Tag Archives: obama

Future Economy: This Ain’t It

With the new national jobless rate at 9.5%, critics are saying that President Obama’s economic stimulus package isn’t working.

That’s highly debatable. It could be that it’s really not working. It could be that the federal stimulus is keeping things from being much, much worse. I’m not sure how you’d measure that.

Regardless of this argument, what is clear to me is that we have to start looking beyond the paradigm of jobs and consumerism. Our current economic system is not sustainable. It’s based on people making more money and buying more stuff, and given our limited resources, that can’t go on forever.

It’s also obviously not working, when the top one percent of earners in the U.S. are receiving 20 percent of all income, controlling 33 percent of the country’s wealth, and paying a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than many in the middle class.

So what’s going to happen? Although I think taking care of people without jobs is the right idea, having the government pour more money into it may not be the right answer.

My husband likes to give a radical answer: Abolish money, and everyone will be forced to take care of each other. Simple and drastic, but I don’t see it happening.

I think that’s part of it, though. Here’s what I think we need:

1. Downshift. Realize that we don’t need so much stuff, and that we can’t base our economy on the stuff. We have to lower our expectations of how we should live and simplify.

2. Community. Yes, we do need to take care of each other, and it’s probably best done on the local level. We can share in making sure everyone has food, clothing, shelter and more — companionship, entertainment, education, etc.

3. Get off the fossil fuels. Not sustainable. Enough said.

This isn’t going to be easy. We will have to either deliberately make sacrifices and change the way we live, or be forced into it by our own actions. Either way will be difficult, and perhaps dangerous. The old ways and old jobs will continue to disappear, and this will hurt. But if we dedicate ourselves to taking care of each other, it will work out. Our lives just won’t be the same as they are today.

President George H.W. Bush once said “The American way of life is not negotiable.”  Well, Mr. Bush, it turns out that the American way of life is not sustainable. It’s time to negotiate for our lives.

RESOURCES

Co-op Villages: The Next Evolution (free PDF book download)

The Simple Living Network

Appropedia: The Sustainability Wiki

Xtracycle

Bicycle-related posts on TechnoEarthMama

Sustainability-related posts on TechnoEarthmama

The Problem With Rick Warren

There’s a lot to admire and respect about Rick Warren, who’s going to to offer a prayer at Barack Obama’s inauguration.  He’s led his church to establish ministries that work to stop AIDS and care for AIDS patients.  He’s helped thousands of people to know God.  He’s been willing to admit his failings, that he spent many years forgetting that Christians should be taking care of the poor and marginalized, and he’s turned his focus more toward poverty, AIDS and taking care of the environment.

But should he be part of this historic inauguration?  Many people say no, although I don’t see the decision changing at this point.

Obama says that we can “disagree without being disagreeable”, and apparently thinks this choice shows that he can work with people even if he disagrees with them on some issues.

I’m okay with people having different beliefs.  If Rick Warren believes gay marriage is wrong, fine!  Rick, feel free to not marry a man.  Feel free to not conduct weddings for same sex couples.  But why do you have to impose that belief on the entire state of California?  Because that’s what Proposition 8 did.  Legalizing same-sex marriage in California did not require anyone to participate in same-sex marriage if they didn’t want to.  But Proposition 8 outlaws it for everyone anyway.  That’s one of the biggest reasons why it is totally and completely wrong.

So that is why I disagree with the decision to have him offer the invocation at the inauguration.  Not because his beliefs are different from mine, but because he insists on imposing those beliefs on others.

What should be done about this?  Although I wish Obama had chosen someone else in the first place, I don’t think Warren should be removed from the agenda or pressured to step down.  I don’t see that as a loving response, and it would likely cause even more polarization and hurt feelings.

I do think it’s good for us to continue this discussion.  I do appreciate that Obama restated his commitment to equality for gay and lesbian people.  Obama did state before that he was against Proposition 8 (although in a lukewarm fashion); I’d like him to specifically recognize that he and Warren differed on that issue.  I’d like to hear Barack Obama really recognize the frustrations of people who oppose Rick Warren’s selection, rather than just defend his choice.

Disagree without being disagreeable?  Yes!  But don’t forget the disagree part — it’s still important.

We Don’t Need Politics As Usual

I wrote yesterday that I was deeply troubled by several blog entries I’d read.  These blog entries, by people who happen to oppose Barack Obama for president (although we do have other things in common), contain a number of mistakes and misconceptions about Obama’s tax policy.  The authors are spreading a fear that Obama will take people’s hard-earned money and give it to other people.

My first response was to want to point out the misconceptions and errors, and argue the facts.

I don’t think that will do any good.  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t convince the authors to believe me.  If you are interested in knowing the truth about Obama’s tax policy, here are some links.  Check them out for yourself and make up your own mind.

There’s another reason why I’m choosing not to argue right now.

We need to get out of politics as usual.  We need to “shake up Washington” (McCain).  We need “change we can believe in” (Obama).  That doesn’t mean we need to replace Republicans with Democrats or vice versa.  It means we need to get away from the politics of fear, and away from the oppositional model of politics.  As long as we’re pitted against each other, we’re going to have a hard time working together for the good of all.

