Saturday, March 26, 2011

They Really ARE Making This Up

In this first week of Spring 2011 I have watched political theater from the U.S. Congress and the Minnesota Legislature with dismay. Urgent public business is on their plates - poverty, unemployment, senseless weapons violence, global climate degradation, and three overseas war efforts, in Washington, D.C. In St. Paul we have
borrowed money from the public schools and other dedicated funds to "balance the books," but still are in the hole more than five billion dollars. The triumphant Minnesota Republican Party is churning out budget messages that slash programs and priorities that bi-partisan state governments have built up for the last four decades.

One searches for an explanation - why has our democracy apparently gone nuts?

Listening to the set speeches and talking points of a Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader McConnell, a Tea Party Spokeswoman, or in St. Paul, to Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, one hears rhetoric of alarm at an expanding government that is threatening our freedoms. Spending is out of control! Rampant fraud, waste, and abuse! Reform now! It's about public employee pensions, the K-12 education system, local government, higher education, and on and on...

Who is making this up?

Since Governor Reagan of California became President, we have had drummed into us that "Guvmit" is The Problem. It follows that Bigger Government is a terrible problem, so we must reduce it's size.

Since the early 1980's we also have "watched" as the income disparity in America has become huge. Ordinary folks have not benefited from gains in productivity, but a narrow upper class, that runs our institutions, has benefited mightily. By spreading this nutty speech, that defies logic, science, reality, and common sense, these favored few keep THEIR taxes small and shed responsibility for anyone else.

Let's examine a few of the "facts" they would have us accept.

We are "Broke." That is true only if no one expects our representatives to ask for a fair contribution from everyone, based on what they can afford. Governor Dayton has proposed adding an additional tier onto the Minnesota Income Tax that will gather several billion dollars to address the huge deficit left to him by former Governor Tim Pawlenty.

We need to "Reform" the way we teach High School. Use electronic technology, distance learning, new media. Leave no child behind. I suggest these speakers visit some nearby high school media centers and shop classes. Count the number of students in the classes. Talk to their teacher neighbors. Our Superintendent, School Board Members, and Teachers in my district need that withheld share of state financial support to do their jobs effectively. They are coping, but they also need more parental involvement and community support - Not Reform.

I must conclude that there is a concentrated effort, run by a handful of corporate masters, to poison the waters of public service in order to maintain their control and to continue to siphon off a lion's share of the profits of a captured free enterprise system.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Time was when Newsweek was a pretty good magazine and a way for a busy person to get a weekly digest of important news and opinion. But then they were sold and sold again. Stripped of writers worth reading and of reporters who covered the news well.
There used to be a feature in Newsweek for volunteers with a fresh and important point of view. It was called "MY TURN."

Here is MY take on the past week -

A People's Party, according to Robert Reich. It's time to give up the compromises that are losing ground for ordinary folks, at the expense of the rich. Class warfare is underway, but noone dares to call it. We've got to fight for justice, for fairness, and for an end to the military empire that America has become. Major corporations have seized the levers of power. Join Robert Reich and Jim Hightower, of the Hightower Lowdown, and let the battles begin!

Rebellion against Gadhafi in Libya, whatever should we do? Dictators once were cool for U.S. foreign policy. Now we can't stand the sight of slaughter anymore. One pundit has eleven options for our Commander-in-Chief. Defense Secretary Gates warns that a No-fly Zone requires us first to destroy EVERY anti-air installation in the country.

Does anyone remember that after World War II the United Nations Organization was created with a Declaration of Human Rights? We were UN champions once.

Let's call again on the UN, like we did in June 1950 when South Korea was invaded.
This international organization was formed to end wars and to ensure human rights. We can support humanitarian and peace-keeping efforts of the United Nations in Libya right now. That is Option One from this observer.

Your turn!

POSTSCRIPT MARCH 10th! Yesterday, 3/9/2010, Newsweek arrived in my mailbox one day late. But it was worth waiting for. That same morning new editor Tina Brown was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition talking about the many changes she has made by combining her Daily Beast Blog and Newsweek. Hillary Clinton is on this week's cover. There are good writers again and some important news reporting. Even MY TURN is back. You saw it here first. -Gord