Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Episode 70: Change We Could Believe In

There is a problem in America. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to live these days. Food costs too much, money is hard to come by, if you’re sick and uninsured, you’re screwed, and every solution seems to be a short term fix. There is a lot of talk in the Obama administration about looking into the future, and I do believe they are doing that. However, their eyes are so far down the road sometimes, it seems they lose track of the short term goals that need to be accomplished in order to achieve the long term goals. Let’s look at some things that have happened in my short absence:

Cash for Clunkers
A government program to entice people to trade in their cars to buy fuel efficient ones by receiving a $4500 credit on a trade for an old car. The program cost $1 Billion dollars, and it ended a few days ago. Ford, Chrysler, and GM reported their inventory was, for the first time in a long time, very low which is great news. Is it likely those sales figures will sustain with the closing of the program? Probably not. If you give a mouse a cookie, it will eat it. In essence, we spent $1 Billion dollars to make far less than that on sales and fuel savings.

This debate is just about over. The democrats lost control of the message and never got it back. During the campaign, Obama made it personal. He told the story of his dying mother who was arguing with insurance providers on whether her treatment would be covered because of pre-existing conditions. That was a great place to start the debate. During the campaign, Obama weathered the accusations and slander storm by sticking to the personal matters – the single mother with 3 children who works three jobs and attends all the PTA meetings, the elderly couple who saw their life’s work vanish in the stock market crisis, the teacher who has to teach 45 children in a small classroom that is 60 years old and in terrible repair. Now, he is going on the attack, playing the blame game, pitting democrats against republicans, and pretty much abandoned the spirit of cooperation he promised.

While I’m thinking of it, wouldn’t make a lot of sense to give small businesses the money for healthcare? They could split the costs of healthcare to make it more affordable to small businesses, offer free healthcare to Americans 18 and under who have social security cards, and provide unemployment health insurance like we do with jobs. That way, every business HAS to have a healthcare plan (which would be private) so every working American has healthcare. Unemployed Americans file for free healthcare using the same conditions for unemployment – showing they are actively looking for work, make less than X amount of dollars, etc.

The Economy
Jobs are still being lost at alarming rates. He campaigned to create or save 3 million jobs by creating more jobs at home, reinvesting in our infrastructure, rebuilding our schools, paving the way for 21st century innovations, and getting broadband access to every American. Yet he wants to tax the rich, tax businesses (mostly the larger ones), and still hasn’t fully addressed the banking situation that makes it difficult for small business owners to operate their businesses. Let alone effectively tackling the healthcare issue to ease the burden off small business. There is no shame in a democrat lowering taxes for businesses, especially small businesses, as long as we make provisions to reform the system and close the loopholes that help people to unfairly and unjustly benefit from the system.

The War
I have a deep post coming up on the war very soon. I’d like to ask my readers, on a scale of 1 -10, 10 being the highest, how much do you care about catching Osama bin Laden at this point? Personally, he has been downgraded to a “Target of Opportunity.” We lost 76 of our brothers and sisters in arms since the new Afghanistan plan. The exit strategy is just as non-existent as it was with Bush. While I’d never suggest they are fighting this war for nothing, Obama is going the absolutely wrong way about this war. Oh yeah, we’re STILL in war aren’t we…

I’ll defer to Nate Silver and his bulls-eye-accurate polling abilities for the actual numbers, but living in New York again, I live amongst the richest and poorest in the country. Going strictly by unscientific observation, I have concluded:

There is an inverse relationship between those who favor Obama and those who don’t, such that the less money one makes the more they love Obama and conversely, the more money one makes the less the like Obama.

