Tag Archives: Class Warfare
“I know we’ve come along way.
We’re changing day to day.
But tell me, where do the children play?”
(Where do the children play? – Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam – 1970)
Much has been made this election cycle about the future of our children and grandchildren, mostly by the newly fiscally responsible Republicans that are suddenly and inexplicably against debt and deficits. Great! It is certainly encouraging that the Party of “Deficits Don’t Matter!” has finally seen the light.
Just don’t ask them why they didn’t do something about deficits and debt when they held power. That is “looking at the past and besides, the Democrats made us do it.”
In 1980, I briefly considered a vote for Ronald Reagan for President because he promised (!) to balance the Federal budget. I blame it on an LSD flashback from the Sixties. Of course, Reagan never came close to balancing the budget and, in fact, tripled the National Debt. The truth is, a Republican president has never even proposed a balanced Federal budget since Ike. Let me think, that is, let’s see, um, ………………………. a long damned time.
Debt and deficits have been hashed and rehashed ad nauseam, so we’ll not do it again here. When the “other side” rails against the “highest deficits and debt in history” feel free to remind them that while the deficit is approaching 10% of the GDP in 2010, it reached 30% during World War II. The debt shortly after the War was at 130% of GDP, far above the current level of less than 90%.
It is completely reasonable to remind people of those facts, given that the country is in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression – an economic collapse that was not ended until the War was well underway. Unemployment reached 25% during the Depression. It topped out around 10% during the Great Recession.
The point is that we are not destroying the future for our children and grandchildren. Without TARP and the Stimulus Bill, the economy would have likely slid into another depression, and that would have left a horrible disaster for our heirs.
So, where do the children play? Well, if we want to truly focus on an answer to that question, we would do well to consider the state of our schools, environment and our place in the world. Bumper stickers slogans are handy for those in the bumper sticker industry, but they do little to address the problems of the nation. We need to take faux emotion out of the equation and use real-world facts and figures.
William Stephenson Clark
(Thread photo is the author’s grandson, Eli.)
If the truth is told, I have to confess to being somewhat of a moderate. I lean to the left, hard to the left some would say, but many of my positions are decidedly more moderate than far left. On social issues, I am decidedly liberal, as if it is a “liberal” position to consider equal rights for all and “giving” women the right to decide their own medical decisions.
I believe in giving folks a hand up, not just a hand out. Most definitely a hand out is warranted at times, but it is my belief that most folks would just as soon have an opportunity to make a place for themselves and their families in this life. I believe in the intent of the Second Amendment, a pro-gun position, but I also believe in strong laws to punish those that use a gun in the act of committing a crime. I am against the Death Penalty but I believe in life without parole for those convicted of heinous crimes. I believe in fiscal responsibility but embrace Keynesian economics. I believe in low taxes, but only when they make economic sense. I believe in war, but only when it is in the (true) national interest of the United States.
So why am I “accused,” sometimes in vile terms, of being a far left socialist that is anti-American?
The positions that I have noted should be mainstream, not positions that are vilified as somehow being “fringe or radical.” Recently, I read on another blog that moderates, or independents, are cowardly and ill-informed. Eh? Somewhere, I got the “radical” idea that we are to educate ourselves on the issues and make an informed decision for ourselves. In 2010, apparently it is not enough to label liberals as evil, but moderates fall into that category as well.
The pendulum always swings right when the left is in control politically, and visa versa. This election season the pendulum is not swinging right, it seems to be stuck on far right. The Tea Baggers are purging RINO’s while attempting to win state-wide general elections without moderates and independents.
There is certainly something strange tainting the waters these days.
William Stephenson Clark
“Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day.
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way.
Oh, Monday mornin’, you gave me no warnin’ of what was to be.
Oh, Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me?”
(“Monday, Monday” – the Mamas and Papas – 1966 – John Phillips)
Ah, Monday, the traditional start of the work week for millions of Americans. The song says, in its condemnation of Mondays, “every other day of the week is fine.” In popular nomenclature, it is known as “Blue Monday,” the day that marks the end of the weekend and the beginning of the drudgery of just another workweek.
In years past, that drudgery was something that the “working man” endured, week after week, so that he could make it to the weekend and spend sometime with his family. If he was lucky, he got a two-week vacation in the summer and took a road trip with the wife and kids to the mountains or the lake. That was his life, week after week, working for the same old company, until he earned his retirement and hung up his lunch pail. If he was relatively healthy, he might look forward to ten or twelve years of retirement before being laid to rest.
