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January 26 Debate Review

January 27, 2012

(Promise all my posts won’t be political.  Tis the season, though)

This was a disappointing debate.  To explain why, this has been my opinion of the candidates:

Mitt Romney: A man of morals and principle; probably be a decent president.

New Gingrich: Smart, seasoned politician, lots of baggage but could be a great president.

Rick Santorum: A man of morals and principle; probably be a good president.

Ron Paul: Smart, honest, a man with great ideas and wacky ideas.  Would be a great president IF our enemies and the world would go along with his view of the world (seriously, if I didn’t think the world would go to hell without our influence, I think free world trade, non-interventionism and domestic priority would get things in shape quickly).

AFTER the debate.

Mitt Romney: A cold fish with the integrity of a con-man.  The negative junk is his fault, he lies about what he knows about his own campaign (and if he doesn’t know what he approved, he shouldn’t be president), he lies in his negative ads, he lives apparently by situational ethics (which explains his record).  I no longer think he’d be a good president, he just won’t be the disaster Obama is.

Newt Gingrich:  He’s still my choice, but he got mired down in defense.  His campaign depends on strong debate performance and he didn’t get a chance to shine last night being bogged down by stupid stuff.  During the fight with Obama he’d have the money and backing to do ads, to make speeches; any baggage stuff Obama brings up during a debate can be waived off for later examination while drilling into the issues (and Obama can’t bring up most of this since it’s baggage to conservatives—heck, some of that will play well with the left).  Stuck between a rock and a hard place, he had to defend himself from Romney’s negative campaign because the debate is his only forum to do so.  I hope he wins Tuesday, but he may not.

Rick Santorum: On fire last night.  If he hadn’t brought up Newt’s mandate and Mitt’s Romneycare, it would have been a home run for him.  He forcefully said the petty personal politics doesn’t belong here, made a strong response about faith and our founding documents.  If he hadn’t flung the negatives at Newt (who is trying to envision the sciences in our youth with his wild “colony on the moon idea”… more on that below) and Romney, he would have walked away with the debate.  As it is, I think he was the winner.  Only one slam should have been made, it was teed up and he didn’t take it.  When Romney said, “it’s nothing to get angry about,” Rick passed up the chance to say, “it isn’t anger, Mitt, it’s passion, something you know nothing about.  You can say a lot about Newt but he’s got fire in his belly where you have a cold fish. That’s why you don’t connect with Americans, you aren’t invested in this country, I am.”  Oh well.  Still, a good man.  Presuming he doesn’t get it, I’d like to see him try again when he has some more maturity.

Ron Paul: I don’t care who you are, you gotta love this guy.  If only the 50’s still existed, minus the Red Scare.  It all sounds so good; it just doesn’t survive a second look.  The world won’t let us withdraw.  And I cringe when he says how well medicine worked when he was young, you know, when advanced medicine was sulfa drugs and x-rays.

This is the first time I wish I was a registered Republican so I could vote in the primary. Before last night, I figured whichever got in would be fine.  No longer.  Romney may still win by buying the vote here with deceptive advertising, and I’d vote for him in the main election, but I won’t be any happier than I was voting for McCain.  And has anyone else noticed it’s the losers who’ve been endorsing him.  Dole?  McCain?  Who cares?

Moon Appendix:  “A colony on the moon in 8 years.”  Yeah, I know it’s ridiculous.  Just like it was ridiculous—and I mean pure fantasy—when Kennedy said we’d put a man on the moon.  I’m old enough to remember the excitement around the space race.  With that fantasy goal out there, anything seemed possible.  And right now, we need that feeling.  Too many of us feel turning the ship of state isn’t possible.  Big Hairy Audacious Goals are necessary.  Newts “plan” is offering prizes to private companies (something that isn’t paid until AFTER) and access to the launch facilities (oh my GOODNESS, that would be good for Florida) which have to be maintained anyway.  Does no one remember the technology boom and ancillary products that came from the space race?  Imagine what those would look like now?  Such a dream alone would inspire fuel alternatives.  In school we got blow-by-blow reports from our teachers, which made science fun.  You think Gates and Jobs weren’t inspired by that?

