Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Good Riddance To Cantor And Kyl In Debt Ceiling Talks—Let’s Stand Up Against The Borderline Disloyal Republican Opposition

Extreme conservative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has pulled out of the ongoing debt ceiling talks in Washington.

Republican Senator John Kyl of Arizona–who has a problem with facts–has also left these talks.

It appears that additional stimulus  and possible tax increases for those most able to pay may be on the table as needed steps to help the economy.

What a welcome difference from the Republican strategy of working to keep the economy from recovering in order to hurt President Obama politically.

I’m wary of all sides in these talks. It is hard to see how the unemployed and the poor have any champions in Washington. Millions of hard-working middle class Americans also seem left out as the rich get richer and corporations gain more power each day.

Let’s hope that President Obama and Democrats in Congress stand up for everyday Americans in these talks against a borderline disloyal opposition that wants to dismantle our government for the benefit of a greedy few, and in the name of pre-Civil War notions of small government.

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June 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 7 Comments

Companies Invest More In Machines Than In People—We’ve Got To Fight For Ourselves As Working People

The New York Times reports that companies are spending more on new computers and other machines than they are spending on hiring new people.

From the Times

“…Workers are getting more expensive while equipment is getting cheaper, and the combination is encouraging companies to spend on machines rather than people. “I want to have as few people touching our products as possible,” said Dan Mishek, managing director of Vista Technologies in Vadnais Heights, Minn. “Everything should be as automated as it can be. We just can’t afford to compete with countries like China on labor costs, especially when workers are getting even more expensive.” Vista, which makes plastic products for equipment manufacturers, spent $450,000 on new technology last year. During the same period, it hired just two new workers, whose combined annual salary and benefits are $160,000.”….with the rising costs of hiring, companies like Vista are finding ways to use capital to replace workers whose jobs are relatively routine. “If you’re doing something that can be written down in a programmatic, algorithmic manner, you’re going to be substituted for quickly,” said Claudia Goldin, an economist at Harvard. To add insult to injury, much of the equipment used to replace American workers is made by workers abroad, meaning that capital spending is going overseas. Of the four pieces of equipment Vista bought last year, one was made domestically…”

Could somebody please tell me where people are going to work and how they are going to get by as we move forward in this country?

Here is where we seem to be in our nation today—

* We’re cutting spending on education that would prepare young people for the job market.

* We won’t ask the most wealthy to pay more taxes.

* Employers won’t hire even at a time of record profits.

* Government is laying off thousands of workers.

* Many people who are working are unable to get a steady 40 hours a week.

* There is vehement opposition from the right to the extension of health insurance to all Americans.

* Unions are under assault. 

* Pensions are a thing of the past and people’s retirement—if they even have a 401K—is at the whims of the stock market.

* Social Security and Medicare are under constant attack.

* Poverty is rarely mentioned by leaders of either major political party.

* The unemployed don’t seem to be on the agenda at all as states cut back on unemployment benefits and the talk in Washington is about debt reduction.

It seems that the average person is being abandoned in America.

Given the direction we are headed, how are even the most hard-working people going to find steady work and good benefits?

The good news is that average people have the ability to fight back and to demand a fair return for the work they are willing to do. People are not helpless.

Here is a series of articles from The American Prospect Magazine about the problems facing middle class American and about some possible solutions.

The work of a better and more fair nation and society is up to each of us.  Every individual has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, and even run for public office.

If you don’t take control of your future, somebody else will.

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 7 Comments

American Companies Report Record Profits—I Guess That Means More Layoffs

American companies have reported record profits for the third quarter of 2010.

From the New York Times-

“The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever. American businesses brought in $1.66 trillion at an annual rate in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or non-inflation-adjusted terms. Corporate profits have been going gangbusters for a while. Since their cyclical low in the fourth quarter of 2008, profits have grown for seven consecutive quarters, at some of the fastest rates in history. This breakneck pace can be partly attributed to strong productivity growth — which means companies have been able to make more with less — as well as the fact that some of the profits of American companies come from abroad.”

What do you think these profits mean for working people?

Layoffs?

Wage cuts?