For the middle class, it depends on your region and socio-political philosophy. While I’m upset with Obama, I do think that with much fine tuning he can regain control of his agenda, because I personally believe in doing things for the common good. However if you are of the belief that one’s treasures are his own, and it is solely his choice to decide who to share with, you probably don’t like Obama. The good news is Obama’s policies are consistent with his actions for his whole political career. He has spent his political life as the defender of the little guy, trying to get them to a point where they can compete with those of higher socio-economic status. He was especially successful with this approach early in his career as a community organizer, and was able to translate those results in the Senate. However as president, he must realize that diminishing the socio-economic gap is not the way to long-term economic prosperity and longevity, it is instead a by-product of invigorating the middle class. We saw this in the 90s with Bill Clinton. Part of the reason why crime was so low in my city of New York was a lot of people had jobs! It wasn’t catering to the poor class that generate jobs, it was creating opportunities for lower-middle class people to create the jobs that employed the poor class, thus lifting them up into the middle class, and lifting the once lower-middle class up a bar as well!

Such government programs like clunkers for cash, or local city programs like Jobs Corps do stimulate movement in the lower echelon of the socio-economic chain, but government programs have never been a suitable way to garner long term improvement of unemployment. They were intended to be ways to train employees for better jobs in private enterprise. When a government program is not used as it was intended, it becomes a serious drain on the state, which is exactly the opposite of what we need right now. In order for Obama to achieve his vision, he needs to get the middle class in action and now! No more arguing, finger pointing, and partisan crap. I think we all want the same thing, so let’s put our heads together and make it happen, starting with getting private enterprise back in the fold.
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8 comments: on "Episode 70: Change We Could Believe In"

Left Coast Rebel said...

The Law - Great post, nice to see you and cgen back in action in the blogosphere. I agree that we all want the same thing, that bringing down the middle and high income crowd to raise the lower socio-economic population is destined to fail. It is causing our malaise and not allowing us to rise out of our horrible recession. I have been a high-income person and an achiever since I was a young man. I have always wanted to be successful and wealthy. I view Obama as an enemy of my dreams. Everything that he does, everything that he pushes for legislatively actually inhibits me and my business, (almost everything).

This may point to the anger that you sense on my blog too....I know that it may be tough for someone that is more liberal than I to read it. I commend your integrity.

Nick said...

Are you sure you're still a liberal? You're sounding more like someone starting to realize they've been fed BS for a while, rather than the typical eager Cool-aid drinkers. Not that I mind (far from it), but you may have to re-categorize yourself at some point; we all know how much this administration hates dissent...

I agree with all of your points, for reference.

Cash for Clunkers is a straight-up handout for the auto industry (and, for the most part, the foreign auto industry), and it's not going to help anything in the long-term. Personally, I think it was primarily done to make the nationalization of Chrysler/GM seem more successful in a naive historical context, but maybe I'm giving the Obamanation too much credit. McCain had it right, though: "why not cash for refrigerators?" It makes just as much sense, is just as economically distortive and manipulative, and an equally worthwhile expenditure of taxpayer dollars which the government is borrowing from future generations.

Health care "reform" is a utter failure, morphed from a reasonable idea to a gigantic socialist-style takeover of the entire medical industry coupled with the largest expansion of government control and entitlement programs in nearly a century. One could argue if the end-result was envisioned even when the idea was first proposed, and all the rhetoric about "fixing" and "helping" were just window dressing to ram the larger agenda through, but the fact remains that the current proposal would be a disaster for the country, and we can only hope it's defeated. I think several people have proposed alternative, more reasonable fixes for health care (you, me, several others), which just make it more obvious the Obamanation doesn't want a fix, it wants an assimilation.

The economy is still bad, and it's becoming painfully obvious that Obama's policies predictably are not helping. I actually laughed when he went out of his way recently to try to "remind" the American people that the economic problems were caused by Bush; it seems even moderates are cluing in to how bogus that excuse continues to be. It remains difficult for the average person to connect the causality between taxing the rich and businesses, and damaging the economy, but the next couple of years should give the GOP ample opportunity to pound that message in so frequently that even very dense people might have that epiphany, and that would be a very beneficial change.

You're totally correct about the inverse relationship, and statistics also bear that out. The correlation is true for most Republican/Democrat politicians, but probably even more so for Obama, because he's the most outwardly socialist liberal in office in a while. The great failing of populist Democracies is that they rise and fall on the intelligence and good judgment of the voters, and I fear that will be America's undoing.