Life is no longer like that. For millions of Americans, there is no job to go to on Monday morning. Working for the same company for years is very unusual, given the plant closings and migration of jobs south and east. The company’s loyalty to the worker no longer exists and the worker’s loyalty to the company has faded over the years.
America is no longer home to the “working man.” It now takes two incomes to support a family and to guard against layoffs and job eliminations. The drudgery of the work week has been replaced, for so many, by the drudgery of endless and fruitless searching for a job.
America’s greatness has been the strength of our working class – men and women toiling in our factories and fields, putting food on the tables of their families and gold in the pockets of their employers. Now, the gap between the rich and poor is as great as it has been in decades and job security is a distant memory.
Where do we go from here? Are America’s best days behind her?
What is the next chapter for the American “working man?”
William Stephenson Clark
Once upon a time, in a land between the seas called ‘Merika, the evil multi-headed monster known as ‘Publican crawled from beneath the rocks where he had been hiding for two years and announced that he had a new plan, one that he called a “Pledge to ‘Merika!” ‘Publican was sure that the people of ‘Merika had forgotten his last plan, one that had led the people of ‘Merika to the brink of destruction.
During the last reign of ‘Puplican, the people were led into financial ruin unlike any that had been seen in nearly eighties years, since ‘Publican’s grandfather had stood silently as the country plunged into the Great Depression. Now, ‘Publican has a new plan to sell to the fine people of ‘Merika. Unfortunately, most of the people have short memories and have chosen to believe that everything was just wonderful during the last reign.
The final chapter of this new fairy tale has yet to be written, but the ending is easily predicted. the tale is the same old tale – tax cuts accompanied by promises of cuts in spending that never seem to come.
So far, the multi-headed monster has come up with spending cuts of $100 billion per year, for a total of $1 trillion over the next decade. To go with that, they have tax cuts totaling $4 trillion for a net addition of $3 trillion to the national debt.
Does that sound like the same old fairy tale?
No one is quite dumb enough to believe all of the promises made by politicians during a campaign. Well, most of us are not that dumb, but this new fairy tale goes far beyond the usual campaign rhetoric. For one, it is based on falsehoods. Note:
“It declares that “the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” Not true. So far this year government employment has declined slightly, while private sector employment has increased by 763,000 jobs.”
Well, people of ‘Merika we have a new fairy tale – a new/old tale sold to you by the same monster, ‘Publican, that brought you the heartache of past.
Where is the Big Billy Goat Gruff when you need him?
William Stephenson Clark
Well, at long last, the Republican Party of No! has delivered their master plan to fix all that ails America. The newly minted “Pledge to America” (not to be confused with the Contract on America) promises that all will be okay if we just elect a majority from the GOP.
The Republicans, after exhaustive research, have determined that our problems are all the fault of the Democrats. Taxes are too high (despite being the lowest that they have been in over fifty years) and spending is too high, also. The solutions are simple – make the Bush tax cuts permanent and freeze spending at 2008 levels.
Now, Republicans and Tea Baggers have been telling us for two years now that debt and deficits are the reasons for the Great Recession, so you would expect that their plan takes a huge bite out of spending and deficits.
If you did, you would be wrong. The grand plan from the Republicans would save an astounding $100 billion per year, before the tax cuts kicked in. Taking the tax program into consideration continues annual deficits for the foreseeable future and adds nearly $4 trillion to the debt over the next decade.
The Republicans should be congratulated – in two years they have taken a scalpel to the budget and come up with areas to be cut totaling $100 billion. Of course, they can’t tell us where they are going to cut, but we should trust them, right? After all, they did a bang up job the last time around.
The GOP has assured us that they will not be cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense or veterans benefits. They are going to freeze Congressional expenses. Great!
The GOP also plans to save America by repealing HCR and replace it with something that they have yet to develop. Whatever it is, you can be assured that it is going to be as good as all their other great plans they have come up with over the years.
So, breathe easy, it’s all okay now, the Republicans will soon be in charge once again. So far, they haven’t announced any plans to start a war with anyone that isn’t a threat to the US, but they have plenty of time to drum up a case for going to war with Iran.
Don’t you feel better now?
William Stephenson Clark
Unless Sam Brownback gets caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy, he will Kansas’ next Governor, and all of us may come to regret it. Sam makes no bones about his “faith” and he has every intention of imposing that philosophy on the rest of Kansas.