Benefit cuts?

More temporary workers instead of full-time positions?

Who should we blame for the hard times facing the American worker?

Obama?

Immigrants?

What a country this is right now.

And when things are seen as in batter shape by American companies, will they hire at decent wages or will they keep folks unemployed and underemployed with temporary workers and two-tiered wage scales?

November 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Two Weeks After Election, Republican Focus Remains On Everything But Jobs & Economy

It has been two weeks since Republicans made significant  gains across the country on Election Day.

The focus of the election was jobs and the economy. 56% of folks in a recent CBS News poll say the most important issue for the new Congress is jobs and the economy.

Yet as millions of Americans still deal with unemployment and underemployment, the Republican focus is on everything but jobs and the economy. Where incoming Republican governors have addressed jobs, it is to kill jobs by refusing already approved federal dollars for high-speed rail infrastructure projects.

Examples—

* Republicans in control of the House of Representatives are planning nearly 300 investigations of President Obama. The last time a Republican House went after a Democratic President, it led to a destructive impeachment process. What excesses will we see this time?

* Newly-elected Republican Governors are killing high-speed rail projects that will create jobs. In Wisconsin, soon-to-be Governor  Scott Walker received large amounts of campaign cash from road builders who have a direct interest in stopping rail projects. Wisconsin had an unemployment rate of 7.8% in September.

* The Republican President of the Kentucky State Senate, David Williams, declared his allegiance to the Tea party and said  he supported repeal of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment allows for the direct election of  U.S. Senators. Mr. Williams believes that returning election of Senators back to state legislatures would move our nation back to the limited measure of popular sovereignty first written into the constitution.  Many Tea Party supporters back this position.

Do you want to give your vote for United States Senator away? This is Tea party extremism in action.  In September of 2010, Kentucky had an unemployment rate of 10. 1%. Yet what the Republican President of the State Senate is discussing is no longer allowing the public to vote for U.S. Senate.

* In Texas, Governor Rick Perry and Republicans in the state legislature are considering pulling out of Medicaid and out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is being considered even though 3.6 million Texans use these programs. You can be certain that many in Republican rural Texas use these programs. Is this what these folks were voting for earlier this month? We’ll see about that when people find out that benefits are being cut.

What about all the people in Texas who work in jobs connected to health care? With such drastic cuts in funding, where will these people find work? Isn’t it good and honest work to be employed in health care so people can get better and go on with life? Where will we have any jobs in this society if we go after everything?

The leader of the U.S. House Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Michele Bachmann, spent her time spreading a lie that President Obama’s trip to India was costing 200 million dollars a day. This assertion was simply not true.

What exactly  is the point of undermining the President of the United States as he goes to visit a globally important nation like India?

For Republicans in Washington and in states across the nation, this election was not about jobs and the economy. Instead, the election was about extreme ideology that puts the jobs and the health of the American people at risk.

Anger at Washington is not going to get you a job. It is not going to pay the bills if you get sick. The Republican bait-and-switch is in already in evidence. These folks have no constructive thoughts.  It is the same anger-driven politics that led to President Clinton’s impeachment and to the placement of Sarah Palin on the national ticket two years ago.

It’s up to all of us to be aware of what is taking place, and to make sure that Congress is focused on jobs and the economy and not on sideshow hearings and ideological tangents.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Work When Over 50 In A Changing Economy—Ice Delivery Did Not Last Forever

photo

Bud Korbee died recently in the Cincinnati area.

Mr. Korbee was one of the last people in Cincinnati employed in the job of delivering ice to people’s homes.

Above you see a picture of Mr. Korbee.

Here is a portion of Mr. Korbee’s obituary from the Cincinnati Enquirer—

“Bud Korbee, who was born to a butcher shop owner and homemaker in Norwood, joined his uncle’s ice delivery business while still in high school. His uncle died during Bud Korbee’s senior year, and the young man decided to keep the family business going instead of going to college. “It looked like a good business, like it would last forever,” said Harold G. “Hal” Korbee, his oldest son, a lawyer in Cincinnati for 45 years. In its best times, the little ice company employed seven workers, including family members like Hal Korbee, driving three ice trucks. They would stop, put a burlap sack on their shoulder and, using large tongs, pull off a 25- pound, 50-pound or 100-pound block of ice, which they’d carry to houses, businesses and apartments, sometimes up four or five stories.”

