Archive for the ‘Election’ Category

Don’t blame Michelle Bachman

October 23, 2008

Poor woman. The RNC sent her to appear on Hardball. Her job, I presume, was to be a woman carrying Republican talking points to liberal America. She is, after all, like Sarah Palin, a woman. But let’s give her some credit. It does not make sense to accuse an American Presidential candidate of being anti-American. She is probably smart enough to know that. When she becomes the mouthpiece of the RNC, however, her brain has to do a disappearing act, sort of. She realizes, unconsciously, that it makes more sense to wonder about senators and representative. It’s been done, after all. So she comes up with that.  So in some byzantine way she way trying to find some sense in nonsense. Can’t be done. Then the RNC abandons her. Its a tough time to carry water for hatemongers. Poor woman.

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The Health Crisis Made Simple

October 17, 2008

From the year 2000 to 2007:

    The Consumer price index has gone up 20%.

    Per capita income has gone up 16%.

From January 1, 2000 to October 15, 2008:

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gone down 21.6%.

    UnitedHealth Group has gone up 326%.

    Aetna has gone up 231%.

    Humana has gone up 446%.

The Meaning of “is” is… or “Who is Barack Obama?”

October 14, 2008

“Barack Obama is different” means:

Either: We live in a community where everyone knows everyone else or, at least, we used to. Our neighbor was the banker, and the doctor lived down the street. At coffee after church the teacher told us how proud she was of our daughter. The local farmers shopped at “Our Own Hardware.” If we bought a side of beef from them, we could keep it in their locker. We played bridge with the mayor the second Tuesday of the month. When we went fishin’ we didn’t think about locking the house or car. We don’t know why things aren’t that way anymore. Barack Obama comes from a different culture, even a different country. Didn’t his father go back there? How could he understand us? He went to some highfalutin’ school where they teach how to take advantage of the rest of us. He tried to get poor black people to riot. He can’t possibly understand us. Besides, he’s black.

Or: We belong to a culture in which most people have had pretty good lives. We’ve gone to Europe, some even to Asia or Africa. Some of what’s there is better than what’s here. We don’t, or we try not to, judge people by the color of their skin or their gender or any other “accidental attribute.” We’ve tried to send our kids to “highfalutin'” schools. We try to do good, even if only by contributing to our public broadcasting station. We’ve worked hard to provide a better life for our kids, just as our parents did for us. We have tried to elect government officials who would keep us safe, improve our economic wellbeing and enhance our country’s standing abroad. Something has gone very badly wrong. Barack Obama is different, thank God. He seems to understand our ideals, and he is able to articulate them without sounding weak or naïve. He also seems to realize something better than we do. Even our economic well being would be better if we lived up to those ideals.

The meaning of a word is a function of how it relates to all the other words used to express the lived experience of those who use them. Same word plus different experience equals different meanings.

Like a fly hitting a spider web, one word can activate an entire culture’s deepest hopes and fears, whether anyone else thinks it should or shouldn’t.

I think I’ve got it…

October 8, 2008

Maybe.

This economic mess has been a long time abrewin’. There are a lot of things we can point at and say that’s where it started. My belief, as I have written before, is that it started with the Reagan/Bush/Cheney/McCain economic philosophy. It assumed that economic growth stems from wealth starting at the top, among the wealthiest, and trickling down to the rest of us. The tax policy corollary of that assumption is that the taxes paid by the rich should be reduced as much as possible.

Jump now to the year 2000 and the start of George W. Bush’s presidency. His tax cuts disproportionately favored the wealthy and initiated the largest transfer of wealth in our history. Since then the top couple percent of our population has had a huge increase in their income, and the rest of us haven’t had a raise,

Both groups, the rich and the rest of us, developed serious problems. We saw our buying power decline. It became harder to buy groceries and gasoline. Medical bills became more of a burden. Cars got more expensive. Higher education became less affordable. The rich, on the other hand, had to figure out where to invest their money.

The solution to both problems — real estate.

The rich could buy expensive condos and flip them. They could buy mortgage backed securities. Home prices would go up. The rest of us could refinance our homes and use the equity to pay bills.

Oops. We now have to pay for food, gas, health care, college, a first mortgage and an adjustable rate home equity loan that is going to do what? Reset? OMG!

Oops. The rich have flipped condos like pancakes, but there is no one left to eat the last one. Just why can’t the poor pay their debts?

If the money didn’t trickle down, where did it go? Is it under shell number one, the rich? Or shell number two, the rest of us? Or shell number three, Halliburton?

Investment Is Not the Answer

October 4, 2008

Would you start a business if you knew you would not have customers?

Would you borrow money if you knew you could not pay it back?

We learned from the reporting about the credit crisis that many businesses rely on borrowing to pay their bills. The bailout will reopen the spigot so they can borrow again.

How do they pay back their loans?

You and I and every Joe 6 Pack need money to buy from businesses and to pay our mortgages. Our incomes have been stagnant for at least seven years.

We don’t need tax cuts “to stimulate investment.” We need tax changes to stimulate consumption.

The rich don’t need more money. Everyone else does.