Sam doesn’t believe in abortion – under any circumstances. That’s right. No abortions, no exceptions. That means no abortions even in cases of rape, incest, the viability of the fetus, the health or even the life of the mother. Let that sink in for a moment – even if a fourteen year old gets raped and is impregnated, Sam doesn’t want her to have the option of having an abortion. Even if the prospective mother is likely to die if she carries the fetus to term, Sam doesn’t want her to have the option of having an abortion. The same goes for cases where there is no signs of life from the fetus or if it is severely deformed or even brain-dead.
Sam also believes in the so-called “Fair Tax.” I used the term “so-called” because it is anything but fair. Under the “Fair Tax” program, lower-income people would see an immediate increase in tax rates of a monumental proportion. One of the numbers I have seen tossed about is 22%, that is, everyone would pay that tax rate with no deductions. Pretty good deal, right? Then, of course, the higher income tax payers would see a reduction in rates as much as 13% points, from about 35% to the previously mentioned 22%.
Sam has a lot of great ideas for Kansas – eliminating corporate taxes and drastically reducing regulations, especially those that affect the environment. “Protecting families” is another of Sam’s pet projects. Presumably that means taking what few rights they have away from gays and lesbians. Sam also says that he is going to create jobs for Kansans. Why he hasn’t done that yet is a mystery, never to be solved.
So, just when you think that Kansas could not be any worse off, along comes Sam.
Thank God for I-70.
William Stephenson Clark
Autumn is my favorite time of year. The days get cooler as we approach winter, the leaves change color, kids are back in school and life just seems to be more invigorating. That, and the football season begins on college campuses and pro stadiums.
Metaphorically, football is much like politics and life in general. The “good guys” don’t always win, sometimes it isn’t even very fair and the “right team” can be easily upset, even when they have the lead. In football, it seems that any team can knock off another on any given day.
In life, the same is true. Life is rarely fair, and the bad guys seem to win more often than the good guys.
Four years ago, the Democratic Party seized control of the House and Senate from the Republicans. Two years ago, Barack Obama was elected president in an Electoral College landslide. It looked like the “good guys” were finally in control and a progressive agenda would be realized. Everything seemed to be in place for a bright future for the Party of “evil liberals.”
Everything except the economy – the Great Recession changed all the rules.
Like the winless football team that rises up and smites the champions, the recession handcuffed the progressive agenda. The Republicans seized the initiative from the Democrats and backed the “good guys” up to their own goal line. Republicans have a unique ability to shamelessly ignore their past failures and pass off their “new” agenda as somehow being different from their “old” agenda. Unfortunately, the voters are incapable of seeing through the deceit.
In 2010, the Democrats are likely to lose both the House and Senate. President Obama may well be one term president. The progressive agenda appears to be dead and a return to a far right philosophy seems inevitable. In football parlance, we had a big lead at half time and blew it all in the second half.
Well, in football, the schemes of championship teams are frequently copied by the lesser teams. The Democrats need to take the playbook of the Republicans and recognize that there is more than one way to cross the goal line.
The Democrats have to learn to play the game with the Republicans. They have failed miserably, especially over the past two years. Now is the time for a new game plan.
William Stephenson Clark
Well, we have been told by various people, in various ways, that all America needs to do to get back on the right track is (insert bumper sticker slogan here) and everything will return to the halcyon days of the Fifties, when all men were like Ozzie, all women like Harriet, and the children were just like David and Ricky.
Except we got Ozzie Osbourne, instead of Ozzie Nelson.
Regardless of your position on our “moral decline,” step back a moment and consider whether your vote could truly change morality in America. We have often tinkered with laws attempting to legislate morality, often by denying free choice and violating the Constitution. The “War on Drugs” failed to reduce drug use. Laws attempting to regulate sexual behaviors have been ruled unconstitutional. Attempts to void “Roe v Wade” have only chipped away at the foundation of choice.
And now, unbelievably, there exists a possibility, that within the next year, laws restricting gay marriage may be stricken from the books.
So now, can we stop with the voting on what we perceive to be the moral failings of our fellow Americans and begin to address the issues that truly affect us all?
When you clean out your garage, often the best course of action is to drag everything out into the driveway, trash what you can, organize the rest and put it up in an orderly fashion. Well, let’s “trash” the moral divisions that divide us – we’re not going to change them anyway – and let’s get organized, prioritize and proceed in an orderly fashion.
While politicians and talking heads are flitting about, whining about the moral decay of America and what they think should be done about it, the actual issues of the day are being obscured by a fog of mindless partisanship and self-serving bombast.
