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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

January 11, 2009


"Their" Problem

People can and will get used to just about anything. Just take a look at the rapid rise in gas prices which we had to digest in George W. Bush's second term. We agonized and complained about just how we were going to pay for our gas while we swore off big SUV's and pickup trucks that took sixty, seventy and up to one-hundred dollars worth of fuel but still paid it. And while we talked about hybrids and other alternative fuel vehicles, we secretly hoped that gas prices would just go down.

And they did.

We can get used to just about anything. After years of the Bush administration's bragging about "historically low unemployment rates", no matter how much wealth was lost by the middle class, we just accepted it. After all, even as that rate rose to 4.5 percent, then 5.5 percent, and even today's 7.2 percent, those of us with jobs still say things like, "Boy - I'm lucky to still have a job. Best to not rock the boat."

We measure things in our own terms. Unemployment is important only as it pertains to us and our immediate family. Sure, as we hear about mass layoffs and people like us losing their jobs, we say we care.

But do we?

We're used to suffering, and even if we don't like it, we tolerate it. We allow our leaders to talk the talk about places like Darfur, but we look at them as far off and more than simply a world away geographically.

But now, all of what ills the rest of the world is coming home to us. Unemployment has, more than likely, touched your family. Whether it's you who lost your job, a spouse, a brother or a sister or a very close friend, we all know someone who is saying at this very moment, "What do we do now?"

And they do mean "we". They have families; they have mortgages; they have car payments; and they used to have a promise of a job and health care and a pension, in many cases, that not only gave them a sense of well-being and a sense of pride, but a feeling that, even if they weren't around any longer, their loved ones would be taken care of.

Does anyone fell that way today?

Our economy - the Bush economy - has lost some 2.6 million jobs this year alone. Add to that some three million more Americans who went from full-time to part-time employment and those numbers become even more devastating.

There is no cushion. If you're one of the unfortunate, you can't afford to get sick. And if you do go to that doctor; and if that illness is more than just a cold; then you're going to have to figure out a way to pay. Period.

We have no guarantees of shelter of medical care in our Constitution. What we have - and what those at the top keep on saying - is that we have our bootstraps and we have to pull ourselves up by them. Figure out a way to do it. Remember, you're on your own.

The last year of the Bush administration has ended with a 7.2 unemployment rate. But worst than that is a promise of much worse times to come. And you can bet that if they promise those worse times, they will surely come. The way out is by empowering the middle class. It will take money and jobs and a real determination that we have only heard by speech, not performed by deeds.

The economic stimulus package being put together by President-Elect Barack Obama and the new Democratic Congress must put money in the pockets of those who will spend it. Additionally, the mew administration and leadership in DC must provide health care for everyone regardless of their ability to pay. And all of this must be done quickly.

it isn't just "their" problem anymore.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "'Itís only about oil!,' was the big Lib battle cry," David W. writes:

Just very recently, the former head of the American central bank, the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, just published his memoirs in which he said, and I quote, "I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: that the Iraq war is largely about oil."


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-Noah Greenberg