Tag Archives: Democrats

Give Me Your Poor…

Want a way to decide what federal services to cut, and which to keep, in a fair and balanced way? Here’s a thought: the Democrats are all about the poor, the homeless, the children. Take care of them first. And by first, I mean before anyone else.

Set up a national safety net priority pyramid, kind of like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. No money is spent on the higher level priorities until all of the base needs are taken care of. For example, if hunger is agreed to be the most basic need, then all people will be fed before any money is spent on any other item. Once all people are fed, then people could receive housing, and clothing, and education, medical care, and so on.

There would be no question of corporate welfare until the basic needs of all people were taken care of. There would be no consumer protection agency until everyone had enough money to worry about losing. There would be no government backed mortgage financing until everyone had a house. There would be no student loans until everyone was college ready. If a person lost his job, and was unable to pay his mortgage, there would be no unemployment payments—that person would be assigned living quarters, and given food and clothing sufficient to bring him up to the level of the lowest person in the pyramid. Everyone would be kept alive, fed, and sheltered. Beyond that point, everyone would be on his own, until everyone achieved a base level of needs provided for.

At that point, once each person was assured of food, clothing, and shelter, the next level of need could be addressed. Say the next priority would be education. The most basic level of education would be provided for each person, no matter their age. If a fifty-year-old man somehow neglected to learn to read when he was in school, he would be eligible to be taught his ABC’s. And so forth, and so on. All of those people in the middle and upper classes would receive no benefit from government unless and until all of the people beneath them in income level were brought up to their standard of living.

In this manner, the entire pyramid would keep rising, with more needs taken care of, but only needs. Wants and desires would not be funded in any way, shape, or form by the government until all needs for all people had been satisfied. Anyone at a higher income level would be welcome to provide more for himself than would otherwise be provided by the government, but no one would be entitled to anything that was not available at the lowest income level.

Fortunately, we never have to worry about this sort of concept ever being implemented, and not because the Republicans hate people, either. The truth is that it’s just too difficult to pay in for years, and never get anything back. And, matter how hard we try, no matter what benefits are given to those in need, there will always be needy. There will never be enough to take care of those in dire need, and still have some left over for the amenities we all enjoy. It’s all a balancing act, and we just need to decide where we’re going to set the fulcrum. No demonizing necessary.

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Achoo!

Image courtesy of gruar razvan ionut/freedigitalphotos. net

Image courtesy of gruar razvan ionut/freedigitalphotos. net

One of the great things about Thanksgiving is that you get see loved ones that you haven’t seen in too long a time. We have quite the extended family, and our house was the focal point of the excited bedlam this year. The custom is for each of the large crew to bring something to share to the table: a new sweet potato recipe, homemade cranberry sauce, cherry compote, pumpkin pie. This year, someone brought along something not so welcome; something that I must admit I was not very thankful for, to wit: a cold. Since I tend to be, as they say, susceptible, I carried that cold away with me as a memento of our time together. For a week or so, the little virus that could, did, and sapped me of both the strength and the willpower to continue the good fight. However, as I have begun to regain my energy, that dormant flame is rekindling, and I slowly awaken to the need for another round.

So, have I missed anything in my week away? Let’s see: we’re still facing the fiscal cliff, or curve, or slide, or whatever the spinmeisters are calling it these days. The only new aspect of this cliffhanger is that the liberal caucus has now come out and explicitly stated that the deal will be tax hikes now, and spending cuts later, maybe. (Has Lucy got that football all set?) Or, as we say around our house, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

There are a couple of reasons why I believe that no spending cuts will be implemented any time soon. The people who were just elected were not chosen on the basis of their fiscal responsibility. They were chosen, especially the Democrats, to put into practice all of those promises and ideas that they tossed at all of their respective constituencies during the latest campaigns.

If the Republicans agree to the extension of the tax cuts for all but the highest earners (to be determined later), they will have given away all of their negotiating tools—what else can they give to Democrats that would be worth the Democrats in return snatching away any of their base’s goodies?