I think it was a bit silly to bring it up during a debate. (I also think Romney was a twit for saying he was pandering to states; Newt’s response was right on—he knows and understands what’s going on in each state.  Romney couldn’t match that if he tried.  All but saying Rubio would be his VP might have been pandering… unless that really is his intention.)

Maybe my next post won’t be political.  Maybe.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2012 7:13 am

    Yeah, I like the moon idea if only because I think the only way forward for the U.S.–and the world–lies in reinvigorating our scientific prowess. We need a big project that will lead to new technologies and alternative energies, because not a whole lot further down the fossil fuels road lie Very Bad Things. If we spent even a small fraction of our defense budget on stimulating R&D and subsidizing consumer adoption of new tech, it would make a big difference.

    But anyway, you want liberalism, then let’s start with a question. Why, exactly, do you believe the Obama presidency thus far has been “a disaster”? To preface, let me say that I am no fan of Obama myself these days–he promised a lot to get into office, and has delivered very little of it. I don’t entirely blame him for that, given the circumstances he inherited and the resistance he’s encountered. But I believe he could have done more to this point, and though there have been occasional glimpses of the Obama I voted for, I’m still waiting for that guy to really show up to the party.

    So the main critiques I’ve seen of Obama from the right range from deficit spending to handling of the economy to expansion of government/regulations to mistaken energy policy to foreign policy weakness, with the ignorant lunatic fringe of the right labeling him alternately communist or socialist, thus making it clear they have no earthly idea what those words mean aside from thinking they’re bad things to call somebody. So let’s take those one at a time, shall we?

    1. Deficit spending: Guilty as charged. BUT. Let’s not forget that BHO inherited a lousy economy, and history has shown that lousy economies generally require deficit spending, both to support those in dire straits due to unemployment as well as to stimulate the economy and stem the hemhorraging of jobs. The right likes to push the myth of “expansionary austerity,” suggesting that slashing government spending is the way to revive the engine of the private sector. Problem is, that’s never worked, and it isn’t looking to suddenly start working now. Let us also not forget that a large chunk of our current deficits are due to much-reduced revenue, caused in no small part by the 2001 Bush tax cuts. As present circumstances should serve to illustrate, those cuts didn’t work as advertised either. Obama gets a lot of grief for TARP and the 2009 stimulus–the TARP criticism is misplaced because that was a Bush initiative that Obama stuck with, and most economists agree that the only real failure of the stimulus was that it was too small to be very effective. It demonstrably preserved jobs, but it wasn’t enough to stimulate much of anything in the way of growth, so the right happily labels it a failure. If I have one main gripe with Obama from an economic standpoint, it’s that he hasn’t spent nearly enough. There is a renewed hawkishness about debt and deficits from the right, though they didn’t say much when Reagan doubled the previous 200 years of debt and then Bush I and Bush II each doubled it again. In 1980 the total debt was $909 billion–by 2009 when Dubya left office it was over $10 trillion, and that’s even with the few budget surplus years Clinton managed. Where were the GOP’s deficit hawks then? Anyway, debt truly isn’t our biggest problem, the lack of growth in the economy is. There’s also the fact that the rest of the world remains so eager to keep lending to us that it’s almost to our profit to borrow more at this time–so I argue we should be borrowing and spending more right now to get people working and inject money into the true economic engine of this country, the middle class. Dump money into infrastructure projects, for example–we’re only spending about 2.5% of GDP on infrastructure while China’s pushing 10%. That will put plenty of people to work, get them off the public dole, and get them back into the marketplace as consumers, which will snowball into more jobs as the demand for goods and services and housing goes back up. Once we’re back to healthy GDP growth, THEN deal with the debt, as Clinton did. In the meantime, we can at least narrow the deficits by, yes, raising taxes on the top earners in this country back to where they were a few decades ago–you know, back when strong economic growth was the norm and not the exception. I suggest that the last 30 years of “trickle-down” cutting taxes for the wealthy has resulted primarily in a larger income and wealth gap, an incredible shrinking middle class, and nothing good for the vast majority of the nation. But hey, it’s a sweet deal if you’re already among the 1%, right?

