Thursday, November 17, 2011

It’s Getting Cold Out There (Here)

Those of us who live in northern climes are starting to feel it. The chill in the air, the extremely early sunset, even some flurries beginning to fall.

It’s getting cold out there.

But it’s getting cold in other ways, as well. Cities across the country are starting to crack down on the “Occupy Wall Street” protests that have sprung up all over the country – and, indeed the world. It’s also true that the Arab League has suspended the country of Syria from their ranks for their brutal, murderous response to protestors in that country. That is a “cold” that I welcome.

Here in the U.S. we are in the early phases of the 2012 presidential election. The Republicans are trying to decide whom they are going to nominate, and having a tough time doing so. First Perry was on top, then Cain, now Romney, and now Gingrich is gaining traction. The most popular Republican candidate? Anyone other than those who are running. Can’t we have Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels or Jeb Bush? Not this time around, it doesn’t seem.

The current occupant, Mr. Obama, who will be running for reelection, is not enjoying great approval numbers in the polls. The latest one I saw indicated that 46% of the electorate think he’s basically doing a good job. But, it is also instructive to look at polling that indicates that Mr. Obama would beat any of the leading Republican candidates if the election were held today. The only contest he loses is against a Republican who is not running, some dream candidate who has yet to emerge from the woodwork.

“Obamacare,” as my friends on the right like to call it, is heading to the Supreme Court, and we all knew that would happen. Fine. We’ve had two appellate court decisions that upheld it as Constitutional, and one that didn’t. It will be fascinating to see what the Supremes decide on the matter. Either way, our country is going to face a clear – and, I suspect, a stark – choice in a little less than a year.

Will we decide to elect someone who wants to cater to the 1% or the 99% (to borrow the parlance of the Occupy Movement protesters)? Certainly, the Republicans are not going to be able to argue that Mr. Obama is soft on national security – after all, he has presided over more drone attacks than Mr. Bush, found and killed Osama bin Laden (and many other Al Qaeda leaders), and helped orchestrate the removal of Gaddafi from power in Libya. Mr. Obama is also fulfilling the terms of the Iraq withdrawal, negotiated by the Bush administration, and removing our troops by the end of this year.

Here’s where we are: The economy is growing – slowly. Too slowly. Unemployment remains a problem, and a significant one, but it is VERY slowly becoming slightly less of a problem. The Obama administration is trying to enact what it can to ease the burden on the unemployed or underemployed, on those who are severely burdened by student loan debt, on those whose mortgages are underwater, and on veterans who will soon be returning, looking for both work and adequate health care. Are these programs perfect? No. Are they a good start? I think so.

Many of us are hurting in our country today. I’m among them. I am fortunate to have work, but it’s not enough to make ends meet. I am “floating rope” – borrowing money from a credit card for one month to the next – in order to try to keep up with bills. There’s only so long that this kind of behavior can go on, and yet I am convinced that the answer is not to lower the corporate tax rate or to keep the Bush tax cuts in effect. How is that going to help those of us who are struggling? I keep hearing about these so-called “job-creators.” Where are the jobs that they are creating?

It is long past time to eliminate loopholes that allow corporations to park money in tax havens (such as The Netherlands, Ireland, and the Cayman Islands) to avoid paying taxes on income. No one wants confiscatory taxes, we just want fair ones. If you, corporation X, have earnings of one hundred million dollars in a given quarter, then you should pay your fair share of taxes on one hundred million dollars. I pay taxes on every penny I earn. And, I don’t earn anywhere near that much per quarter, as I’m sure will not surprise any reader of this blog.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’ve written above. I’m not about “soaking the rich” and I’m not interested in engaging in class warfare. I’m interested in our country adopting a more fair and equitable tax system. I find it alarming that when I was a boy, the average CEO made about 40 times more than the average worker at his company. (I say only his, because, back then, there were no female CEOs) Today, the average CEO makes 350 times more than the average worker at his or her company. This is obscene. Call me kooky, but is a CEO of a company really worth 350 times more than the sales staff, the very people who are ensuring the success of the company? I don’t think so.

I’m afraid I’ve gotten a bit riled up. Must be because it’s cold outside, and I’m not quite ready for winter.

The good news: I’m working. My wife is working – although for the past couple days, she’s been working so much that I haven’t seen her at all; we’ve been like ships hoping to pass in the night, but having to settle with passing in the briefest of moments in the early morning hours when we are both resting and about to get up. We are both grateful. We both love this country. We both want this country to succeed and to live up to its fullest potential.

Election season is upon us. The cold us upon us – in more ways than one. Let us rise up and meet it with thought and foresight and compassion. Let us strive to be the best Americans we can be.


1 comment:

  1. Well said, Brian, as it usually is when you write your mind. I used to think of overt sexual references as "obscene", but I've changed my mind. Sex is natural, and even 'weird' sex, I suppose is natural. And, as I think of it, so is greed, but when egregious greed takes gives so much to the already rich at the expense of the poor and the middle class, that is true obscenity. Either something will change, drastically, or we will implode and become a type of third world country. My heart aches.