Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why the Republican Candidate Won the Senate Race in Massachusetts

Discipline, Change, Policy, Campaign Strategy, Defeat. These are the reasons being touted for the election of a Republican to the Senate by Massachusetts.

Let's examine the claims of the pundits.

Obama has not disciplined the Democratic Congress sufficiently according to a GOP Strategist on CNN this morning around 8:35. I guess they want Obama to threaten ostracism like Palin did when a Republican got out of line. Bush controlled the party with an iron fist, not democratic compromise. Sorry, but the President's job is not to control Congress. He may lead, but Congress makes law, not the President, whose only real legislative power is the veto.

Change from the Republicans sounds like a metaphor for business as usual. The public voted on a president who promised to change certain societal wrongs. Then he was given a destroyed economy and now is being blamed for not providing a quick fix. Sorry. but I do not see the Republicans working to make jobs available. I do not see Republicans making needed changes. How does Brown expect to make changes when his political party will not support needed changes to current regulatory law and needed social supports? Will he be willing to get his party to stop Obama-bashing long enough to actively participate in actual governance? What solutions--workable solutions--do the Republicans have to offer the American people?

Policy is what the people voted on. The main points that were suggested by the pundits to be of concern to the American People is that they want jobs, they want Washington to stop spending money, and they want no new taxes.  Jobs come from industry and take time to develop. The banks that received the TARP money were asked to pass the money on to industries. But big business, left to regulate itself, took the money and ran. Maybe we would have been better off if we had let the conglomerates fail. At least we would now be on a real route to recovery and not this business-as-usual backslide. However, now that we have spent tax money on the rich, the middle class and poor are to be left out. Again. Banks that could have held off on foreclosures and restructured mortgages on their own were too afraid to help the people so now are taking huge losses on foreclosed loans--or are taxpayers paying the insurance coverage on these loans? Will the Republicans in Congress participate in rewriting laws to control these vultures? Or will they, too, take the money and run. Lobbyist and corporate campaign contributors pay out a lot, after all.

Campaign Strategy seems to be more important than issues in political campaigns. An active attorney general, holding down a full-time, taxpayer-paid job, should drop everything and work only at campaigning? She had a job for her state that had to be done. She let her personality come through, even in her gaffs. Ok. But surely her ability to do the actual job is the key issue here.

Defeat, the final issue being touted by the pundits. The vote in Massachusetts was so close to 50:50 that this vote can not be called a "crushing defeat."  What this vote does illustrate is that the American people are equally divided in what changes they want for this country. Half want the status quo, half want sweeping changes. In a diverse country, such differences in opinion is normal. As a supporter of the current Democratic Platform, I find the statistics today disappointing, but not a reflection of total defeat and failure. I suppose the Democrats should step back and make less sweeping changes, but here's hoping the the laws that are now crafted will do less harm than did the Republican policies of the last decade.  Here's hoping the Republicans will take stock of what changes are necessary for minimal good governance, at least.

Apparently, the American People actually do have distinct differences of beliefs. And they have a huge fear of the changes that most voted for in electing Obama. The Republicans managed to scare people enough that many who wanted change are no longer brave enough to fight for it. Why? Some say a fear of socialism. Some say a fear of higher taxes. Some say if we just let the communities and businesses of America solve their own problems,  then over time social evolution will result: what changes work will survive and what changes do not will go extinct.

Could government regulation and efforts push this process towards recovery any faster? Most likely. Will as many people be left unemployed for as long? Possibly longer. Will we slip into a depression? Maybe. The socialism that people claim to fear as a reason for denying the public option in health care is the same socialism that the people are declaring is necessary to provide jobs, increase and continue unemployment benefits, and generally make life easier for everyone--as long as health care is not of the package and as long as taxes are not raised. Socialistic policies pave roads, build bridges, control crime, isolate criminals from society and educate children--and send our young men and women to war so we can stay safely home.

How do we resolve these differences? As in the past, our Congress must work together--in a give-and-take across party lines--to pass the minimum laws to keep the country going. It would be great if Congress could actually accomplish something, but maintaining the status quo in a nation of 50:50 differences of opinions means there is no winning side. As in the past, common needs will author legislation which will then be doctored by the added special interest bits and pieces that are always added to garner needed votes and appease the special interests who donate so hugely to the lobbyist efforts and the campaign funds. Maybe business as usual will get some successful and needed changes through. Maybe. At least we have a President who I believe is wise enough to veto the bills that would actually be harmful.

The American People are so fearful of increased taxes because the current tax policies are so unfair. The percentages for taxable situations, incomes, inheritances, businesses, investments, etc., are too arbitrary and too high. A reasonably low percentage with absolutely no loopholes would make so much more sense. As would strict regulations on taking money earned in this country out of this country before and without  being taxed.