    2. Expansion of government: After GWB, Obama gets this charge? Really? Who created the Big Brother-like Department of Homeland Security and their Gestapo wing, the Transportation Security Administration? Who railroaded through the absolutely unconstitutional USA PATRIOT Act? Who passed Medicare Part D, the cost of which makes Obamacare look like a day at the park? Even if you look back to Reagan, the growth in government spending under Obama is much less. From this article: “Although GDP has been mediocre under Obama, he’s achieved a rebound in growth with much less stimulus than Reagan did, and, it should be noted, that despite predictions from many economists, there’s been no double dip, unlike with Reagan.” There may be something to the regulation piece–Obama’s first two years in office created less additional regulatory costs on business than did Bush’s last 2 years in office, but he’s still on pace to outmatch Bush over his first 4-year term. I don’t know enough about those regulations to make much comment on them or how they might be affecting the business environment. That said, if the regulations are meant to protect consumers and the planet from those who place profit above all else, I’m all for them.

    The main single piece of legislation that his detractors cite as big government running amok is, of course, Obamacare. And the largest sticking point therein seems to be the so-called individual mandate. But that’s hardly a new idea, since Mitt Romney implemented it first in Massachusetts, and he got the idea from the conservative Heritage Foundation. It’s a prime example, in my mind, of the polarization we discussed initially, and how even an idea embraced by one side becomes anathema as soon as the other side runs with it. Anyway, I do fault Obama for Obamacare, but certainly not because of the individual mandate. I fault him because it didn’t go far enough, and it ultimately represents a cave-in to the health insurance lobby. I think we are the only first-world nation left without a single-payer health care system, and as a result far more of our GDP goes to health care than any other first-world nation (17.3% of GDP in 2009, highest in the world), while being poor in America still amounts to a death sentence due to the lack of affordable preventative and acute care. Meanwhile, the right-wing in America vows to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, but I’ve yet to hear what they’d like to replace it with. I doubt it will be pretty, whatever it is.

    3. Mistaken energy policy: The Keystone XL rejection and Solyndra debacle are the most recent examples of the right’s issues with Obama over energy. But it’s very much worth bearing in mind how much the modern conservative faction relies on the support of people like the Koch brothers, whose many billions of dollars of personal wealth derived from fossil fuels. Of course they’re going to support the notion of drilling until the planet runs dry, and to do whatever they can to squash any idea that continuing to rely primarily on fossil fuels is a bad idea. For reasons of economics, security, and environmental protection we NEED to diversify our energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and the sooner the better. Obama is absolutely right to subsidize new sources of energy and new energy tech, and if a few of those companies fail along the way, that’s what businesses do, right? The first Keystone pipeline, meanwhile, is touted as being environmentally safe–if you’re okay with a dozen spills in its first year, I suppose. But that’s only the immediate concern; the longer and greater concern for me is anthropogenic global warming, which is undisputed at this point by every authority who isn’t a shill for the petrochemical industry. Even the Pentagon acknowledges it and considers it a major threat to global stability.. So why would we double down on what is widely believed to be causing it? Look, even if we can debate the cause of the global warming that’s happening, why wouldn’t we want to err on the safe side and look to develop ways to curb our fossil fuel usage, especially considering that fossil fuels are a finite source of energy anyway? The answer is dollar signs, and lots of them, dictating what is profitable over what is rational.

    4. Foreign policy weakness: Like you, I defer to the President on this topic for the most part, since he has far better sources of intelligence than we do. But I will say I found it telling how the right contorted themselves to avoid giving Obama any credit for eliminating Osama bin Laden–they praised the SEAL team, they praised the military in general, they praised Bush and the intelligence network he created, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to give any credit to the man who ordered the raid. And maybe ordering the raid was no big deal, but you’d better believe we’d have heard a ruckus from the right if it had failed. What I do criticize Obama for is in failing to apply the same principles at home that he has abroad. When Egypt and Iran brutally suppress protesters with police and military might, we cry foul–but when it happens right here in the U.S. the White House’s silence is deafening. When China and Egypt and North Korea move to restrict the free flow of information among their citizens by clamping down on the Internet, we cry foul–then we move to pass laws like PIPA/SOPA and ACTA that will have the same chilling effects, just instead in the name of protecting profits.

    Well yikes, I’m a budding novelist, sorry. 🙂 Some food for thought, anyway, I hope.

  2. January 30, 2012 8:42 pm

    There is a lot of good stuff in your post, Kelly, and I agree with more than you might think, but also take exception to several others.

