Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama & McCain – Debate Dizziness

I listened to the debate between Obama and McCain last night just enough to get thoroughly disgusted. It didn't take long.

First there was the issue of taxes. I was disappointed to hear Obama say that he disliked them. It sounds like he's bought into the Republican meme that "taxes are bad, and everyone hates them." I've blogged on this before. It's true that the federal government misspends a huge amount of taxes (the military budget), but taxes themselves are good things, they're really cool, and every year I enjoy writing out the check to the state (though not the feds – see above). This distaste for taxes, born in the myths of the Boston Tea Party and Republican wet dreams of drowning government in the bathtub, is what got us $10 trillion in debt.

So both candidates are going to cut taxes left and right (though at least Obama would raise them on the wealthiest Americans). And balance the budget. Uh, huh. This Republican fantasy has been around for 30 years now, and it's time to get over it. Try it in your personal finances. It doesn't work. If we want to either "fix the problems" this country has, or create the country we want, it's time to raise taxes and cut spending, and the place to start cutting is the military budget – half of the entire world's. I believe in a strong military. So let's cut the military budget by $300 billion, so that we'll have the biggest, most expensive, best trained military in the world. We can start by withdrawing garrisons from dozens of countries around the world, and eliminating Star Wars.

Second, both candidates are fixated on "solving our problems." I bought into this mindset recently, so I can't criticize too much here, but it's recently become clear to me, through watching people like Kristin create her life, and now reading The Path of Least Resistance, by Robert Fritz, that that mindset will not get us where we need to go. We need to switch that mindset to one in which we ask ourselves, what kind of country would we like – and then set out to create it.

Think about that for a second. How would it be if, instead of saying, "Omigod! Look at this horrible economic meltdown! We've gotta rush around madly and fix it right now!" we said, "Okay, what kind of country do we want to create? Let's figure that out, then we'll look at our current economic meltdown situation, and figure out how to create it from here."

Which mindset do you suppose is going to get a better end result? And have more fun getting there?

As Douglas MacArthur once said, "There is no security on this earth. There is only opportunity."

Of course, even with my disappointment with Obama, my support for him remains unchanged. He's obviously less delusional about taxes than his opponent, he's definitely more creative, and he'll select Supreme Court justices far superior to those McCain would choose. If anything happens to him, his vice president is at least competent. And I would SO much prefer that Obama get that 3 a.m. call on the red telephone!

(As an aside, this quote from MSNBC's debate coverage really floored me: "The financial crisis — an unforeseen and unimaginable event, ..." Anybody who's spent any time studying history - especially the economic policies of Coolidge & Hoover - should have been expecting it. Likewise anyone who's studied economics (at least, who's been reading Krugman instead of Friedman). Lots of us were. A guy named Kunstler wrote a book more or less predicting it a number of years ago, called The Long Emergency. Well, perhaps the writer was stuck in a Fox News information vacuum....)


Anonymous said...

Nice post, I think Obama is playing himself down though...

I think he's still all about taxes and less spending, but not everybody wants to hear that, and right now, whichever candidate tells people what they wanna hear will snag the swing voters needed to win. It's not ideal, and I don't like it...[I don't even think Obama likes it]'s politics. Eew.

Great points about reducing the military budget, seeing the graphs make me sick. I wanna cry for my friends who are elementary teachers, and my friends in social work; people helping people, instead of people helping themselves.

Taxes to a republican mean they don't get to do what they want with what they've earned. Taxes to a democrat mean sharing a little of what they have so that everyone can have enough. Sure, it's sort of the borderline of socialism, but where has capitalism taken us? Straight down the path of selfishness and greed. What's so wrong with me sharing a part of my income so that those who do not have income, can survive? Sure, some people abuse it, but I'd rather give money to a starving family and risk that some of my money is going to a crack-head, than give no money at all.




Ready to go.


David Carrel said...

AJ mentioned being borderline socialism. If Obama gets in office, will the country turn socialist? Will we have socialized health care, and an even spread of the wealth? If we spread the wealth to those who do not know how to handle money, will the country lose all the money? I mean, generally rich people know how to handle money, and poor people are poor because (generally speaking here) they are not wise with their money. So if we give money to the poor people, where will that money go?

Seda said...

According to my dictionary (American Heritage), socialism is "a social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community." In other words, there is absolutely no chance - 0% - that the country will turn socialist if Obama is elected.

One of the biggest and most harmful myths of our Judeo-Christian patriarchal system is that the rich are wealthy because they're worthy and wise, and the poor are poor because they're lazy and improvident. In fact, there are as many reasons that people are wealth or poor as there are wealthy and poor people. Education, family background, makeup and heritage, values, ethnicity, aspirations, interests, desires, addiction, morals, ethics, race, gender, greed, exploitation, ignorance, bad or good luck, connections, inheritance, health, man-made or natural disasters, and so much more affect the economic well-being of individuals. The bigger question is, what kind of society do we want to live in? One in which it's everyone for himself, and screw you if you get cancer? One in which the wealthy get to hoard all their wealth and create dynasties that look like foreign royalty while addicts live on the streets without health care or options for treatment? Or one in which we say, if something bad happens to you, we, as a society, are going to make sure that you and your family are taken care of?

Put me down firmly in favor of the second. I want to live in a land where we care for each other. I want to live in a society where I know that if I lose my job, my family won't end up in the street. If my kid gets cancer, my family won't be bankrupted and then I watch him die for lack of care.

In the years of and following WWII, during one of the greatest and longest periods of prosperity in our history, the highest tax brackets were between 70% and 90% - and yes, there were still rich people. (Look it up in an online Almanac - they've got tables that run it down year by year.) The difference was, nearly everybody (at least if they were white) had enough - and few were the families that had to have both parents work just to get by. And you're worried about the wealthiest 5%, or even 35%, paying a little more?

If we give more money to poor people? It will go right back into the economy. It'll buy food and eyeglasses and books and clothes and new shoes for the kids. I've got a one-earner family - my kids don't get new shoes. They get Goodwill shoes or hand-me-downs. And I've got a good job, with a good wage, union protection, and a coparent who works constantly to save money, garden, can, etc. We don't eat out. I make that choice because I value the education that my kids get by unschooling - otherwise Kristin could get a job, we could send the kids to school, and we could buy them new stuff.

As for medicine - it is not a good. The United States is the only "developed" nation that doesn't have fully socialized medicine, even with medicare thrown in. Yet we pay at least twice as much as any other nation, for results that rank around 22nd in terms of infant mortality and longevity - below Cuba! For the very wealthy, we have the best medicine in the world. We pay 2.5 times what they pay in Germany, for a fraction of the value. Yes, let us fervently pray that we soon get socialized medicine, regardless of who wins.

Seda said...

Ironically, in some of the years that taxes were highest - 1952 to 1958 - Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House. The GOP was the party of fiscal responsibility back then. In the '60's, the Dems started running budget deficits so they could have a war and lots of social programs at the same time, but things didn't get out of hand until Reagan took office in 1981, and the GOP era of "cut taxes, increase spending, and balance the budget" took effect. 28 years and $9.5 trillion later, John McCain still completely buys into that pie-in-the-sky fantasy. When will we ever learn?

I've heard it said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

Sorry, David, I got triggered. So I dumped.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our