Thursday, April 8, 2010

OPINION: Obama Might As Well As Run For The Hills With Them

Can We Talk?
By Jack Fairweather

Many fairy tales and folk tales begin; “Once upon a time”. They are usually stories with some basis in fact, some fiction or “What if…” content and then, at the end an open question as to what could occur if an individual did, or did not do, something.
And so, we begin with a fact. Once upon a time an American President, in his first term in office, said, “We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob”. That President was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He made that statement in a campaign speech in 1936.
In forcefully addressing the problems besetting a nation on it’s knees, a people practically devastated by an economic depression, he had taken on the great and powerful interests aligned against those people and his policies. He called them “the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, war profiteering.”
These interests, Roosevelt said, “had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs.”
There is little doubt that the Congress Roosevelt had to deal with was as co-opted as the lobbyist-infested body of the present day. However, FDR did not offer to “hear all sides” as another first term President would in the future. Instead he threw down the gauntlet. He knew which side he was on.
Another fact, Roosevelt said, “They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred. I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.”
We move our tale forward now to the present day. Fact: President Barack Obama, in his first State of the Union message said “Change has not come fast enough, especially for Americans who are losing their jobs.” He could have added, and their homes, but he didn’t.
That speech came before the passage of the travesty called “Health Care Reform”….no strong public option….something the insurance giants spent millions to defeat. In that same address, he scolded his Democrat majority in Congress, saying, “People expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills.”
That is exactly what they did and this President might as well have gone with them. Instead, he decided to address the budget deficit, proposing a crippling pay-as-you go rule. He apparently has given up on ideological issues that would require more spending on programs for the jobless, the homeless, the under employed. Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote of the spending freeze (from which the Pentagon is exempted) “Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world view, and more specifically he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008.”
Other economists, James Galbraith for one, note that the only thing that is keeping us from sinking into a second Great Depression is deficit spending. The immediate threats to Americans are unemployment, foreclosure and personal bankruptcies….more than 60 percent of which come about due to staggering health care costs.
State and local governments are in deep trouble and the big entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security could come to be targets of “deficit reduction” if the President does indeed bypass Congress and create a “deficit reduction commission” by executive order, meaning the people and the Congress would have no say in its membership and responsibilities.
Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security would be inviting targets for such an unelected commission.
We come to the end of the facts at the base of this folktale. What happens as the current President’s term in office expires? Possibilities which are fiction…for now:
Power in the White House and the Congress shifts to the right. Far to the right.
The Pentagon has plenty of money. America’s military continues to attack in Iraq and Afghanistan. More and citizens of those countries turn against America. The number of terrorists and terrorist attacks increase as more people join the underground. Pakistan and Iran undergo the experience of American bombing and military presence. At the same time the number of American military and native civilian fatalities and casualties mounts. American wounded come home to discover there are fewer services available to them.
As time goes on more Americans are out of work or underemployed and certainly underpaid. Darkness descends on local and state level government and business as doors are locked and lights go out. Prices continue to rise as the availability of consumer goods decreases.
The “historic” Health Care Reform measures enacted under the last Administration become hopelessly snagged in a morass of bureaucracy and regulations. Doctors, hospitals and other health care entities opt out… premiums go up.
We can end this by noting that in most fairytales and folk tales there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is little reason that light could not illuminate a near future in which citizens, disgusted to the point of nausea, with leaders who would rather compromise with power than stand with the so-called “powerless” come together and install leaders whose true agenda includes only the good of those who provide the sweat, the blood, the tears upon which power feeds.

Jack Fairweather lives in Magdalena and his views do not necessarily represent those of the Mountain Mail.

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