Offshore accounts used to evade one's tax liabilities should be regulated and taxes paid. If corporations want to be treated as individuals under the law, then treat them as such. If the corporation breaks the law, discontinue its business within the US. And do this within a court system that applies the law based on the truth of the case, not the money and ability of the lawyers.

Truth is truth. There should not be a winning of a case on trial, but an identification of truth and the admistration of actual justice. Lawyers should not win cases, rather the facts of the case should determine which way the verdict goes.

Taxes are the last point I wish to cover. Somehow the things that have to be done must be paid for. Taxes pay for this. If you want a government solution to the need for jobs, for increased needs for unemployment, for help with foreclosures in the form of money for refinancing loans, and for infrasturcture, then you must accept that taxes are necessary. Otherwise, everything must be privatized.

My state of Mississippi is facing the possibility of letting 2500-3000 prisoners go free because the state budget must include cuts to state prisons. Will private groups help these people when they are released?  Will privatized help, which will ask for tax-supported grants to run their agencies, be able to assist these people to stay out of crime?

And how much money is saved by privatizing agencies that function by being paid by the government to do the job?

Taxes will be needed to keep us going. How can we all be taxed fairly? Maybe the rich Republicans and Democrats together can come up with an equitable solution. I suspect the solution will mean drastic cutbacks on what our government can do for us all. Oh, well. Give us time. the naysayers today will be adding handouts back in soon enough. And there is always the fundraising solution to get monies for one's favorite programs. Make celebrities your friend. Get the really rich megachurches busy doing social outreach programs to all members of a community. Stop spending money on lost causes and actually help people in need.  Go ahead and run a business like a religious theme park--paying all necessary taxes--since that brings in needed money for projects. Churches and Organizations, decide on the value of a ministry or non-profit and tax any income over that value. Why should donations go to the support of a lavish lifestyle just because there is a claim of religion or charity involved?

Amidst all this angst today is the worry over the people of Haiti. I am grateful that the American People are so generous with money, effort, government funds and time to help where it is needed so drastically. I am proud of our whole international community for stepping up to help. I hope and pray that the Haitians can recover as soon as possible, knowing it will take a long time. I hope that the repressions of the Haitian past will be lifted by all oppressors in the future. I hope the US and corporations will deal more fairly with Haiti in the future. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Living with the Desertification of Northern China

I just watched the story of China's Desertification on the Science Channel. What a tragedy.

If one were to apply the ideas of Green Living and Science Fiction to the problem, one might make these suggestions to the Chinese peoples:
  • 1. Earthship homes, adobe buildings, and underground homes might protect from the raging sandstorms. These should each be biodomes. All windows should face south and be shuttered.
  • 2. Biodomes with recycled water, hydroponics and indoor gardening might allow families to grow their own crops. Enclosing huge areas for cattle and using the same indoor gardening techniques might help.
  • 3. Sunlight piped into the dwellings, barns and underground areas using light pipes, mirrors and skylights combined with growlights and other florescent lights could provide the needed lighting for plants and animals. Solar and wind energy should be used, but the solar panels and wind turbines must enclosed in structures that can be closed whenever sand storms threaten. Domes similar to astronomical observatories might help--the point is to have a surrounding structure that can be opened to the sky and closed up when needed.
  • 4. Plans to terraform the outdoors should be implemented to reclaim some of the desert areas.
  • 5. Water can be imported from the oceans, ice floes, or comet tails or rings of Saturn.
  • 6. Water from ground wells should be distilled. All used water should be retrieved and recycled. Plants should be covered so that transpiration is captured and recycled.
  • 7. Rivers should be protected. If that is not possible, maybe they could be drained into an underground reservoir for a time. Would planting river plants in some areas help?
  • 8. Careful thought should be given to which types of farm animals are best suited to the available growing conditions. Current herds not suitable should be sold to ranches in more appropriate climates or slaughtered for food while still viable. Much of the meat should be canned or frozen for future use.
  • 9. Eating habits must be adjusted to take advantage of the crops and animals grown in the new conditions. New crops and animals mean new diets.
  • 10. Desert plants must be grown to salvage the remaining areas near the waterways. These should be imported from arid regions around the world.
  • 11. Algae can be grown for oil, protein, and other products along the coastal areas and the products traded with the desert areas.
  • 12. Sand can be used to make glass and ceramic products for use and trade.
  • 13. The people will learn to wear the flowing robes and head coverings of the Arab nations to provide some protection against the blowing sands.
  • 14. All people, especially children, will be trained in emergency procedures to be followed whenever a storm threatens.
  • 15. The Chinese should send people to the Australian, Arab and Saharan areas to discover what people there do.
China could become the world's leading experts in terraforming, desert-living technologies, and green technologies.
For that matter so could the peoples of the Sahara and Mid-Eastern regions. For that matter, so could the peoples of the Australian and American desert areas.

So how much of this plan is already being implemented? I am not a part of the community looking at the problem, so I do not know. I am just brainstorming.