Thursday, February 08, 2007

Money Matters

Nevada Up North had some things to say regarding a subject that has been very much on my mind. The entire post is worth a look and pretty much sums up my own views on NAFTA, the WTO and free trade in general.

Dennis Kucinich has a problem with his plan for peace. At the winter meeting of the DNC he said he wanted to create a Department of Peace. That's fine, I agree with putting as much effort to peace as we do to defense. The problem with Kucinich's big happy world is that his economic policies completely contradict he goal. In fact, his economic policies even contradict his economic policies.

He discussed the issue in the context of Kucinich which is fine, I agree, Kucinich seems to be a genuinely kind, sincere person. So is my husband but he wouldn't make a good president either. It should apply to all of the candidates as well.

The issues, ie: Iraq, Iran, Darfur, North Korea, foreign policy in general, gay rights, health care, etc. are all important to me as I'm sure they are to all Democrats. Where NV Up North and I differ from many in our pack is that we also place great emphasis on our economy.

Yes, I know, many dems do not want to vote based on economic issues, it's all about emotional appeal and stance on human rights and welfare issues. Get over it. Economy is a human rights and welfare issue and business is part of it.

This has been the hole in our bucket. Corporations are all Evil and Wal-Mart Must Die attitudes will not serve us well. They will also ensure we do not maintain any position of power we have managed to obtain.

Yes, conservative, religious fundamentalists have been a problem for us. Guess what has helped them grow their movement? It's the economy stupid. Unfortunately AlterNet while making some good points does what we-of-the-left often do, gets more than a little muddled in understanding the roots of the problem.

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told his students that when we were his age -- he was then close to 80 -- we would all be fighting the "Christian fascists."

Adams understood that totalitarian movements are built out of deep personal and economic despair. He warned that the flight of manufacturing jobs, the impoverishment of the American working class, the physical obliteration of communities in the vast, soulless exurbs and decaying Rust Belt, were swiftly deforming our society. The current assault on the middle class, which now lives in a world in which anything that can be put on software can be outsourced, would have terrified him. The stories that many in this movement told me over the past two years as I worked on "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" were stories of this failure -- personal, communal and often economic. This despair, Adams said, would empower dangerous dreamers -- those who today bombard the airwaves with an idealistic and religious utopianism that promises, through violent apocalyptic purification, to eradicate the old, sinful world that has failed many Americans.

So, the argument is we return to a more insular economy and massive protectionism? How long do you suppose this would work before the entire system came tumbling down around our ears? Think it through, how well did it work out for Japan or the former Soviet Union?

Ok, so millions of jobs have been exported to China, India and other havens of "cheap labor". That's painful, it's also created a middle class, read consumer class in those countries. It's also pushing up the wage scales in those long do you suppose before it is no longer such a bargain to outsource to Singapore? It's inevitable.

Does this mean we have to leave half our population jobless in the meantime? NO. Absolutely not. Where we've failed miserably is in educating our people for the new realities and in not setting good policies for working with business to provide better terms for workers.

This is where the Republicans fall flat on their faces. We are not and will likely never be a "socialist" nation much as the right likes to claim all democrats are raving Marxists, that's a total myth. We do however recognise something the righties do not: government DOES have to take some responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. Leaving it all in the hands of for-profit corporations with no checks and balances was never going to work any more than leaving it 100% in the hands of government would. There has to be a partnership, no matter how unwilling and we have to be the ones to demand it.

Taking a hard line all-or-nothing stance either for or against business or free trade is not going to accomplish anything except more misery for all the people slugging along in the middle or on the bottom of the pile. I like results more than I like ideology.

That does not mean I would vote for a flaming social conservative to protect the economy, I wouldn't. Not in this lifetime. It does mean that when scrutinizing potential candidates whose social and foreign policy views I like I also have to scrutinize their economic views. Cutting off my nose to spite my face and make a point is not my forte.

We have only two candidates at this time that I see who have any grasp of the economic issues: Clinton and Richardson. Obama, I loves you but you lost me when you went stumping on the "Wal-Mart Must Die" trail with Edwards. It might have played well with the far left, for those of us living in bumfacked, podunk, Realityville it didn't wash. Try working with Wal-Mart to improve working benefits for their employees instead of demonizing them and come back in 4 years. I know, I know, I don't love them either but they are part of the American landscape and you just can't shoot them.

Instead of making fun of discount store shoppers (and yes, mea culpa, I've done it occasionally too) how about we work on ways to improve their lot in life? Killing the corporations who employ many of them will not help them. Finding ways to make health insurance more affordable, providing carrots that reward businesses for paying living wages, and simply raising the bar for what is expected in the way of working conditions, pay and benefits would help them.

Rant over. Please, please, please think long and hard about economic issues along with all the other issues before you vote. I want equal rights and access to services for all. I also want everyone to eat regularly and be able to live in decent homes. Someone has to pay for all these things so crushing Wall Street, while it might be fun in a mean, take that you weenies sort of way, would be like shooting ourselves in the foot to prove guns are dangerous.

I don't know where the saying originated but mothers all over have a saying for their children when the little dears insist on doing something mom has told them will cause them harm and they fall down and hurt themselves anyway. I'm not religious but the saying is still good.

God don't like ugly.

Hat tip to And, yes, I DO take it personally.


opit said...

Only in the U.S. of A. would you dream you are a "leftie". The lunatic fringe makes so much damn noise over any sense that the function of government is to work for all the people - including the privileged - that the idea of a social system providing the infrastructure which allows for successful small businesses ( precursor of larger ones ) has not so much fallen into disrepute as been a casualty of infighting, big business and lobbies.

Not Your Mama said...

Oh, I totally agree. Our "left" is largely composed of people who would be called centrist or even conservative in most of the industrialized world.

Our "right" has spun off into complete insanity. Many of us are simply too close to the problem to see this clearly.