Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Axis of Ignorance

Perry, Bachmann, Palin, Steele, Cheney, Rove, Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, and many others who account for the hateful, reactionary rhetoric that seems to be filling such airways as Fox News and right-wing hate radio, have all become part of what can best be described as the "Axis of Ignorance".

The Axis of Ignorance spontaneously manifested itself in a fitful eruption of unchecked hate and venom directed specifically at Barack Obama during the presidential campaign. It continues to this day due largely to the fact that these people only seem to embrace democracy when it rigidly aligns with their notions of truth and justice or how things should be done. Loyal opposition? Forget it with these types. This is the "all or nothing", the "us and them", the "with us or against us" crowd whose philosophy seems anchored in a sort of moral absolutism -- fixed and unforgiving. Very unChristian in my view.

These people are deliberately inciting violence because the world no longer dances to their particular music. They are anything but patriotic and seem to lack a fundamental understanding of what it means to be an "American". No grace, no dignity in defeat, they are dangerous and seem to exhibit fascist tendencies. One glaring example of this is the Republican congressman who recently claimed to know of the existence of 17 "socialists" in Congress, a very McCarthy-like maneuver.

One thing is certain. The Axis of Ignorance needs to be mercilessly exposed for the toxic brew that it is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On David Brooks' Editorial - Taking a Depression Seriously

Mr. Brooks, while on the whole, I am in agreement with your thoughts and sentiments regarding the pathetic, counter-productive, and toxic approach to this financial crisis that the Republican party has embraced, I have to say that your criticism of President Obama's pursuit of a social agenda in the midst of this financial crisis, I find fundamentally objectionable.

First of all, let's first recognize and acknowledge that this financial mess that we are now mired in is largely the direct result of misguided Republican policies and initiatives. Specifically, aggressive pursuit and endorsement of deregulation, in combination with Bush's profligate spending (and the Republican party's rubber-stamping of said spending), have all contributed mightily to our present financial crisis.

So, what you are essentially asking is that the newly elected Democratic majority, who have been patiently waiting for several decades to finally be in a position toexert its influence in the public arena, forgo its plans to address some of the obvious and glaring social inequities and political deficiencies that have resulted from years of a Republican-imposed perspective and political posture on social, economic, and environmental matters.

You are essentially asking us to sacrifice the one opportunity that we've finally earned to make a difference on the political stage in order to -- once again -- fix the problems that your party played an instrumental role in creating. Is that the gist of it, Mr. Brooks?

Well, let me be brief with my answer. "No!".

We are sick and tired of having to clean up the messes that your party leaves behind which only serves to inhibit our ability to pursue policies and social programs that benefit the greater majority. One can easily begin to think or suspect that these inherited deficits that your party seems to have a special and unique affinity for producing is actually nothing more than an effort on your party's part to make it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for the Democratic successors to implement a Democratic agenda.

So, you are asking us to sacrifice universal health care, and a much needed green technological revolution, so that we can exclusively focus all of our time, effort, and money on fixing an economy that you party left in tatters (after having inherited a surplus from us)?

And if we were to follow your advice, what guarantees will we have that we'll ever again be in a position to exert the considerable political power that we now enjoy (largely as a result of Republican greed and incompetence, I might add) in bringing about a much needed progressive, social agenda again?

The simple answer is that you can't guarantee it. So, in the absence of that guarantee, we've decided to walk and chew gum at the same time. It's really not that difficult if you are committed and resolute...sort of like your Republican party's single-minded commitment to obstructing anything and everything that the Democratic party pursues -- only in the case of the Democrats, it's for the public good and not for political power for political power's sake, alone.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Unusual Times Call For Unusual Measures

Why some people can't see the foolishness of emphasizing tax cuts over public investment as a means of stimulating an economy on life support is beyond me. Political ideologies can often blind us to the obvious.

Two types of tax cuts are being proposed -- one which benefits the average taxpayer, and the other which benefits the business sector. As far as the average taxpayer is concerned, more than likely, if they don't use it to pay off personal debt, they'll end up using it to buy products that are made somewhere other than the USA. In the case of the latter, the only people benefiting would be the actual store in which the items are sold and the employees who work there (by virtue of the store's profit margin). The purchases, for the most part, will not benefit American manufacturing and, therefore, American jobs. (Just read the labels on the items that you purchase at your local merchants. It is becoming a rarity to see "Made in America" anymore.) Given this reality, I assume that President-Elect Obama is supporting this measure to simply fulfill a campaign promise. (And should this tax cut be implemented via lower tax deductions on our paychecks, the extra money will largely go unnoticed for the most part.)

On the business side, history has shown that tax cuts have done very little to spur economic activity in any meaningful way. During periods of economic downturn, businesses are very reluctant to take risks or make those types of investments that would yield increased employment or economic activity. On the contrary, the bulk of business investments occur during economic upswings when there is little to no risk involved. Even with targeted tax cuts, e.g. $3,000 tax credit for each new employee hired, I doubt that such an incentive will prove fruitful given the current state of the economy.

We are far, far better off with an aggressive public investment program that will definitely create jobs while simultaneously producing those types of needed investments that will have long-term benefits for everyone concerned, including the business community. And, as Mr. Krugman suggests, if we extend that investment program over a period of years as opposed to months, we are much more likely to positively effect a favorable outcome given what will likely be a growing perception or sense of economic stability and security in the minds of businesses, workers, and consumers alike.

In this scenario, the public sector will prove to be a valuable partner to the private sector in restoring stability and faith in capitalism as a means of serving the public need. Unusual times call for unusual measures. Both parties can work together for the common good. We shouldn't allow ideological preconceptions blind us to practical solutions.