No, there will be no dealing. The impending fiscal cliff gives the Democrats a perfect opportunity for a Republican smackdown. If the Republicans go along with the tax increase, their base will be unhappy. If they resist, the Democrats will accuse them of speeding over the cliff when it wasn’t necessary. One thing the Republicans can do to divorce themselves from the whole mess is to show up, but vote present, or to abstain.

If the Republicans refuse to assent to whatever bills the Democrats propose, that will force the Democrats to pass all bills all on their own, and to take responsibility for whatever happens down the road. Of course, then the Democrats can also claim all of the credit when the economy begins its sudden upward soar, due to…what? A new quantitative easing? More federal jobs? More borrowing? More spending?

Let the liberals indulge in surfeit of paper money. Let them wallow in their treasure trove of unbacked currency. The Republicans can stand at the side, waiting for the inevitable moment when they are called in to clean up the mess. There are those who say that they have already been called in: that that is why they kept the House, the money side of Congress.

But the comeuppance has not yet come up. Should the Republicans stand steady, hold fast, and attempt to turn the tide of spending, they will merely be seen as obstructionist, not as saviors. The One must play out his hand, bestowing all his gifts until the bill comes due, before the people will realize that they’ve been had.

The liberal constituency is currently embracing what it considers to be its new-found power. “We are changing the world!” is their battle cry. “No more will there be discrimination of any kind (except against white males), there will be religious freedom for all (except Christians who oppose paying for abortion), everyone will pay their fair share (except for rich people, who pay more, and everyone else, who pays less).”

There is no arguing with those who are fervid with religious humors, no matter what stripe they may be. Those pent-up emotions must play themselves out, to the inevitable consequences, before zealots will be amenable to any sort of reasoning. There are too many people in positions of power who are proclaiming the justness of their cause. And there is, as there often is in hyperbole, a grain of truth.

There has been injustice in this world, there is injustice in this world. What the liberals are unwilling to concede is that there is likely to always be injustice in this world. And throwing money at a problem that stems from the inherent nature of the universe will not make it go away. No matter how much money is tossed.

Look at the just the example of lottery winners. Here are people given more riches than they ever dreamed of, and many of them waste no time in squandering that wealth even to a worse financial position than they held before their supposed good fortune. Ah, you say, but not all of them fare so poorly. Thank you for proving my point.

You can give everyone in the world the same amount of money, and within a year, some of them will have created enormous wealth with those funds. Some people will have maintained their position, and some will have spent every dime and then some. No amount of fairness in payments can ever result in equality of result. Some people know how to make money; some people don’t. Some people catch colds, while others who have been exposed to exactly the same situation skirt by with nary a sniffle. The human condition is uniqueness, not fairness.

The tide is coming, and the Republicans would do well for themselves to step out of the way, and let it flow by. There will be plenty of time of pick up the pieces later.

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A Republican Walked Into A Bar…

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The old joke was, a Republican is a Democrat who’s been mugged. Now it seems that a Democrat is a Republican who’s been without electricity for a week or two. Representative Peter King of New York, nominally an R, and himself one of those stranded without power for a week or so,  is now expressing his outrage at LIPA, the Long Island Power Authority.

Representative King says that the electrical company was not properly prepared for the onslaught of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy, and did not bring sufficient resources to bear for the cleanup that was to come. Apparently, part of the problem is that LIPA did not request enough assistance from out of state electrical workers, and when non-union workers did show up, they were sent home. His proposed solution: calling on President Obama to become personally involved, and supporting federal intervention in the internal doings of LIPA, if it becomes necessary.

Why is he not calling for the entrenched interests at LIPA to step out of the way and allow him and his fellow citizens to step up and clean up the mess?

I see that one more person has drunk the Kool-Aid of the personal savior, not to mention the rhetoric of the unions. I can certainly understand how liberals feel the pinch of a little hypocrisy. More and more, it seems as though Republicans are not the party of limited government, but of the government they want.

It’s no wonder that Democrats say, if we are going to have a large government, then let it be one that is tolerant of the standards and lifestyles of the millions of people who inhabit this part of the continent, whether they are here legally or illegally. If we are to pay for big government, why should it be focused on our intervention in other countries, when there are so many people who are suffering here at home?