Is Voter Fraud a Problem? You Betcha!

But maybe not in the way you think.

You see, I don’t think there are people out there just itching to vote multiple times to swing the election.  And I think that if they are, they’ll have a hard time doing it.  The systems and laws we have in place actually work.  Salon’s Andrew Burmon recently interviewed Lori Minnite, an expert on voter fraud from Barnard College, and she says that “From 2002 to 2005 only one person was found guilty of registration fraud. Twenty people were found guilty of voting while ineligible and five people were found guilty of voting more than once. That’s 26 criminal voters — voters who vote twice, impersonate other people, vote without being a resident — the voters that Republicans warn about.”

So what’s all this about ACORN submitting fraudulent registrations?

It’s true.  ACORN even admitted to it. They knew about it before the registrations were submitted.  State or county laws often require organizations who are registering voters to turn in ALL off the registrations they collected, even if they know them to be fraudulent.  ACORN flagged the problem registrations before turning them in.  They were completely honest and upfront about it.

Did ACORN encourage people to submit fraudulent registrations? No.  Not as an organization, anyway.  The problem is greed and lack of work ethic.   According to ACORN, “there have been several times over the past ten months that our Las Vegas Quality Control program has identified a canvasser who appears to have knowingly submitted a fake or duplicate application in order to pad his or her hours.”  It’s about money, not politics.  It’s still not good, but it does not point to an Obama conspiracy to steal the election.

This is the truth.  There is no voter registration fraud problem.  People associated with the McCain-Palin campaign and with the Republican party are stirring up fear, just like they do with the rumors about Obama being a secret Muslim, or when they insist that Obama hangs out with terrorists.

And people believe these things.  And they get angry.  And when people get angry, bad things can happen.

Here’s where I got my information.  Please pass it along.  People need to know the truth.

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/10/15/voter_suppression/index.html

http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=76934

http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/10/10289_the_acorn_controversy.html

Man in the Middle

You’ve heard about swing voters — those who might still change their minds on whether to vote for Obama or McCain.  Many people think they’re mythical.  I mean, how do you not know yet, after more than a year of campaigning?

I’ve actually met one.  I stopped at a convenience store for a drink, and the man behind the counter asked me if I’d watched the debate.  He said he just didn’t know whether it was even worth voting this year.  “They’re both just so radical!” he said.

That blew my mind.  I don’t see either candidate as being particularly radical, but in this man’s mind, they are.  He’s a man in the middle.  Both Democrats and Republicans are too radical.

He also said he likes Biden, and he seemed indifferent to Palin, although he thinks a Biden-Palin ticket might be interesting.  Somehow I don’t see that working out.

It does make me wonder, though, whether there is a better way.  Our current two-party system (which was not set up in the Constitution) pits adversaries against each other.  It inhibits true cooperation.  Even when politicians are “reaching across the aisle” it’s still about getting something for the party.  That’s where all those evil earmarks come from — they compromise and put these things in to get people to come together and vote on an important bill.

What if there were true cooperation in our government?  What would that look like?

Presidential Politics: Why I Care

Apparently, the U.S. wants change, regardless of which party is in charge.  Both Republicans and Democrats are claiming that they will shake up Washington.  As for third-party candidates, well, that’s a given.  They’d like to see even bigger changes in our country.

I’m not convinced that a change in presidential leadership will bring about real change.  A leader can cast a vision and inspire change, but real change comes from the actions of individuals and families on the ground.  If that’s true, why does it even matter who is elected President?

I’m tempted to ignore the whole thing, but there are reasons to care.  Here’s one:  national security.  That’s one function a national government is good for.  It’s harder (and possibly more dangerous) for local militias to protect the various parts of the country.

Therefore, I’m concerned about which candidate will do the best job of keeping us safe, and which will lead us in a direction that will keep my children safe in the future.

The Republican party and John McCain claim that they are best able to do this.  They also claim that we have good reason to be afraid!  If you haven’t seen the so-called 9/11 tribute that was played at the Republican National Convention (and on national TV), take a couple of minutes to watch it.  The terrorists are out to get us and have been for 20 years!  Be afraid!  But don’t be afraid, because we can protect you!

Protect us how?  By going to war against a sovereign nation under false pretenses? By sneaking into Pakistan, a nation that has nuclear weapons, to carry out military operations without the approval of the Pakistani government?  By killing civilians, including women and children, and then denying it?

These are the kind of actions that make me feel less safe.  I think these actions put our country and our children in greater danger.

I want a government that considers military solutions last, not first.  I want a government that sees the whole picture, not just a military picture.   Hey, kind of like this:

I am running for President of the United States to lead this country in a new direction… Instead of being distracted from the most pressing threats that we face, I want to overcome them. Instead of pushing the entire burden of our foreign policy on to the brave men and women of our military, I want to use all elements of American power to keep us safe, and prosperous, and free. Instead of alienating ourselves from the world, I want America – once again – to lead…

–Barack Obama