    Fundamentally, my problem with Obama is his core belief that government is the answer to most problems. I’ll be the first to admit many Republicans effectively believe the same thing (which is why I’m an independent), but we have come to a place where the old way isn’t working and has actually gotten us into the current mess under both parties. We’ve hit a perfect storm in the housing crisis: over-regulation, burgeoning national debt, over-spending, terrorism and overseas competition. Whoever steps into this mess has to make all the right choices in an overly-complex system and Obama has shown himself to be incapable of being that person.

    Looking at some of these areas:

    Regulation: Some are absolutely necessary, but the market includes its own regulation called risk and competition. Too much of our current regulation (put in place by both parties) removes these factors. I did some work for a start-up bank that would have helped the community tremendously, but it was killed by a blizzard of regulations. Some of Dodd-Frank is good, most is vague and vagueness is costly. I worked for another bank that had to create procedures for every possible outcome of the regulation. I spent a year on P&P that ended up being scrapped because the laws went the other way. The bank had to invest millions to avoid millions in fines. This kills small banks and ensures only big banks survive. Yes, I think FDIC insurance is necessary, but guaranteeing loans was misguided and foolish. What lender wouldn’t hand out money like candy if there was no risk? Predatory lenders took advantage of government chum in the water.

    The PATRIOT Act: Again, some is bad news, but we’re in new waters with our enemies not being agents of a government. Detaining without trial is scary stuff, but so would putting them on public trial where they could give away important intelligence to their compatriots. Not comfortable with roving phone taps without court approval, but cell phones changed the landscape. As for looking over financial records, if peeking at my checking account will prevent another 9/11, I’m okay with that. Some reform would be wise, but government has been playing catch-up to technology and needs to get ahead of the curve.

    Subsidies: Absolutely not. None, gone. If Solindra needed backing they should have gone to investors, not the government.

    The Wars: I don’t understand the foreign landscape well enough, but I’m for decisive action. When Bush said, “mission accomplished” they all should have come home. It isn’t our job to prop up other countries.

    Foreign Relations: Here Obama has been an outright disaster. Okay, Bush hacked off our enemies, but Obama hacks off and disrespects our friends. Offending England at every turn, harming Israel with stupid recommendations. That is a long list that goes on and on. The faux pas with the Middle Eastern nation leaders? Ag!

    National Debt: Of this one, I have personal experience. When you go into debt and get to the point where you can’t pay for it or paying is crippling, you cut spending. Return as much governance back to the states as possible. Reform or eliminate wasteful or redundant departments. States can handle education, for example. Instead, establish a small Federal Arbiter Agency, with maybe 100 staff that mediates and interstate issues. Replace Homeland Security with InterAgency Communications and return domestic security to the FBI. Get rid of TSA (I didn’t have a blog then, but I was hyper critical of Bush’s terms as well).

    Taxes: Get rid of the current tax code and replace it with the Fair Tax. Until then, close all loopholes and deductions in personal income tax (except for mortgage interest, health expense and child expense, and if you home school, for those years opt out of educational tax). Don’t increase the burden of the rich, just close the loopholes. Drop corporate tax since they just pass it on to us anyway. Incentives keeping work here, penalize (lightly) sending it overseas (but if you do so, you must make it an attractive environment for business).

    Healthcare: This is a touchy subject because there are so many factors. I don’t feel competent to offer much intelligence on the matter. Tort reform, doctor-directed policy, a total overhaul of provider, insurance, and government interference for starters. I’m against mandates, period. Do away with pre-existing conditions, but allow competition to create affordable insurance products across states. I don’t want to be lumped in with smokers and drinkers and drug abusers, why should I pay extra premiums by being in a lump with them? I do think clinics for anyone who needs help and can’t afford it should be established, staffed by doctors and nurses who got school loans to go to school for a few years after they get their licenses. Encourage (somehow) non-profit insurance organizations. Just some thoughts.

