very unpleasant things about ourselves. Transparency is key here, and we definitely do not have transparent systems in either the public or private realms (thanks again Supremes).
Mainly, we all need to stand up and be counted. And that means we need to vote, regardless of the efforts by the GOP to prevent folks from voting.  If you don’t vote, you will get the government you deserve.

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