Mr. Korbee thought that maybe the ice delivery business “would last forever.” Imagine that.

You don’t have to be an advocate of ruthless competition and tearing the social safety net to shreds to realize that you have to be ready for what may come next in life.

The good news in this case is that Mr. Korbee did have another skill. And, in addition to this other skill, he was able to find an employer who would hire him.

From the obit—

“One of Bud Korbee’s hobbies became his next career as his ice business was dying. Bud Korbee loved gardening and kept a rose garden at home. He became a residential and commercial landscaper for Bud Jones & Sons Inc. from 1957 until he retired in 1980.”

I’m glad it worked out for Mr. Korbee.

The thing I wonder about today is will those who have lost jobs in the recession be able to find a decent job again?

While the obit does not give a birth date, based on his age Mr. Korbee must have been born in 1905 or 1906. He took the job with the gardening firm in 1957 just as he was turning 50.

Here is a recent New York Times story where people 50 and older who have lost their jobs voice concerns that they may not be able to find full time work ever again.

From this story—

“… older workers suspect their résumés often get shoved aside in favor of those from younger workers. Others discover that their job-seeking skills — as well as some technical skills sought by employers — are rusty after years of working for the same company. Many had in fact anticipated working past conventional retirement ages to gird themselves financially for longer life spans, expensive health care and reduced pension guarantees. The most recent recession has increased the need to extend working life. Home values, often a family’s most important asset, have been battered. Stock portfolios are only now starting to recover. According to a Gallup poll in April, more than a third of people not yet retired plan to work beyond age 65, compared with just 12 percent in 1995…. in the greater Seattle area, a fifth of those claiming extended unemployment benefits are 55 and older.

If average people think they won’t need help from government in the economy of the future, they are in for a rough surprise. You can talk about small government all you want, but people are going to need help.

One way people are being helped is with Health Care Reform. HCR reform means you can’t be kicked off a policy for getting sick and it eliminates  lifetime limits on polices. Already, and in the years, to come it will expand access to health insurance for millions of hard working Americans. Click here to read about how HCR will benefit working Americans.

Technology has been changing how people work for a long time. Mr. Korbee lost his job in ice delivery in the 1950’s because in-home refrigeration became accessible to almost all people.

I wonder how Mr. Korbee would have done if he lost a job today due to new technologies.  It seems that he might have had a tougher time than he did in 1957.

I know this—Reflexive bashing of government is not going help anybody get a job or get through hard times.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Can Live Like Decent People In A Society Or We Can Live Like Wild Beasts In The Tea Party Republican Jungle

When the economy improves, it is still going to be difficult for many to get a good job.

From the Associated Press

But once employers do step up hiring, some economists expect job openings to fall mainly into two categories of roughly equal numbers:

• Professional fields with higher pay. Think lawyers, research scientists and software engineers.

• Lower-skill and lower-paying jobs, like home health care aides and store clerks.

And those in between? Their outlook is bleaker. Economists foresee fewer moderately paid factory supervisors, postal workers and office administrators.

That’s the sobering message American workers face as they celebrate Labor Day at a time of high unemployment, scant hiring and a widespread loss of job security. Not until 2014 or later is the nation expected to have regained all, or nearly all, the 8.4 million jobs lost to the recession. Millions of lost jobs in real estate, for example, aren’t likely to be restored this decade, if ever.

These are the structural facts of our economic future.

Our choices are that can work hard as honest people do while looking to government that helps with a safety net that includes expanded access to health insurance and unemployment benefits for people looking to get back to work.

Or, we can take the Tea Party Republican course and starve government as the private sector goes on cutting jobs, cuttings wages, and cutting benefits.

We can live like people in a decent society who understand that folks need help sometimes and that our economy is changing.

Or, we can live like beasts in a jungle fighting each other for evermore scare resources.

