Friday, October 22, 2010

No Raise in Social Security

Recent news is that Social Security recipients will not get a cost-of-living raise come January. That’s two years in a row that there has been no pay increase for us retired people. The reaction has been immediate and strongly negative. Even my conservative friends who are on Social Security feel they are entitled to a raise in pay. What I would like to remind them is that our country is broke and deeply in debt. We older people elected politicians who put us in that condition so, from my perspective, it’s time for us to bear some of the burden of their folly.

Yes, I know that a lot of social security recipients are barely scraping along financially. Times are hard and not getting a raise, even a small one, is a big disappointment. But, we are just going to have to tighten our belts. It is time for President Obama and all the other politicians both Republican and Democrat to call on the American people for a time of sacrifice. We can’t expect to get America’s fiscal house in order if we don’t make such a sacrifice. The only way to balance the budget is for all Americans, rich and poor alike, to be willing to support the government as it moves into a period of austerity

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Candidate Poses in Nazi Uniform

Rich Iott, Republican congressional candidate in state of Ohio recently stirred up a media storm when pictures of him posing in a Nazi military uniform were discovered. He was immediately labeled as having Nazi sympathies. However, the truth is the picture was taken as part of a historical re-enactment of World War II events. It seems that Iott is somewhat of a history buff and enjoys participation in re-enactment events.

From my perspective, a congressional candidate who has a sense of history should be seen in a positive light. I wish more of our politicians understood a bit about the history of this world. They might have a much broader perspective as they deal with policy implications for the nation. Unfortunately, such a thing does not sell like a full-blown scandal does. And, we must never forget that the media is mostly about making a profit.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christine O’Donnell Dabbled in Witchcraft

In the state of Delaware, Tea Party Republican candidate for the Senate, Christine O’Donnell, made the news by her admission that in the early years of her life she had dabbled in witchcraft. The media descended into a howl that still echoes around the country. From my perspective, what O’Donnell did in her youth should have little if any bearing on her campaign for public office. While I disagree with O’Donnell on several political issues, I certainly think it is unfortunate she is being judged for something she messed around with many years ago. Most people would not want to be held responsible for things they did as teenagers. Politicians should be no exception.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paladino on Gay Pride

New York gubernatorial candidate and Tea Party favorite on the Republican ticket, Carl Paladino, recently stirred up quite a storm with his remarks criticizing his Democratic opponent for attending a gay pride parade. Immediately he was blasted for being anti-gay. However, his subsequent statements have shown that, while he does not support gay marriage in his state, neither does he support discrimination or persecution of homosexual people. However, the media frenzy that followed his first statement seems to obscure the fact that he has a fairly moderate stance on the issue.

From my perspective Paladino has a defensible position on the matter of gay marriage. I have never understood the basis for gay pride. If, as a majority of the gay community insists, sexual preference is something one is born with not an acquired characteristic, what’s to be proud of? Is there any special accomplishment in what you are born with? Why the necessity to publicly flaunt what I consider to be a very private matter? Paladino’s position of opposing gay marriage and at the same time opposing persecution of or discrimination against gay people is well within the mainstream of American thought.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Response to Cal Thomas

A recent commentary by Cal Thomas was titled “Government schools are the shame of this nation.” Thomas takes one situation of poorly performing schools and then paints all public schools in the country with the same brush. It is true that many of our inner-city schools struggle to provide a good education for the children whom they serve. However, Thomas and most other antagonists of public education tend to ignore the societal problems which are so prevalent in the inner cities. These problems have a huge impact on the children who attend school. America will not be able to reform public education until it confronts those issues.

I found it interesting that Thomas held up as an example of good schooling the Sidwell Friends School where President Obama has enrolled his children. Certainly that school provides a high-quality education. However, one wonders why it costs $30,000 a year to educate children who have passed the rigid entrance requirements necessary to gain admission at Sidwell? In Michigan, our public schools have less than a fourth of that amount to carry out their educational responsibility. The public schools, by contrast to Sidwell, must accept all children not just the ones who already score high on standardized tests.

If it takes such a huge amount of money to educate educationally advantaged children, think what is necessary to give an education of equal quality to disadvantaged children! From my perspective, Cal Thomas should consider the disparity in expenditures so evident in his example before he condemns the public schools so broadly.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Pledge IV

What a disappointment The Pledge is. Republican leaders had a golden opportunity to provide leadership for real change in the American political process. What they have given us is the same old worn out stuff which panders to the masses while doing obeisance to special interests. There are some real changes that need to be made in our American system of governance. However, from my perspective, The Pledge largely fails to deliver them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Pledge III

In its Pledge to America, Republicans promise to deregulate business. That was tried just a few years ago and gave us such wondrous things as mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps which led to the near collapse of American financial institutions. In response, George Bush initiated a bailout of the major corporations and Obama wisely followed his lead. Thus, the nation was saved from an economic collapse that would have made the great depression of the last century look like a Sunday school picnic.

From my perspective, government should not institute an inordinate amount of regulation on business. The free market system works best when it is free from overly vigorous restraint. However, it also works best when the market players restrain themselves from the temptation to engage in fraud and manipulation that is destructive of people who trust their surplus funds to them for investment purposes. In recent times American business has not been able to restrain itself. Rather our business leaders have sacrificed themselves on the altar of filthy lucre. Mammon is indeed the deity of choice for the accumulators of wealth in America. Thus, the need for some degree of regulation.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Pledge II

The Republican Party’s Pledge to America promises to put the federal government on a path to a balanced budget. They promise to cut taxes and deregulate business while in another section they propose to increase spending on defense, the war, and national security. Republicans made a similar promise some 30 years ago. Seen at its basic structure, such a plan would decrease income, increase spending and promise to balance the budget all at the same time. When that was first proposed George Bush the elder called it “voodoo economics.” From my perspective, it still is voodoo economics. When implemented, this plan resulted in a tremendous increase in the federal deficit.

George Bush the younger tried the same plan, cutting income and increasing spending. The result was the same: massive increases in the federal deficit. And, the scary thing is Republican leadership pledges to do it again. It is frightening to conceive that the leaders of our nation, after examining the historical record, would try the same failed scheme. But, I think they are very smart people. Maybe they really do know it’s an unworkable plan and are just using it as a political ploy to gain votes. That, from my perspective, is even more frightening.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Pledge I

Last week the Republican Party released its much awaited list of campaign promises. Titling it “A Pledge to America” it laid out a political agenda for actions they will take when they achieve congressional power in the midterm election just a month from now. In some parts of The Pledge they give specific actions they plan to take while, in other parts they speak in vague generalities giving broad philosophical views. The Pledge is really nothing new. Party leaders stayed with the tried-and-true message of conserving traditional Republican values of the past. I was hoping for something new, especially in economic policy. With the burgeoning debt, caused by runaway spending at the same time as we have decreased income at the federal level, we will soon face a major crisis if change is not made. Unfortunately the Republicans have no better plan than the Democrats do.

The Pledge contains some things that, from my perspective, would be beneficial to the political process in the United States. They pledge to reform Congress and to restore people’s trust in that institution. They will make sure that every congressperson has time to read legislation before it is voted on. They also promise open and bipartisan debate. Most important in my view is the pledge to keep proposed legislation simple and straightforward rather than having it be a conglomerate of competing ideas which makes any legislation more complicated than most of us can understand. Republicans failed to deliver on these things a few years ago when they had complete power over all three branches of the federal government. Hopefully they learned the error of their ways and this time they will get it right.