There have been a great many discussions about what happened during the last election—why Mitt Romney, the man of business, lost, when it is self-evident that so many Americans out of work is a major problem. It seems that Democrats believed that they were not likely have government’s influence in their lives lessened any with Mr. Romney in the White House, and they were determined to have that influence present itself in a positive way, through social reform, rather than the negative protection of oil interests abroad.

It doesn’t help the Republicans’ cause when their representatives call for more federal assistance whenever there is a emergency. I know Representative King’s call to action occurred after the election, but it is indicative of some Republicans’ mindsets. With instances like these, the Tea Party’s recent mantra of no more taxes sounds more like “We don’t like President Obama’s policies, because we sure weren’t around when President Bush was getting all flagrant with the checkbook.”

If the Republicans truly want to be the party of limited government, then they need to act that way. Not just mucho spending when it comes to defense, with little interest in social justice: they need to show Democrats that they want the government to interfere little in people’s lives in any way, whether in the bedroom, the board room, or the war room.

The Republican party needs to decide, and pretty quickly, where its most important interests lie. Is the fiscal cliff the biggest deal? If so, why? Is it because of sequestration, the debt ceiling, or the increase in taxes? If the sequestration, decide whether cutting defense will really dismantle our entire defense system, or whether defense spending could manage to limp along at a mere $500 million per year for a short while, until we can get the rest of our house in order.

If it is the debt ceiling, is there way to put off lifting it without shutting down essential government services? I can’t think of a way right now, but I am open to suggestions. And what about the increase in taxes? Can we all abide an increase as a show of good faith while we are trying to figure out which government services are essential?

The Democrats are suspicious of Republican motives, and it is easy to see why: from Senator McConnell stating that his prime objective was to keep President Obama from being re-elected (yes, I know that it is always Republicans’ prime objective to keep the other party from being re-elected, but still), to those ill-mannered ejaculations about abortion (yes, I know that the party called for Representative Akin to step down, but still), the Republicans appear to be the party that hates women and blacks.

First things first: repair your image. The Democrats won the election. Let them govern. If things don’t stick in your craw too much, give in, graciously. If it is not a matter of life and limb, don’t fight so hard. The fiscal cliff is just economics, after all. And if we do go over the cliff, there’s nothing that says we can’t band together as individuals, to help each other out, to get through this crisis.

Let the Democrats savor their victory, instead of fighting them tooth and nail all the way. What you don’t want is entrenched bitterness and suspicion. Extend the proverbial olive branch, and see where that gets you. If they are calling for increased tax rates, then let the taxes go up. If that means that the fat cats on Wall Street refuse to infuse their money into new business: start your own. If there are too many regulations, make that the direction of the bargains to come: have the Democrats reduce regulation instead of the size of the government, to start with.

If Republicans give on social issues, and allow some leeway on fiscal policy, the Democrats may be able to rise from their hunkered down position, and give a little back. Republicans do not yet seem to realize how scary their policies seem to those who feel that they have had little power in the past. Regardless of what the actual situation is, it is what seems to be that rules. Extend the hand of friendship, and then let’s get on to the business at hand.

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GLUTEN-FREE REMODEL

A couple of years ago, I got sick. Really sick. Really, really sick. And I didn’t get better until I eliminated wheat gluten from my diet. The path to better health for me has been a slow haul, a loooooooong process, with many fits and starts. To this day (and for the rest of my life) I must continually monitor everything that I put anywhere near my mouth, or I suffer a painful relapse, followed by a prolonged recovery.

I consider this condition, not a badge of pride, nor a weakness to shout from the rooftops as an excuse for why I can’t fulfill my duties, but as a fact in my life, an obstacle that I must find a way around in order to achieve my goals. I know that I am not alone—not the “other people are in the same boat, so the burden on all of us is lessened”—not that type of not alone. I know that I am not alone in having obstacles to overcome. All of us has our own form of gluten intolerance to deal with. All of us have struggles we face each and every day.