I’m going to live like a decent person who works for a living, has no problem asking for help if required, and who is willing to pay taxes so all of us can live in civilization instead like wild beasts in a jungle.

You are out of your mind if you think the average person in this society is not going to need help from the government to maintain access to health care and to help live in retirement.

Read here about health care reform. It is going to help a lot of hard working people in our great nation. The fact that it is going to work is what upsets the Republicans so much.

(Below–The Republican Tea Party view of life and society. Right makes right and survival of the fittest. A pair of bear-dogs, Hemicyon sansansiensis, prepare to feast on a slain paleomerycid ungulate, in Miocene, France as drawn by Stanton Fink. )

w—Tea Party Republican view of existence. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Hemicyon_sansaniensis.JPG

September 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Millions Using Food Stamps—The Functions Of Social Welfare Programs

The New York Times reports that 36 million Americans are using food stamp programs. Here is a portion of the what the story on this subject says—-

“It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs….Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare….While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply. That bipartisan effort capped an extraordinary reversal from the 1990s, when some conservatives tried to abolish the program, Congress enacted large cuts and bureaucratic hurdles chased many needy people away.”

Here is the full story.

I made a point to use the part of the story that talks about the role former President George W. Bush and Republicans played in making the program more available. I was not aware of this and it was not what I expected to read.

I don’t have any illusions that President Bush and the Republicans who ran Congress for much of his time in office were very nice folks, but sometimes in life you get surprised.

Of course, you never know what people’s motives are.

A book I read some years ago about the history of public benefits for people in need was Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare by Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward.

Below is an assessment of this book by an Alice Chang. Ms. Chang is an activist and author in Oakland.

I believe that Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward’s Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, first released in 1971, is perhaps one of the most important books to read for anyone trying to understand the relationships between welfare policy, poverty and coerced labor. Piven and Cloward expose how welfare policy not only does not give poor people “relief” from poverty, but forces them to accept low-wage, exploitative, dead-end jobs. In fact, Piven and Cloward suggest, poverty policy and practice have historically been coupled with labor practice to accommodate local employers’ demands for cheap labor, particularly in service work and in agriculture. Poverty policy is designed and implemented to serve two basic functions. In times of economic downturn, welfare can be expanded to prevent or quell uprising by unemployed masses. Or, in times of relative economic and political stability, welfare can be contracted to expel people from the rolls, thus ensuring their availability to do low-wage work for local employers. Piven and Cloward describe this second function of welfare policy as ‘enforcing’ low-wage work, and the term is just as useful today in describing the use of so-called ‘welfare-to-work’ policies to coerce working poor people into ever more exploitative low- and no-wage jobs.”

The paragraph above is from the web home of the AFL-CIO. It is from a page on the website called–Books, Films, Plays, and Lessons that Change Lives.

36 million people in a lot of folks. And that is not all the people who would qualify for this program under full enrollment.

I hope President Obama soon takes a more active role in addressing the economic concerns of Americans.

It would be good to hear the President speak about how he thinks Americans will find work in a time when technology is helping employers shed jobs, working people have little money to spend to help fuel the economy, and other nations in the world are entering the global economic mainstream.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

John Maynard Keynes & Deadheads

Here is what the great economist John Maynard Keynes (above) said in favor of government intervention in the economy—

“….There was no expenditure…it was thought proper for the State to incur except for war. In the past, therefore, we have not infrequently had to wait for a war to terminate a major depression. I hope that in the future we will not adhere to this purist financial attitude, and that we shall be ready to spend on the enterprises of peace what the financial maxims of the past would only allow us to spend on the devastation of war.. At any rate, I predict with an assured confidence that the only way is for us to discover some object which is admitted even by the deadheads to be a legitimate excuse for largely increasing the expenditure of someone on something.”  

I like this for two reasons. One is that it allows me to help make the case for government involvement in our economy. It is good that we live in a time when government is taking an active role in our economy, and is seeking to regulate and guide the economy rather than just letting this current deep recession take its course on people’s prospects in life. 

If we’re all just left the private sector, we will not have the opportunities in life that collectivist initiatives can offer the struggling but hardworking person.  