    Entitlements: I’m big on accepting the consequences of our actions, with private assistance at certain waypoints of life. If you drop out of school, get pregnant out of wedlock, get addicted to drugs or alcohol, refuse training, or break the law, then you shouldn’t be allowed to starve, but if you want government funds, then you work for them, get training as part of it, and forgo luxuries. Assistance cards that can only be applied to certain products (like WIC currently does), not beer, steak, or luxury foods. Encourage corporations to offer training for specific skills (many are willing) and require participation from people who are on the dole. We were on WIC for a year when we first had kids and our goal was to get off it as soon as possible, not to take advantage of it. The government can’t include accountability in anything, so better, more efficient methods need to be found.

    Energy: We have to kick foreign oil and that means drilling here. I’m all for alternative energy (Siemens is making great strides). I don’t think the government should subsidize it. Newts idea of incentivizing private industry is interesting, but the progress is there. It’s just a long way from being ready, so oil it is. We’ve learned a lot since the first Keystone and the technology to prevent spills is there. We need it, he was foolish to deny it.

    Obama displays incompetence at his job. That’s not a big slam, there are maybe a handful of people capable of it. My biggest complaint with all politicians is their belief they can control the beasts of society. Their job is to protect the people through national defense, from fraud and other crime, from death by neglect, but not from their stupid choices. Churches and non-profits should help with that. A big part of America’s problem is the inability to accept consequences, and the big government safety net makes sure we don’t have to.

    Finally, Things that Need to Be Easier: Adoption, immigration (including a strong guest worker program), starting a business through to profitability, taxes, reading this post…

  3. February 1, 2012 1:53 pm

    lol, we do seem to be a pair of verbose debaters. Glad we aren’t paying by the word here! 🙂

    I’m pleased to see that we do have a lot of thoughts in common even though we’re coming from different sides of center. I think political discourse would be in much better shape if more folks focused on where their ideas converge instead of where they diverge, you know?

    So I wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea to strip away a lot of the details and start with a pretty fundamental question: what should the role of our government actually be? I think we can both agree on the simplest Constitutional definition for a start, which is to provide for the common defense of the nation, create our common currency, and create and enforce property rights. The government doesn’t even have any business granting individual rights, which some seem to think–as far as the founders were concerned, each and every one of us were born with a set of rights and the role of government was to not take those rights away, insofar as possible. We’ve come a long way since then, and I suspect we also certainly agree that we haven’t always gone in the proper direction.

    I would argue that our government also has an obligation to provide for the common welfare, and I think that’s done in a number of ways. One is infrastructure; for our economy to prosper, we need top-notch ways for goods and people to get around. We can’t really expect business to collectively provide roads, airports, trains, etc., so it falls to government. Similarly, I regard the role of government to include many necessary things that we can’t or shouldn’t count on business to provide, or that really shouldn’t generally be for-profit endeavors. Off the top of my head, I’d include public safety, basic education, postal service, law enforcement and corrections, and protection of the environment (which is obviously the least concern of many whose primary motivation is profit). I think it’s also important that there be a strong social safety net for when people do fall on hard times, whether through their own fault or not–but I concur that it should be more of a hand up than a handout. I don’t personally believe that health care should be a for-profit industry either, and should be a basic right of every person living in this country. The social safety net and universal health care don’t come cheap, obviously, but I regard them as good investments on the whole because failing to provide them is ultimately be even more expensive. Ideally every one of us will be healthy and productive members of society until we suddenly drop dead (having, of course, soundly provided for those we leave behind), but that’s not the reality and getting sick or suddely becoming unemployed should not be as devastating to an individual–and by extension, to the rest of society–as it so often is these days. Simply stated, no person should go hungry and uncared-for in the richest nation on the planet, whether they deserve it or not.

    At any rate, I think we both want a better world, and the devil (as they say) is in the details. 🙂 What I’m focusing on right now is how far and fast we’re going down the wrong road. And that road is the pursuit of wealth above all other considerations. Which is, essentially, the definition of free-market capitalism. However, unlike what many on the right think of the Occupy crowd (which I do consider myself a part of in spirit), I am not anti-capitalist, nor do I despise corporations in and of themselves. I’m wearing clothes produced by coporations while I sit at a desk using a computer and the Internet, all of which were provided to me by corporations. Where my problem comes in is with the unregulated free market in which, as I said, the profit motive trumps every other concern. I happen to think that people and the environment are more important than profits, and so I believe that government regulation of business to ensure there’s a balance between those concerns is absolutely necessary–because businesses sure as heck aren’t going to regulate themselves. They never have, and it’s against their very definition to choose any course but that of maximum profit. Do some regulations go too far, or discourage competition, or provide one faction an unfair advantage over another? Sure, and those deserve to be examined and revised or retired. But suggesting that we eliminate regulation for the sake of being business-friendly is tantamount to tearing down the chicken wire so the henhouse is as fox-friendly as possible. Great if you’re a fox, not so great if you’re one of the chickens!

