Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Is Our Moment

"A New Progressive Era," by Robert L. Borosage

According to Mr. Borosage, "If Obama is elected, he will have the moment, mandate, momentum, and moral armament to launch a new era of bold progressive reform." It is not only Obama who will have the moment and momentum and moral armament.

Much more important, we the people will have the moment and the momentum and the moral armament. We can't just sit back on Nov. 5 and expect Obama and the new administration do all the work.

The work that needs to be done to recover from the devastation wrought by the neocons is much too much for just one guy, even if he does work in the oval office. We can't just put our trust in Obama. He's got some good stuff goin' on, but he's not the messiah. He's just a guy. A good guy. But to restore the Constitution, the balance of power, our civil liberties, a just and fair immigration system, a tortured economy, our standing in the world -- just to name a few -- we need to continue to be as engaged after the election as we are now.

We must continue to push for change and raise our voices about what really matters and what will transform us into a much better Republic than we have been for the last eight years, the last eighty years. We need to use the momentum we've built up, both online and on the streets, through writing letters to our representatives and to local and national newspapers, through blogging and online communication and education, through our involvement on whatever level best suits us: community-wide, nationwide, worldwide.

One of the most important things we can do is to pay attention and to respond to what we see. Ask questions. Question authority. Drag what's hiding in the shadows out into the open. That's what our cybercommunity is really good for. Let's get rid of the electoral college before the next presidential election and make it so that votes count all across the country and not just in battleground states. Let's close Guantanamo and end torture. Let's work together to discover sources of fuel that are less costly (in every respect).

We have a lot of work to do, people. We really are the ones we have been waiting for, and this is our moment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trickle UP

Why is it that you never hear about trickle-UP economics? It seems to me that this is much more common (and obvious) than the other sort, the feudal fantasy of trickle-down economics. Without the people willing to work minimum wage in this country, would anybody have any money at all?

This line of thought started this morning when I read this editorial in the New York Times: The City Life: Regulating the 99-Cent Store.

I've never taken an economics course, and much of the time economics makes as much sense to me as voodoo. Thank God for Paul Krugman. Thanks to his insightful and well-written column, comprehensible to the economically uninitiated, I have at least begun to think about economics with something less akin to revulsion. But I have a lot of questions; there is much that puzzles me.

Disclaimer: I have a knee-jerk inclination to identify with lost causes, underdogs, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised. These are the corners of the world I find the most interesting, the most appealing, the most compelling, and no offense to my rich friends (all two of you, I think), but I find more to respect in those corners as well.

Since I began hanging around with my friends from the Hispanic/Latino congregation at my church, I have come to know people who have the fiercest work ethic I have ever encountered. (Gross generalization alert!) They'll work for anyone who will give them a job, they'll work whatever hours, under whatever conditions. And across the board, they do it for one reason: for their families. They just want to be able to keep their kids alive, to buy them milk and tortillas and beans. And even so, they will give you the shirt off their back if you ask for it.

The way I see it, this is the kind of work ethic that made this country strong, economically, morally, spiritually, collectively. But these are the folks that some want to bar from entrance, even though many who employ them need their services desperately (in spite of their unwillingness to pay them a just wage or provide them with health care). I suppose that with the economy in the tank, there will be more and more Americans willing to take jobs that until now only the economically desperate have been willing to take.

Some of my friends may now find that they have no recourse but to return to their home countries. That would be bad for us, because these folks are good for America. They have the fiercest of family values (the real kind, not just trotted out when it's politically expedient). They are kind, generous, inclusive, and committed to their community. We need more people like this. We shouldn't be shunning them and driving them away.

Anyway, to return to my question, what about trickle-UP economics? I've never seen a business that could function without its low-wage grunt employees. And the businesses that recognize the value of their workers -- janitors, clerks, and engineers alike -- are generally the ones that flourish, aren't they? Don't people just naturally want to do business where people are happy, growing, and invested in the well-being of the company they work for? But even the businesses that don't treat their employees well, could they survive without their janitors and clerks?

So, Mr. Krugman, can you please explain to me why no one ever talks about the theory of trickle-UP economics?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Neocon Jobs

McCain keeps saying he's for change, and last night he said he isn't George Bush. But the ideology he clings to as though he were a drowning man grasping at a dead weight for support is the same ideology that landed the U.S. (and the rest of the world along with it) in the huge mess it's in now.

McCain flip-flops more than any politician I've ever listened to. He barely says a sentence without contradicting himself. He's going to freeze spending. He's going to pay down the deficit. And he's going to lower taxes. Does he think we're really buying that? Who does he think he is: Houdini?

I am deeply offended by his obvious contempt for Obama. His facial expressions, interruptions, and the rolly eyes trick are petulant to the point of absurdity. If he won't listen to his opponent during the debate, what makes anyone think he would ever listen to any of us?

During the last debate he looked like he was on the verge of blowing a gasket every time he had to shut up and let Obama talk. The man can't control himself, and he can't control the rabble who come to his mob fests. Do we want four years of him appealing to the lowest common denominator, motivating people with hate and fear and preposterous allegations of terrorism against anyone he doesn't like or who doesn't agree with him?

And what does the tenor of McCain's and Palin's rallies say about their leadership? Obama has the good sense to quiet his supporters when they boo McCain. "We don't need any of that," he said. "What we need is to vote." And the crowd cheers and leaves its uglier sentiments behind. Whereas, after McCain and Palin fan the flames of hysteria, fear, and racism, cries from the crowd of "terrorist" and "kill him" pass by with nary a blink nor even the mildest of rebukes. Sure, one day (out of how many?) McCain tries to calm his supporters' fears, but he does it so ineffectually that it just frustrates them. When he said Obama was a decent family man, his rabble actually booed him. Great leadership, that.

And what's with his whining about a "character attack against Governor Sarah Palin" from Rep. John Lewis? Lewis had the temerity to call McCain and Palin out on their blatant appeals to fear and racism, so McCain's response is to paint himself and Palin as victims? Huh? And even though the Obama campaign had absolutely nothing to do with Lewis's remarks, McCain wants him to repudiate them? Huh? Next he'll be saying that his campaign deserves kudos because no one has been using the "n" word. That tactic would be only slightly more transparent than the tactics McCain and Palin have been using. Does McCain think we just don't get it? Does he really think we're just that ignorant? He called Lewis's remarks "beyond the pale." That's just what I think of his appealing to the mob's racism. Utterly beyond the pale.

No way this guy should be in any position of leadership much less in the most powerful position on the planet. Anybody with anger management issues like his shouldn't be trusted anywhere near the red button. And Lord help us if something happened to him and Palin took his place as president. I couldn't agree with Tina Fey more: I'd have to leave the planet, or at the very least barricade myself in the house and unplug my TV and my computer for fear I might catch a whiff of her.

I know there are many who feel that at 72 McCain is too old to be president. I do not. I know there are some who are plenty vigorous and sharp and capable at 72. I wouldn't want to exclude them from running for the presidency or to vote against them just on the basis of their age.

I don't have nearly as much of a problem with McCain's age as I do with the oldness of his hard-line ideology. McCain apparently thinks we won't recognize the Bush doctrine when he spouts it. He apparently believes that we don't realize how much damage the Bush doctrine has done in virtually every area of public life. He thinks we don't get it. But he's the one who doesn't get it. We've been there, we've done that, we've been screwed royally, and we are well aware of what and who has done the screwing. Enough already! No more neocon jobs!