Here is a profile of Keynes from the Time magazine list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Read about him and see what you think. Keynes lived from 1883 until 1946.

The excerpt above comes from the book Global Capitalism–Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century by Jeffry Frieden.  This is a solid book that fills you in on capitalism as practiced—for both good and ill—in all parts of the world for a span of more than 100 years.

The other reason I like what Keynes said is that it allows me to run a picture of some deadheads from a Grateful Dead concert. Below you see a  picture of many deadheads at a Grateful Dead show.

I once went to a Grateful Dead concert. I was curious to see what it was like. I went at some point in the early 90’s. The show was just outside Columbus, Ohio and I think the temperature was about 102.  The opening act was Bruce Hornsby and the Range. I have to admit it was one of the most boring concerts I’ve ever seen in my life. That said, I had some sympathy for the deadheads traveling around and following the Grateful Dead.

They were just bumming around and getting stoned and whatever else they were doing. They were not bothering anybody and they seemed good-natured enough. I remember some of them were selling food and other things in the parking lot at the show.  I bought some spaghetti with sauce a one guy.  Maybe my purchase bought him a gallon of gas to help him get to the next concert.  

Here are annotated Grateful Dead lyrics.

May 7, 2009 Posted by | Books, History, Music, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

So That People Can Have Jobs, I Avoid Doing Online What I Can Do With A Real Person In The Real World

To the extent it can be avoided, I never do online or on any automated system what can be done with a real person in the real world.

Working people need to help other working people keep their jobs. 

Some examples—

I don’t have direct deposit of my paycheck at work. The bank teller needs a job.

When I book a car rental, I do so over the phone and not by computer.

I take the real paper at home instead of only reading the online edition.  When I go out of town, I put delivery of the paper on hold by calling someone in the circulation department instead of doing it by computer. 

I try to buy things in stores and not online. I’m not perfect in this respect, but I do pretty good.

When I go to the racetrack with my father when visiting back home in Cincinnati, I use the ticket window staffed by a person to make a bet and not the automated ticket machine.

At the airport parking lot when it is time to pay up, I go to a booth with a person in it rather than to a  no-person exit.

When calling the cable company or the utlilty company, I hit the zero on my phone until I get a person.

I use computers in my life. I use technology in many different ways. I know many will value what they define as convenience over the the benefits of helping create work for people to do.

Some may need the savings that, sometimes, come from buying online. Though over the longer haul, when we have no work, it will be very hard to save money that we are not earning. 

I can’t do anything about what other people choose to do.

I’m simply saying that for myself, I try to use the services of human beings so that people will have jobs.

I ask you to please consider this course in your daily life to the extent  you feel you are able.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Have High Unemployment Rates

USA Today reports that 11.2% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are currently unemployed

From the article—

“The economic downturn is hitting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans harder than other workers — one in nine are now out of work — and may be encouraging some troops to remain in the service, according to Labor Department records and military officials.

The 11.2% jobless rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who are 18 and older rose 4 percentage points in the past year. That’s significantly higher than the corresponding 8.8% rate for non-veterans in the same age group, says Labor Department economist Jim Walker.”

This high unemployment is the thanks we offer as a nation for the service these veterans have offered.

Whether it be children, old folks, or veterans, the widespread expression of public sentiment in our society for any group of people is often the kiss of death. 

We often despise people who remind us of our potential weakness as individuals and who remind us of our obligations to others.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 7 Comments

I Thought Republicans Were For Rallying Around Our President In Time Of Crisis

I thought Republicans believed that in a time of crisis all Americans should rally around our President. I can recall Republicans who said we had to get behind George W. Bush and all his wars so we could avenge the attacks of September 11, 2001. I might even be able to recall suggestions—subtle and otherwise—that people who did not support George W. Bush were not fully loyal.  

Well—This does not seem to be the case for Republicans anymore as President Barack H. Obama works to fight our economic crisis. Where is the Republican message of “country first” that John McCain kept pushing at us for all those months?

I guess supporting our President in these hard times for our nation is not as important as the Republican religion of tax cuts as the cure to every ill, and the Republican fear that a government that helps people will show a path outside of ceaseless brutal competition with each other.