    Similarly, I have no issue with the notion of social classes, and I do not begrudge the wealthy their fortunes. What I have a problem with is wealth for its own sake, wealth using its power only to create more wealth, and wealth earned by the greedy few at great peril and damage to the many (see: 2008 economic collapse). Someone like Steve Jobs who got wealthy by sheer dint of vision and fortitude, who not only bested existing product markets but created whole new ones? He deserved every penny, and more power to him. But someone who got wealthy by gambling with other people’s money, by simply moving money from pile A to pile B, by creating nothing but destroying value, crippling the less fortunate, and relying on the government to socialize the losses resulting from their risks so they could hang on to their privatized rewards? That I have a big problem with. The fact that the top 1% in this country earned 2 of every 3 dollars of new income in the past decade or so, while successfully lobbying to have their tax rates ever diminished? That I have a big problem with. Call it a socialistic frame of mind if you want, but I believe there IS such a thing as too wealthy, and we have many who fall into that category–to the detriment of the rest of us. The right likes to denigrate calls for fairness from folks like me, calling it envy or agitation for class warfare, but I still contend it’s just a call for fairness. It’s not fair that 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom 150 million. It’s not fair that the wealthy and the corporations they run can write checks to get whatever they want from the government, and the rest of us must take what’s on offer from our employers and like it. That plays against the right’s notion of bootstrappiness and the idea that everyone can make it if they have the vision and hard work. But even if opportunity were truly equal in this country (and it is not), the economy can’t work if everyone is an entrepeneur, and this country was made great by people like Henry Ford, who realized that providing good wages and benefits to his workers to create a robust middle class would benefit everyone, from bottom to top. That idea seems to have gone by the wayside these days, with stagnant wages and declining benefits for the middle class, while the cost of living steadily rises, corporate profits set new records, and corporate taxes reach new lows. It’s simply not fair, and it’s not class warfare to say so.

    So I maintain that the first and most important step down a better path is to get corporate money out of politics. Already in this election cycle, campaign spending by outside groups is 1600%–sixteen times–greater than it was at this point in the 2008 cycle. Gingrich was annihilated last night for one reason and one reason only, and that’s the differential in ad spending between his campaign and Romney’s. And you’d better believe that 1600% is only going to go up as the general election heats up. Free speech is one thing–opening our electoral process up to the highest bidder is quite another, and that’s exactly what has happened. The only way to reverse course is to put a stop to the free reign of corporate cash flowing to politicians, so they might once again make choices based on what is right instead of what is profitable to them and their sponsors. They are very, very rarely the same thing.

    • February 1, 2012 5:59 pm

      Again, we agree on much, with the exception of medicine and the wealthy, both stemming from the same basic rights granted by our creator: freedom.

      A general statement first: Non-profit must always be voluntary. We can’t tell people, especially doctors, that you must get tons of expensive training and make no profit from it. If you want to give it away, God bless you; if you don’t, I have no right to take labor from someone without compensation. Besides, if it were not-for-profit, who would become doctors? All that school, calls in the middle of the night… wouldn’t work. And for that reason, the government taking over healthcare isn’t just, right or fair.

      Same issue for the uber-wealthy. You’re only free until you make a certain amount of money? Then you’re essentially working for the state? I can’t go along with that.

      I agree 100% that money movers are a blight; I also agree that the sole pursuit of money is hollow, greedy and wrong. A certain amount of regulation is fine and necessary, but do we really have the right to strip people of wealth? We DO have the right and responsibility to prevent fraud, but if it’s legally gained, should we take it away? That there is something as too wealthy presupposes someone has the right to set what that rate is. Slippery slope best avoided.

