Monday, February 8, 2010

Obama's State of the Union Address (Part 8)

It seem to be somewhat dead here on the net tonight. Not much in the way of activity. Little chatter. May be that Facebook's new front page is squelching much of it. It could also be that most folks are recovering from the aftermath of last night media circus. The 2010 Superbowl is now a thing of history. The New Orleans Saint won. Well, gents, congratulations.

Some have likened the Superbowl as some decadent extravaganza that is similar to Nero's Gladiatorial circuses. It is from that experience that we derive the phrase "Bread and Circus" as a government way of appeasing the masses. That is not true. The Superbowl is vastly different in a very critical way. There is no bread.

Nero, in his infinite wisdom, hosted gladiatorial spectacles of butchery and mayhem. Fight's to the death were the norm. Releasing unarmed prisoners to wild, hungry cats was sport for entertainment. During these games, free to the public, Nero would have vendors throwing loves of bread to the spectators. Hence the term "bread and circus."

Our Superbowl is not anywhere near such a spectral. It is not free. Not by a long shot. The price for these seats ran between $800.00 and $1,000.00. Resold tickets were averaging $2,700.00. That is more than your average McJob holder makes in a month. The food one can get at the vendors is equally not free. It is a Capitalist extravaganza. And it is harmless amusement for many. I did, by the way, miss it.

Turn the page ....

Not sure what to make of this one. The details are sketchy at best. It seems that someone one is attacking rural Texas churches. According to a story released by AP this morning, nine churches have been hit by arsonist this year. It is something that has to be watched. Are these fires the crimes of vandals? Are the unrelated? Are they individual crimes of passion in response to some perceived slight? Or is this reprisal against the Religious Right's politics? Is this a political statement, a reprisal against soft targets for all of the inflammatory hate speech coming from the right? We do not know yet. The story is lacking detailed coverage. It is almost as if the story is an after thought filler of the Associated Press. We can only wait as see what come of this if it ever comes across the desktop again.

Once again, it is time to dust off the old Criminological tomes. This is where one has to look at Merton's work on anomie (lawlessness) and deviance. This is were deviance has a specific clinical definition of deviating from the cultural norm. When applied to roughly 30 million people who are unemployed or underemployed with 41% of those having been idled for more that 27 weeks then you are looking at roughly a population of 12 million who are now somewhere in a sate of deviation. They are being innovative in attempting to acquire gainful employment. They may have slid into ritualism where the grind through the web site looking for jobs, applying to the few which they are qualified for, and allying for the weekly stipend from the Unemployment Office, without any real hope of finding anything worthwhile. Others may have fallen into retreatism and are no longer counted in the overall unemployment figure. One way or the other they have dropped off the grid. The final part of the matrix is rebellion. That is a final rejection of socially acceptable means to achieve the socially acceptable goals.

That is where we are at: A state of transition in the social order due to economic inactivity. The questions now are:
  • How to respond?
  • What texture is that response?
  • How do we prove the value to the social goals and the social means to a population losing faith in both?

It is worth noting, from Heinlein's fictitious Lazarus Long, that one should, "never appeal to a man's 'better nature.' He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage"

President Obama: We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it.
Obama: From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument -– that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is that's what we did for eight years. (Applause.) That's what helped us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. We can't do it again.
Some on the Right? To hear the Republicans tell the story the deficits came from Carter, Clinton, and Obama. Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and King George the Usurper had nothing to do with it.

Here are but a few articles for your considerations on this issue:
Do we have to keep beating the dead horse? The GOP has been in control of the nation for 28 of the last 41 years. They have had the helm. One can lay the issues at the congressional door, but congress has been in the hands of the GOP from roughly 1995 to approximately 2007.

I will concede that a good Republican cannot acknowledge the point. They have faith in the ideals of their party. But the question becomes what are they? Are the Republicans and then Americans, or are they Americans and then Republicans? Which comes first? Baring that, where do their interest lie? Is it better for them to goose step in support of a party which has time and again failed the nation, or is it time to think past the rhetoric, look at what has been done, look at the raw data, and liberate the mind? The GOP is playing their constituents as fools.

President Obama: ... we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve.
While I appreciate the acknowledgment of fact from Obama, I am also very skeptical that there will be any change. Time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. With a few exceptions, the president cannot spend a dime without Congress. You state that the Republicans have held Congress from "roughly 1995 to approximately 2007". Out of the last how many years though? The same 41 year period you mention? So, about 1/4 of the time? I find that significant.

    Regarding your second article on job growth. At one point it discusses the reality of results lagging the implementation of policy. I find it interesting that when the author correctly notes that when lagging is appropriately accounted for it puts credit and blame where they are both due so for that reason "it makes sense" to look at it from a different perspective. How convenient.

    For the record, I personally do not subscribe to the ideas that none of the Republicans had a hand in either the deficit or the debt. I believe that both sides have contributed. Generally, the Republicans to a lesser degree than the Democrats but contributed nonetheless. However, when attempting to analyze root causes. Those policies that have been significant or laid a foundation then your statement is more or less correct.

    I am curious about your continued reference to "King George the Usurper". Is this a reference to the 2000 election when Algore and certain Florida officials attempted to thwart the election process by cheating and manipulating? Or are you refering to something else entirely?
    I'm just wondering because any objective analysis of those events and the subsequent SC ruling will reveal that, based on the rules of law at the time, the correct results were obtained.