Friday, July 29, 2011

What The Debt Crisis Says About America

If you survey the media commenting on the United States debt crisis, from news programs, to blogs, to Op Ed pages, to talk radio, you get an overwhelming sense that a) American citizens are not really sure what the debt ceiling is and what defaulting on our debt obligations means, b) the Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are in no hurry to explain it to their constituencies, except in terms that denigrate their opposition, c) the President, true-to-form, is trying to get Congress to do its job without having to do it for them, and d) no one can agree on what the actual impact of a Federal default would be, good, bad, or otherwise.

It is interesting to note, in light of the goings-on, that something that is a duty of the Congress -- protecting the economic health, safety, and prestige -- has now become a lightning rod for politicking, a generator of hyperbole, and a highly-visible failure of our national government. No other nation would think to risk its economic power and standing in the world by allowing what should be a trivial matter -- maintaining a balanced budget and protecting the debt it has incurred -- to become a political hot potato. Many a government (Greece, Spain, Mexico, Ireland, etc.) have found themselves in financial dire straits, but have also managed to go about doing what was necessary to bring those conditions under control, even where that meant ceding economic power to other nations in return for loan guarantees. It has not looked good for the presiding government, but austerity and outside help looked a lot better than allowing their nation to collapse.

So what is our problem? Why have we, still the largest economy in the world, let our economic house fall into such disarray. My friends, we have only ourselves to blame.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dying Of The Day

August 2nd, 2011 will dawn like any other day. Some places will have sunshine, some places clouds, some places will be warm, some will be hot. People will shamble and shuffle through the hours, taking care of children, going to work, shopping for groceries, reading blogs, watching the news, and all the other things that mark a day passed in the life of a human being in the United States of America. Nothing truly shocking will happen... on the surface.

Yet, like an iceberg, most of what happens to our nation happens out of sight, a mass of motions, bargains, and deals that we do not see, nor do we have an inkling about. They happen on floors crowded with cubicles, in rooms with long tables and leather chairs, and corner offices, and back rooms, through teleconferences, emails, furtive phone calls, and quiet handshakes. And on that August day, a decision, really many decisions that rolled up into a singular one, will potentially cause the erosion of our nation's power and prestige, not to mention imperil an economy which, while on the mend, is nowhere near ready to move out of intensive care.

August 2nd, 2011, is the day the money runs out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making The Case For Liberalism

"Liberalism" is being turned into an epithet by some, and is being misrepresented as "Socialism" or "Communism" by others. Its proud tradition is being sullied in many quarters: by the media, by pundits, by talking-heads, by the ignorant and unsophisticated. It is being dragged through the mud by those who are afraid of it like children are afraid of the bogeyman.

All of this comes about because fear is being peddled instead of reason, bigotry instead of humanism, dogma instead of fact. Liberalism has been tarred-and-feathered by those who are afraid of its tenets, even as they misstate those tenets to their own advantage. Let us talk not at Liberalism, but about it, and let us set the record straight as to what it means.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

God Go With You

I saw a T-shirt the other night, which lead me to deeper thought:

Dear God,

How can you allow all the violence currently in our schools?


A Concerned Citizen


Dear Concerned Citizen,

I am not allowed into you schools.



I admit to paraphrasing, but my reproduction is fairly accurate. The gist of the shirt was simple: violence inherent in today's schools is a direct result of not allowing prayer within them. A most fallacious premise if there ever was one.

Monday, July 18, 2011

To Whom We Are Indebted

Those who stand up in Congress as representatives of the individual states in the United States of America take an oath, to support and defend the Constitution. That vow is taken to impress upon the legislator, in the most solemn terms possible, the import of the task ahead of them. That oath binds them to the desire of the Founding Fathers, that the people should pick representatives that not only could convey their feelings on matters pertaining to the whole country as they related to the states, but could do what was best for the nation above the mandate of the people.

While politicking has always been an unfortunate by-product of government, any government, it was hoped that The People would monitor their legislators, and take the necessary steps to ensure the smooth functioning of Federal government, by removing those who were more interested in self-promotion than promotion of the general welfare. Unfortunately, the electorate has abdicated its responsibility, to the point that legislators now lead their constituents around by the nose, and embroil them in the same charades and shenanigans that impede the course of governance. The independent voice of the citizen has been replaced by the toadying of many to the obfuscatory exhortations of a malevolent few, and by a wholesale complaisance with the course of government, writing it off as a waste of a vote.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ask Not, What Your Country Can Do For You

But ask what you, can do for your country:

  • Remember always, that no matter how disagreeable it might be, others have the right to say what they will, worship as they will, and live their lives as they will. This nation is founded on the liberty of the individual.
  • The idea behind our nation, is that many come together to form one. Many people form one State; many States form one nation. Despite our differences, and the differences between our States, we are one Nation, indivisible.
  • The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Everything we do must ensure the health, prosperity, and safety of all Americans.
  • In times of crisis, it is important that we band together, and help each other. Even the smallest gift or gesture can mean the world to someone who needs our help.
  • We are all equal. Any person who lives under the mantel of "Citizen of the United States of America," deserves the same rights, privileges, and liberty as any other, no matter what we may think. To think less is to denigrate what those who fought in The Revolutionary War were trying to accomplish.
  • Know our history. Know that we have not always acted honorably, nor decently, but have striven always to advance, to do better, to make up for our missteps. Our nation and its system are not perfect, but each day gives us a new opportunity to right wrongs and work on improving ourselves and our country.
  • Remember that you have responsibilities. The Founding Fathers took a giant leap of faith in handing the governance of the entire nation over to its citizens and their elected representatives, but they thought, deep down, that as serious people, we could handle the challenges. It is important to participate in our democracy. It is important to be engaged in the civil responsibilities that come with citizenship. The system does not operate properly if we remain aloof and unconcerned.
  • Patriotism is not an uncritical adherence to the word and letter of law, or to what has come before. It is doing those things which advance the nation and improve its stature amongst the nations of the world. There is nothing wrong with patriotism, if it is tempered by compassion, concern, and cooperation.
To all you who are Citizens of the United States, and to those who live here who hope to someday know that honor, I bid you a glorious, peaceful, and safe Independence Day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fighting For Independence

My Fellow Citizens, I appeal to you in the name of all that is True and Right with the World, to follow me in Acts of Revolution, to cast off the Tyranny that grips us right now. I speak of none other than The Monied Powers, those Charlatans of Capitalism, who place the Value of the Almighty Dollar ahead of the Value of the Human Life, who speak of the Yolk of Taxation restraining their ability to Create Jobs, even as they pay Not One Thin Dime to the Public Treasury, seeing fit to ship American Jobs to Foreign Lands where they can pay far less for Labor and are Free of Their Obligations to the country that has Supported Them.