Aaron and James are going to pay the same taxes as Erin and Jim, so let’s address that issue and not whether Aaron and James are going to burn in Hell. If James and Jim are both out of work and trying desperately to figure out a way to pay the mortgage, their bankers only have one issue in mind – money.
The so-called “moral issues” that divide us are going to matter little if we cannot unite as a country and deal with the real problem that face each of us.
This I know to be true; I had lunch with Aaron and Erin last week and they both expressed the same thought to me.
William Stephenson Clark
Recently, in a conversation with a hard right individual, they started a sentence with the words “this once great country.” Well, being the calm, cool, collected person that I am, I went ballistic.
Despite our shortcomings, we are still a great country.
Thomas Frank wrote a book (2004) entitled “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” in which he detailed how conservatives have hijacked the American lower classes by appealing to “social concerns” at the expense of other issues of importance to the same groups.
(Interesting enough, the same book has been published in the UK and Australia, but using the title of this column.)
Why do folks vote against their own best interests in favor of positions against social issues like abortion, gay marriage and other “hot button” topics?
Abortions in the United States have been steadily declining since 1998. There is no reason to think that this tend will not continue, as more and more people are educated about birth control and alternatives to abortion. In my view the abortion rate is still far too high, but I feel that there are many factors in play with those statistics, not the least of which is the continuing issue of young people using proper birth control.
Gay marriage is another subject all together. Only about four percent of the American populous is gay, yet opposition to gay rights is at a seventy percent level nationwide. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that half of gay people want to get married to their partner. That would mean that there would be approximately 2.3 million gay marriages in the United States.
This bothers people? One point five percent of Americans might be in a gay marriage? The world must be coming to an end.
And for these reasons, among others, people vote against their own economic and social well-being?
The divorce rate for first marriages in America is 41%, for second marriages it is 60% and for third marriages it is 73%. If people were truly concerned about protecting “traditional marriage,” they might want to work on those totals and ignore gay folk!
(Totals skewed by Zaza Gabor, Liz Taylor and Larry King.)
Just when did we, as a society, get so wound up about topics that probably do not affect us, yet we pay little attention to those issues that will actually impact our own and our family’s lives?
(Part II tomorrow)
William Stephenson Clark
There is no doubt that drugs are a major issue in America. Further, the drug cartel wars at the Mexican/American border have made it increasingly dangerous, on both sides of the border. America’s “War on Drugs” is moving towards a forty year mark, yet drug usage remains virtually the same.
What have we accomplished with the “War on Drugs?”
Well, we have locked up a bunch of users and spent billions of dollars, but we have produced little actual results in reducing drug usage.
Now, we have a new issue to address – semi-legal usage of prescription drugs. Prescription drugs have been abused for decades, but these days, the use of “legal” drugs has increased to alarming proportions. Not only are “legal” drugs available, but a highly potent drug, meth, can be made from legal substances, right at home.
There is much talk of “gateway” drugs that lead to dependency on more dangerous chemicals. The usual reason for opposing the legalization of marijuana is that it is one of those “gateway” drugs that lead to addictions to harder drugs. “Studies” claim that most hard drug users started with marijuana. They also probably “used” milk, before switching to narcotics.
The fact of the matter is that America is a “High Society.”
There are no easy answers. Drugs like cocaine and crack can kill with the first usage. Meth is virtually instantaneously addictive. Heroin, if overly pure, is a death sentence. Prescription drugs will kill, if used improperly.
Yet tobacco and alcohol are perfectly legal.
So, what are the answers?
Well, for one, legalize marijuana. Enough is enough; the use of marijuana will never be stomped out. It is harmless and non-addictive. It is less harmful to society than alcohol could ever be.
Second, treat the users of drugs such as cocaine, crack, meth and heroin. Incarceration has proven to be a ineffective tools in addressing the usage of hard drugs.
Three, shutdown the “pill mills” and incarcerate Doctors that feed users.
Four, stop messing around and truly go after the distributors and dealers of hard drugs. Break the cycle of cartel-distributor-dealer-user.
And stop pretending that we can “end drug usage.”
(The thread photo is of the cover of the album “Journey to the Center of the Mind” by the Amboy Dukes from 1967, led by Ted Nugent. Nugent claims to always have been drug and alcohol free, and rails against users. I knew Ted Nugent in the late Sixties. He was far from drug and alcohol free. The album cover is proof enough.)
William Stephenson Clark