      It was regulation/loan guarantees that caused the housing crisis (removing risk from lenders), and it was regulation that’s killing good, community-minded banks. I don’t want smog again, so some regulation is necessary; better would be environmentalists offering endorsements to responsible companies, thus informing consumers to vote with their checkbooks. Reporters need to reclaim that mandate, as well.

      Changing hearts, viewpoints, encouraging goodness; the wealthy are not immune (and you’ll find that a lot of them give tons to charity).

      I think the Occupy movement has the right to protest and even to passive civil disobedience (passive, not active. No property destruction, no trespassing, no being foul and offensive) but occupying a park and refusing to move? Okay. But part of civil disobedience is being arrested. I can’t find much to agree with them on as what I’ve heard is an immature rant against wealth, order and decency. I have a passion for critical thinking and the few I’ve talked to personally aren’t far different than those seen on media.

      They want to change how things work (I think, not really sure what the want done, come to think of it); I want to change how people think and believe. That is a better path to behavior modification.

      I also struggle with the stock market. Publically owned companies owe too much to non-employees at the expense of employees. Family owned business historically treat their employees better. I also believe it a biblical principle to work for your money, though there is a lot about investing in others, so come-see, come-saw.

      As someone who wants Gingrich to win, the buying votes 5-to-1 angers me. It makes me think a lot less of Romney, who will lie to get what he wants. I’m all for fact checking campaign ads, we still have truth-in-advertising laws, but that pesky first amendment makes restricting free speech a problem.

      Ultimately, I think the answer is found in creating bigger people than creating bigger governments.

  4. February 2, 2012 9:14 am

    Interestingly, the candidates themselves are spending far less on ads this cycle than in 2008, about 40% less so far. They’re letting the SuperPACs pick up that slack, and then some. SuperPACs may technically be unable to coordinate with the candidates they support, but it’s pretty much happening anyway.

    I definitely agree that Occupy has been less than clear about exactly what they’re protesting (and what they want done about whatever they’re protesting), I agree that violence has no place in any protest that wishes to be taken seriously, and I also suggest that the media (particularly the conservative-leaning outlets) have done a great job playing up the anarchist and anti-capitalistic element that’s present in the movement. To me their protest and demand comes down to the one main cancer I’ve been railing against, the influence of money on our politics and society as a whole. I do agree that trying to set a bar of how rich is too rich is bad news and a slippery slope. But don’t misunderstand me–I’m not saying that no one should be rich, nor do I advocate stripping the wealthy of their fortunes. I want the people with vision and who create value by working hard and taking risks to be rewarded. But there is no reason on earth why a CEO should be paid hundreds of times more than their employees. I’ve seen the right argue that those CEOs are the ones taking the personal risks and creating the jobs, so of course they deserve every penny. Sorry, but no. It’s the consumers who create the jobs, and the middle class represents 70% of consumer spending. And personal risks? Don’t make me laugh. I sure wish I could count on a golden parachute for when I fail. Should government be the one to dictate income equality, or how rich is too rich? Maybe not, but if it takes government to reinstitute a more progressive tax structure like we had in the boom years of the 50s and 60s to redistribute some of that wealth (a phrase I don’t at all regard as pejorative), so be it. If nothing else, Occupy has at least gotten people talking about income inequality as a problem, and to me that’s a big win.

    Nor am I saying at all that doctors (or anyone) should work for free, or fail to reap rewards from the many years of education (and cost thereof) their profession entails–there’s a difference between a not-for-profit endeavor and those whom that endeavor employs. Doctors and nurses should absolutely be paid well, whether they’re paid by their patients directly, insurance companies, or a single-payer government program. Looking at the data, doctors in the U.S. do generally make more than their counterparts in universal health care countries in terms of absolute dollars, but if you compare it in terms of purchasing power (with health care itself being a significant factor reducing the purchasing power of salaries in the U.S.), it’s a tad more even, with specialists in a couple countries earning even more than those in the U.S. Even so, the article also notes that U.S. doctors and nurses earn more than GDP per capita suggests they should, but they also incur far greater educational expenses than do doctors in other first world nations where that training is free or at least inexpensive (something else we might do well as a nation to look into).

    Don’t even get me started on public education, where the relatively low pay encourages many people of below-average intelligence to become teachers by default because it’s an easy degree to obtain, when we should actually be encouraging more of our best and brightest to be our educators.

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