Anyway, great post; as LCR said, it's nice to see some liberals coming around. :)

Andrew33 said...

TL, you posted this:"There is an inverse relationship between those who favor Obama and those who don’t, such that the less money one makes the more they love Obama and conversely, the more money one makes the less the like Obama "

Who is going to give you a job, or go out to eat and tip the waiter? Liberalism sounds nice but it is a concept of how people think things should work. How things should bee and how life is are 2 very different things. In order to bring everyone to one level as liberalism teaches, you have to bring everyone down to the lowest level. They tried it in Russia for a century and what did it get them besides death and poverty? As I said, I don't see very many "help wanted signs" in our local homeless communities or under bridges. The idea of taking from the rich sounds good, until you have to ask who do you take from when the rich all leave or are broke? Look in the mirror for the answer.

Kate said...

Really, just a great post here. I think you're hitting the nail on the head. I, too, believe in common good and can fully appreciate the desire to help the poor. I taught children of poverty for years (yes, in a classroom that was not 60, but 80 years old) and definitely see the burden that that sector of society faces. I have never doubted that healthcare was in need of some serious help, but I will say that I think your ideas here far surpass those being floated in Washington. Brilliant, truly.

I also agree with your statements regarding jobs. In my opinion, most Americans, at the very root, really don't want handouts and government entitlements - they want to work and achieve the American Dream. They want to feel good at the end of the day and would benefit from an opportunity to do so. So I'm with you here, with creating jobs that will fuel prosperity, thus providing opportunity to all. Remember the "Made in the USA" commercials?

I think my issue with Obama is that he seems to be choosing concepts over economics. We cannot minimize the socio-economic gap by spending trillions of dollars, giving money away in the name of help, and raising taxes on the producers. At the end of the day, it will never be enough money to fund all of the entitlement programs - and the amount of money that makes one "rich" will become lower and lower. Yes, that will close the gap. But not the right way. As a teacher, I truly relate to this: In a classroom, you do not make the assignment easier so that all the kids get an A+. Nor do you tell the struggling students, "Oh, well, you're just not smart." You give the struggling students the tools they need to do the assignment: to work hard, to give 100% effort. They want to do the assignment - and when they do it on their own they feel good, they feel smart. And pretty soon, they have the tools and then they are smart.

The Law said...

@ LCR, thanks it's great to be back. I do see where you're coming from, and a lot of business owners are upset with Obama's policies. That's why I stress so hard that it is important for the opposition party to actually oppose, and not mud sling (I'm not accusing you of such a thing, speaking generally here). When the right has a legitimate concern and then Glen Beck throws in a ACORN reference for extra sting, everyone focuses on the name calling and not the policies... I have always argued unilateral government, no matter which side is in charge, is a bad thing

@ nick, lol, I'm still very much a liberal, though I'd probably be closer to a "blue dog" democrat I suppose. I don't usually disagree with republican and libertarian economic ideas, but I tend to disagree with the way people at the top maniupulate the capitalist system to increase their riches and hurt those under them. I also believe there is a place for government spending on social programs, but such programs need to be targeted, and have lasting effects. For example, Job Corps is a great program to train disadvantaged Americans for better jobs in the private sector, by using government money to pay them for job experience. When Job Corps becomes an actual profession, the program drains money from the state. Social Sercurity is an example of a good long tern program because it offers some kind of money to live on after one retirement if one doesn't have a job with a pension (though increasing living costs necessitate the need for SS reform).

@Andrew33, Liberalism does not require everyone to be at the lowest common denominator. At its core, liberalism champions human and civil rights. For example, why is fair for two people in love with each other not able to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage because they are of the same sex? Why is it fair for companies to exploit their customers to make a profit? These are the fights liberals have. We want a strong middle clas ust as much as you do. It is unwise to mistake far-left socialist ideologies as main stream ideas, as it is unwise for people to think far-right people are fascist, racist, jesus-freak nutbags. The majority of Americans are really at the middle of the spectrum, maybe a tad to the right, and there is more common groudn between us than you think.

