Thursday, August 2, 2012

Republican or Democrat? ... or Hippie?

If you're a Republican because you think they're the conservative bunch, it's not really that simple anymore.  You'll perhaps want a better reason.

If you're a Democrat because you think they're the liberal, human rights oriented, environmentally sensitive bunch, they're not so easily defined now. You'll perhaps want to rethink that position.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch,
Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, BoA, Credit Suisse,
Lehman Brothers, and others are responsible for
the world market crash of 07'/08' and the
resulting deaths of hundreds of thousands.

They have inordinate influence still; you  and I
have almost none.
Simple debates on issues are helpful, but promises are often shelved after the race.  What the parties actually do when they're in power is more revealing.  Both groups are much more complex than their simple campaign slogans suggest.  (A little exasperation showing here ...)

The historic differentiations in the two-party system have less effect on their performance in office than we might expect.  Many issues have succumbed to power plays and influence peddlers.

Those of us who were pro-government during the Vietnam conflict have begun to realize, the hippies were probably right about at least some things. Government doesn't deserve our blind trust.

Those of us who chafed during the civil rights and feminist revolutions are faced with the fact that the issues of discrimination were real and inexcusable.  Dissidents then and now are treated like criminals or anarchists.

To a great degree, our most difficult problems are formalized and perpetuated by policy and law.  Visionary leadership, inside and outside government, must go against both party lines to effect needed change. 

When I was a kid, it was against the law for a black kid to drink from the water fountain marked 'white'.

Like issues in the past, today's economic issues are equally inexcusable and are not yet addressed by either of the two parties' offered simplistic perspectives. The fundamental questions being asked by dissidents are valid.  The problems were and are with national policy and practice.

Students protesting at Kent State University in the 70's saw it first hand.  Four were killed, and nine more were wounded.  Some of those shot were protesting the invasion of Cambodia by the U.S.  Others were just bystanders.

They were called un-American,  traitors, and revolutionaries. "I think that we're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America."[18] Their accusers didn't get it, of course.  Questions and protests had been waved aside too long for folks with a conscience to tolerate.  The same is happening again on Wall Street and elsewhere.  We're right there again today.

Today's dissidents are being brutalized and arrested as we speak. This week.

The Occupy Movement has dozens of focal points from Wall Street to college tuition, from national government to private corporations.  The general dissatisfaction they express is being resisted as though they were criminals.  It's the same way they abused the peace activists of the Vietnam era. Exactly the same.

The derivatives debacle is one example of government responding to corporations rather than the best interests of the American people.  When the crash came, the government rescued the businesses and shafted the citizenry rather badly.  The bail-outs went to the Wall Street, not main street.  Wall Street firms paid their folks multimillion dollar bonuses in the same year the government bailed them out.  They paid off their congressmen that year as well.   Middle class folks paid the bill.  The poor suffered most.

Senior players in both parties seem to be crooked as a dog's hind leg when it comes to influence, power, selfishness, and hubris.  To be fair, both sides have attempted good initiatives they hoped would serve well.  For example, social aid programs such as welfare have in fact addressed some immediate problems and many folks in need were given a hand up out of poverty. The same programs (since more is better) have gone on to do more harm than anyone thought possible.

Trickle-down didn't.  Welfare wasn't.  Fanny and Freddie failed.  More than One Child got Left Behind; in fact, most suffered loss.  The cheerleader who said, "WE CAN," can't, and now, neither can the rest of us.  Government sanctioned fiscal policy and partisan squabbling over the national debt crisis have tanked the global economy twice in recent years.

Occupy Wall Street is just another round of citizens asking hard questions a bit more emphatically.  

There are no believable answers coming from either party, there are no reasonable responses to the catastrophic state of the global economy which their best efforts have given us, and there are no particularly believable leaders moving toward reasonable change.

Sound familiar?  Almost biblical?  Has either party said anything coherent about the catastrophically fragile and vulnerable financial system?  Beyond patchwork attempts at repair, not word one.

From the New York Times, "The Obama administration is far from perfect, and government is not beyond becoming bloated and being abused, but right is right and truth is truth: government can play a very positive role in protecting the less-well-off from the interests of the more-well-off, and this administration’s view of government is much more benevolent than those of the people who are seeking to unseat it."  True in some respects, perhaps.

I suspect that some (not all) of our current leaders are doing their best amidst the failures to serve the American people, yet their efforts seem to be more of the same.  The Republican alternative offers no more credible solution to our functional failures than does this administration.

Did you know that half of our Congress folks are multi-millionaires?  Congress doesn't feel your pain!
Instead, they make money on the inside information they have from the programs they approve or disapprove.  They sell short while the market approaches free-fall, all while telling the American people everything is fine.  If they weren't congressmen and women, they'd be in federal prison.  Equal under the law is a sad joke.

The gap between rich and poor continues to widen, the economic swings are wider and more destructive, and the magnitude of individual economic events increases at an accelerating rate.

We're flawed not so much in intent, perhaps, as in structure.

Personally, grass-roots-driven change appeals to me.  Not that it's likely to make the problems go away, of course, but if we choose, then we'll own the problems and perhaps be a bit more thoughtful about the process.

So, is it time to think about reengaging our political process personally?  Kinda looks that way, doesn't it.  Heard anything meaningful from your representatives in Congress lately?  It's been strangely quiet there since the debt crisis screw up, if you ask me.

"Suppose you were an idiot.  And suppose you were a member of Congress ...  but I repeat myself."
~ from a letter fragment, 1891, Mark Twain 

They're not idiots, of course.  Foolish, perhaps, 
hubristic, arrogant, inappropriately 
influenced by money 
and power,  ....

It's a little frightening, considering the government's attitude toward such, to discover that I am perhaps more of a dissident than a party participant.  Not interested in being tazed or maced, but definitely had enough of dis-information (lies), market mismanagement (theft),  and patchwork solutions (rule by fiat).