Unfortunately, there’s no one to blame for my condition, no one I can point to and say, “He did it! Get ‘im!” It just is; it’s a fact of life—of my life. Even if there were someone to blame, someone whose negligence or conscious act caused this condition, I am still the one who has to live with it. It is what it is, and I have to find a way to get myself and my condition through each and every day. And that, in a very roundabout fashion, brings us to Mr. Obama.

The one thing that Democrats in the past hundred years or so have been good at, is inspiration. They could certainly get the American populace to believe in their exceptionalism. Picture Teddy Roosevelt, rushing up San Juan Hill, or with his big stick, forging a canal through Panama. FDR governed from his wheelchair when he was unable to stand. Harry Truman made Americans think that they were so special, they were justified in blowing hundreds of thousands of Japanese sky-high. Bill Clinton, through all his hijinks in the oval office, made Americans feel that he shared their pain, and that there would be a better tomorrow. And John Kennedy-even the name stirs a chord of patriotism. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

How the political conversation has degenerated since then. Now, it is all about what our country can do for us. Low interest student loans. Medicare. Medicaid. FEMA. EBT. Unemployment insurance. Health care. Social Security. Cradle to grave, we continually ask our country what more it can do for us. Is it us? Are we so much more in need of support than we were a mere 50 years ago? As a rational, thinking, proud American, I like to think not, but oh, how the Democratic line has changed.

There are a couple of ways that we can claw our way through this short life we are given. Some people call these the glass half-full or half-empty perspectives. I think of them more as the attitude of abundance, or the attitude of scarcity. Whatever the moniker you cast upon them, the result is the same. You either wake up every morning wondering where you can go from here, given whatever limitations are currently assailing you, or you wake up every morning, wondering how you can hang onto whatever few possessions you’ve managed to grasp, and how much others owe you today. Unfortunately for those half-empty folks, the only possible path to contentment leads through the notion of abundance. Here’s why.

Under the rubric of scarcity, there is no such thing as enough. No matter how much you do, how much you accumulate, no matter how much others do for you or give you, there is never enough. At any moment, it all could be taken away, so you must grasp it, fight for it, at every turn. And, under scarcity, you must always keep track of the other person’s piece of the pie—for someone else always has more than you do. Under scarcity, fairness is the supposed method of doling out the goodies, as if there could be any objective way to determine what could possibly be a fair way to compensate each of us for our own specific burdens, our obstacles that we deal with.

Living through an attitude of abundance, on the other hand, allows you to ride the bad times out—and we all have bad times in our lives. With abundance, you realize that you have the wherewithal to come back, to build up your own self and begin your life anew. And if your life finishes itself before you manage to accumulate all that you wanted to, at least you had yourself throughout the struggle. You have the pride of perseverance, of carrying your own burden.

I grieved when I realized what all I had to give up when I had to do without wheat, how much of life’s bounty was no longer available to me. (Of course, I had long ago also had to resign myself to the fact that I was not going through this life as a world-famous dancer.) But that is the nature of our world. We all have our limitations, we all have our broken dreams. But to focus on that takes away the best part of our natures. Are we not all inspired by the child with cancer, who lives what is left of his short life with a serenity beyond his years? Do we not all feel uplifted by the single mother who works two jobs for the sake of her family? Is there not enough grace in this world, in this whole wide universe, for each of us to draw upon in taking responsibility for bettering our own lives?

After the period of grief is the time to rebuild. A few days ago, I heard some television personality (sorry, I can’t remember which one it was) say that the President has two jobs: uphold the Constitution and defend the country. I would add a third: to inspire. The President should be a leader for the entire citizenry, and indeed, the world. The job of fragmenting society into us and them more rightfully belongs to a dictator who is attempting to consolidate his base through creating a common enemy.

Of course, there are those who have burdens too heavy to carry, who are in absolute need of assistance. And if the rest of us, the ones who have come to rely on the crutches provided by a government interested in giving only in order to garner more power, would find the strength to throw off our golden shackles and stand back on our own two feet, then we could quit fighting each other, provide what we need for our own selves, and help those who really need help. Now that would be inspiring.

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