@ Kate, thanks for the kind words Kate. I too am a teacher, and you're giving underacheivers A+s by making the work easier struck a chord with me. It is actually what is happening in our school system now and it is corroding the system from the inside. Instilling such economic policies will surely corrode our economy from the inside out as well.

TRUTH 101 said...

An observation you indirectly make here is that we are on on some some form of government payroll.

The automakers with the CARS program for one example. Car dealers all over are singing the praises of this program. Most of them in my town donate to republican candidates and write letters wailing for less government at least once a year. Mostly during election season.

I can't think of many small or large businesses that have not called for tax breaks. Tax increment finanacing. Government bonding authority. Money for research and development.

I agree with you on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Either raise taxes enough to pay to do these right, or leave. As Rush Limbaugh said during the Clinton Presidency in regards to the situations he was involved: "We can't afford it."

yaguara2003 said...

I support cash for clunkers its actually turning car sales around
and the dow has gone up from 5000s to 9000s. keep in mind we inherited billions, if not trillions of debt from George Bush for 8 years and obama is doing everything he can to fix this mess.

I disagree with Obama oN health care, but I think cash for clunkers is a good plan

Anonymous said...

I'm a Left Libertarian{as a realist} and a Libertarian Socialist/Social Anarchist
and I am in strong agreement with Marxists, Social Democrats,etc, on class struggle, privelage, alienation, greed, the need for more egalitarianism/equality and social justice and so on.
I am a part of the lower class myself.

I noticed a certain phenomenon during the last election and since. The far right neocons as well as market/economically conservative libertarian types stupidly using scare tactics and making Obama out to be some sorta Stalin-esque communist totalitarian{oh the absurdity}, and the left and moderates united to treat the man like he's some kinda superhero or demigod saviour. Everyones expectations of the man were so incredibly unrealistic, sure he used simplistic inpsiring slogans{what politician does'nt?}- but I've never seen so many so easily and naievely sucked into slogans and worship of superficial stuff like race{don't deny it people}, oratory skills, charisma, and once again...slogans; rather than things of substance or reality, most of his followers were hypocrites under hopenosis.
Either he was and is demonized or was/is essentially worshiped.

I never bought into either absurd extreme. I looked at the man realistically. I also look att the fact the man himself asked the citizens in several speeches to not expect the "change we can believe in" to occur overnight not to expect too much of him{on that front or in that particular regard he was and is still honest}. He did intentionally get peoples hopes up to high though. However, the people should take some bloody responsibility, I mean are the masses really that fuckin dense, sheepish, and stupid? That was a rhetorical question...of course they are, lol!

I'm slightly dissapointed with Obama on a few fronts, but not severely. I was and am still open mindedly caitious/skeptical about him as I am about any leade ror human beeing. He has been president for a year only, and has had to contest with alot of scary shit from the far right and alot of opposition to the substantial changes he wanted to make- both by the right and by the superfial left who said they wanted these changed but then in their greed, hypocrisy, and stupidity prevented it. So, I say...give the guy more time before condeming or highly praising him.

So, if you look at shit rationally, skeptically, and realistically you won't be so dissalusioned. What the fuck did people expect? a messiah? a demon? Yes, they expected that{depending on their political view on the spectrum}, both had and still have their heads up their asses and the people do as well. Hence they are dissalusioned because they expected a ubermench god{or a devil} of a man and found out he was, like them, in the words of Nietzsche- human all too human.

In closing, leaders deserve blame. But the "people", the fucking idiots they are should blame themselves as much if not more. They want celebrities not leaders. They want authorities and saviours, not leaders. Thyey want to be sheep and hypocrities and expect one figurehead to solve all the worlds problems. When they don't get it, when they find out they have deluded themselves with mindless hero worship or scaore-goating demonizations, they are upset. Fools! hahaha!

Continue in your delusions.

In Reason:
Bill Baker

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