Patriotism is sitautional with Republicans in Congress. That is if loyalty to the nation is what motivated them in the first place after September 11. Maybe what they saw was Karl Rove’s vision of a permanent Republican majority in a nation always afraid of another terrorist attack.

Barack Obama should not get everything he wants just because he says so. The Democratic majorities in Congress must be independent in a way that the previous Republican majorities were not. Just don’t expect much constructive input from Republicans. Whatever it is that truly moves them, the good of the nation is not so high on the list.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

If Rick Warren Wants To Offer Prayers As We Nationalize The Economy—Then All The Better!

Some on my side of the ideological aisle are not pleased that right wing mega-preacher Rick Warren (above)  will be giving an invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration.

All I can say is this—

If three or four years ago you had told me that Rick Warren would be offering up a few words at the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama, while at the same time we might soon be considering an 850 billion dollar government stimulus package, and, in effect, partially nationalizing a fair portion of the American economy——

Well, I would have told you that would be one damned good day that I didn’t imagine I’d ever really live to see.  

Right on Pastor Rick! I’m happy to have you offering blessings for the liberal dream of an economically interventionist government beyond our wildest hopes of recent years.

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , | 4 Comments

Recession Is Like A Hurricane That Goes On For Months And Has No Evacuation Route

More jobs cuts today. It seems that big  job cuts take place every day.

This recession is like hurricane that goes on day after day and month after month. There is no evacuation route. You can’t just stock up on food and water and wait for it to pass.

What will  be left after it passes? It is hard to imagine at this point that the damage will not be significant.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

In Support Of Loans For The American Auto Industry

I support the extension of loans by the United States government to help save the American auto industry. What the auto companies are looking for are loans and not handouts.

The United Auto Workers union has agreed to major concessions to help the big three car makers and to help gain approval in Congress to pass the loan package.

Republicans in Congress would love to see the UAW go away as payback for its support of Democratic candidates. Revenge is not a suitable justification for endangering the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people.

One poll suggests the American people are currently opposed to what is being termed–incorrectly–as a “bailout.”

One can understand the fatigue with government money for private concerns. But where are we going to work in this country? How are we going to live? Where are decent jobs going to be found?

I think most people understand–on some level they understand–that what is at issue in this current economic downturn is not simply “when will it end” or “how will I get by for the next few months.”

Rather, the issue is that when the recession has passed as determined by the so-called economic experts, will we as individuals, as families, as members of a community, have viable economic futures? What jobs will be left with salaries and benefits able to sustain us?

I’m not going to oppose this loan package because of private jets, or political calculations, or pointless resentment over what UAW workers are earning. Instead, I’m going to support the future well-being of American workers.

By advocating for other working people, we are advocating for ourselves. By supporting this temporary assistance to the American Auto industry, we are backing the long term economic prospects of all Americans.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

I Early Voted In Harris County—Some Democrats I Enjoyed Voting For And Two That Failed To Impress

Yestrerday I early voted at the Harris County Administration building (above) located at 1001 Preston Avenue in Downtown Houston, Texas. 

The electronic voting gizmo, which I feel is programmed to flip all my votes to the Republican Party, allowed me to vote in Vietnamese—

(Sunset in a Vietnamese fishing village called Mui Ne

   

…And in Spanish as well.

( Below is Valparaiso, Chile.)

If English is the official language of the United States, how come I can vote in Vietnamese and Spanish in a right wing place like Texas? We’ve even been at war with Vietnam and Spain in the past.

I’m glad we have the ability to make peace with former enemies. We are all brothers and sisters.

I’m very glad I got the chance to vote for a black man named Barack H. Obama for President of the United States. That is what I call progress.

( Below–Blacks voting in 1867. Here is a history of Reconstruction)

I voted for each Democrat on the ballot. Though I did not use the straight party ticket button. I enjoy voting and I went down and selected the name of each candidate.   

I’ve written before, and still assert, that the straight ticket voter is possibly the most rational voter of all. Party identification serves as a kind of shorthand for voters to be able to navigate the large number of issues we confront in our complex society.

However, we do retain the right not to support all the candidates of our favored political party. Inevitably, some will be hard to take.

I paused over the names of Michael Skelly for the 7th U.S. House district from Texas and David Mincberg for the office of Harris County Judge Executive.

Mr. Skelly has campaigned in large part on the false issues of earmark reform and a balanced budget. These are irresponsible postions at a time when swift and decisive action from government is needed to bring our economy back to health.

Here is what Nobel Prize winning New York Times columnist recently said about government’s role in our economic recovery—

….there’s a lot the federal government can do for the economy. It can provide extended benefits to the unemployed, which will both help distressed families cope…It can provide emergency aid to state and local governments, so that they aren’t forced into steep spending cuts that both degrade public services and destroy jobs. It can buy up mortgages (but not at face value, as John McCain has proposed) and restructure the terms to help families stay in their homes. And this is also a good time to engage in some serious infrastructure spending, which the country badly needs in any case. The usual argument against public works as economic stimulus is that they take too long: by the time you get around to repairing that bridge and upgrading that rail line, the slump is over and the stimulus isn’t needed. Well, that argument has no force now, since the chances that this slump will be over anytime soon are virtually nil. Will the next administration do what’s needed to deal with the economic slump? Not if Mr. McCain pulls off an upset. What we need right now is more government spending — but when Mr. McCain was asked in one of the debates how he would deal with the economic crisis, he answered: “Well, the first thing we have to do is get spending under control.”

If Mr. Skelly’s opponent has been bringing earmarks to this district, that is one way we would be better served by keeping the incumbent. Regretfully, the incumbent is quite far to the right.   

David Mincberg has been running a tone deaf negative campaign against the Republican incumbent. After so many years of Republican rule in Harris County, there are so many unmet needs and things to to be done. Why don’t we hear about some of that? Instead, what we are getting are attacks against incumbent that are simply not going to resonate with the public after his very visible role during Hurricane Ike.

Also, Mr. Mincberg has a campaign sign—one so big that it needs to be propped up from behind with rods—located on the right of way on a 610 feeder road near the Galleria. I’d like to take that sign and nail it to the side of Mr. Mincberg’s house. (I won’t though. And don’t you either.) 

I did in the end vote for Mr. Skelly and Mr. Mincberg. Though I’m not sure that was the right course. There is little doubt these men would be better than the incumbents. But from my view, as a liberal who has lived in a city all his life and had my vote taken for granted by Democrats who deliver little, both Mr.Skelly and Mr. Mincberg send up warning flags.

It’s not about ideological differences. There are only two main political parties for 300 million people and a big tent is required. It’s about the issues you choose to focus on and how you campaign. There is plenty of room for political creativity and correct behavior in even the most Republican of constituencies. 

In contrast to Mr. Skelly and Mr. Mincberg, there were votes I was glad to cast—

Rick Noriega for the United States SenateMr. Noriega will be quite a contrast to the far right incumbent. He has served his country in war and is now ready to serve in Washington.  Also, his wife has been known to visit this blog.

Ellen Cohen for the Texas House District 134—It is good that Ms. Cohen appears to have an easy race after banishing the lousy Martha Wong in 2006.

Loren Jackson for Harris County District ClerkMr. Jackson is very honest, never puts a campaign sign in the public space, and once gave me a campaign tee-shirt. Below is a picture of Mr. Jackson. If you see him be certain to shake his hand and to tell him you share his commitment to freedom.  

Loren Jackson

Adrian Garcia for Harris County Sheriff—Mr. Garcia is going to bring some real justice to our county. Everybody is going to be treated the same and that treatment will be just and decent.   

It was fun to vote. I encourage all who share my views to go out and vote. As for those who do not share my views—I can’t offer as much encouragement. You might want to think about staying at home. I’m sure there is some dusting or laundry you could catch up on. 

( Below—The young women below wanted citizens to vote “no” on the showing of movies on Sunday in the town of La Grange, Illinois. This was in 1929. I don’t know how the vote turned out.)  

original negative 

October 27, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments