Sunday, February 26, 2006
President Bush chooses not to see how things affect Americans who do not live in Washington. These Americans are the same people who have seen 3 million jobs lost since 2001, who have seen their standard of living decline and who have seen the Federal budget switch from surpluses to record high deficits. As one of those Americans I have a hard time understanding how this President can push tax cuts at the same time that he asks Congress to authorize more spending for the war in Iraq. The tax money coming in covers less and less of the bills we have to pay every month. I may not have a job in the White House but I understand that deficit spending, especially at levels this high hurts the economy.
Security is important but hundreds of billions of dollars have now been spent on the effort in Iraq while domestic spending for America has been cut. The point isn't that spending is just down, as everyone is aware, the bloated Federal busget needs to be cut. What I fail to understand is why we are willing to spend ourselves into poverty for the sake of Iraq when so much needs done here. There is still rebuilding to be done from Katrina. High school graduation rates in areas like Youngstown are at 64%. Murder rates in America remain the highest in the industrialized world with 16,137 people murdered in 2004. Finally, children here do go to bed hungry and they are growing up in conditions that are bad through no fault of their own. After all, when you sponsor a child through the Christian Children's Fund and you choose which country you would like your child to be from, USA is part of the drop down list.
These are issues that many American's wrestle with every day. Is their job being downsized? Is it being outsourced overseas? Here in the Mahoning Valley, Delphi workers are wondering how much of their pay they will have to give up just to keep the same job they had last year. These people do not have the sense of security that our elected officials seem to.
You see, we understand the idea behind the outsourcing. I've read books like Thomas Freidman's The World is Flat and I enjoyed it. The idea is that if we build up the middle class of other countries, those middle class citizens will want a say in their government and eventually will elect a democracy. In theory, democracies are stable. They don't threaten their neighbors and they keep the lunatics down to a manageable size. Therefore, America will be safer. Unfortunately, good manufacturing jobs are not being replaced with high tech, skill driven jobs at a rate fast enough to keep pace. Even if they were, retraining and education are still inadequate to provide the workers needed. This equation is not balanced. Conservatives like Bush want the open borders and global trade because it benefits them but they fail to see the responsibility they have to displaced workers and the workers of tomorrow. People can only buy goods if they have money and they can only earn money by working. Importing cheap goods now while most Americans still have decent jobs is nothing but short term profit taking. After all, folks working at McDonalds and Wal Mart aren't making mortgage and new car payments. However, folks working at GM & Ford can still afford to buy the products they make. If those jobs leave, who will buy the products being imported? Do the math.
It's these issues that reinforce the notion that the current government does not have the interests of the American people foremost in it's mind. Currently we have lobbyist scandals, the President backing the foreign ownership of U.S. ports and the upcoming loss of thousands of automotive industry jobs. None of that is good for us but this President and his supporters want us to ignore it.
Do you want to ignore it?
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Showing that when he thinks he is right he won't change his mind, President Bush today stubbornly vowed to veto any bill presented to him by Congress interfering with the transfer of management at six U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates government owned Dubai Ports World.
He stated, "It sends a terrible signal to friends around the world that it’s OK for a company from one country to manage the port, but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world”. Unfortunately, there is a difference and this President needs to be sensitive to it. The outcry that has arisen over this issue should make him aware that Americans are not comfortable with the idea of an Arab government managing ports in six major American cities.
The issue boils down to one of security and people need to have confidence that the companies managing these ports understand their concerns. It's okay to be a little paranoid about this subject. After all, two of the hijackers on September 11th were from the UAE. If the President doesn't understand people's reluctance to allow Dubai Ports World to manage a large part of the freight entering the country then he doesn't understand how vulnerable his security policies have left many of us feeling. There are weekly news specials telling us how vulnerable the ports are because there are not enough inspectors to examine even a small percentage of the freight entering the country each day. This looks very much like the Bush administration paying back a favor to one of their allies in the war on terror than a good business decision.
People are upset with this deal and it even looks like members of Congress are listening to the outrage. This is a bad deal for the U.S. and it should be rejected. If the President wants to stand his ground and pick a fight he should be prepared to lose.
You can let your Congressman know how you feel by clicking here.
Monday, February 20, 2006
The folks at Despair.com have their 2006 "Wishes"calendar out and you should buy it. It's easily the funniest thing to hang on your cubicle wall since Calvin & Hobbes stopped being published.
Their schtick? They take those boring inspirational photos the Human Resources department hangs in the break room and twist them inside out so you get messages like the one to the left.
Despair's products are funny, original and right on target when they satarize corporate culture.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Last Tuesday, protesters in London used the freedom of speech afforded them in England to protest the publication of Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed and, surprisingly, freedom of expression itself.
"I'm not really sure I understand it, myself," said London policeman Edgar Sternwell. "That bloke is upset about the newspaper publishing those cartoons of Mohammed so he's using the right of assembly to gather here at the Danish emabassy and protest. He's also using the freedom of speech to make up that rather crude sign. It's very peculiar."
Sternwell is referring to a protester's sign in the picture above. It reads "Freedom of Expression Go To Hell!!"
"You see," Sternwell continued, "it's puzzling to see someone exercise a right and use that right to protest that same right. It makes me think the lad may have had a few too many at the pub."
Similar signs have been seen during protests in other western nations. As embassies burn and western business are vandalized by crowds of protesters, one wonders if there isn't some irony in Muslims demanding the world be tolerant of their religion even as they express their frustration by burning down Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Pakistan.
"Tolerance from this lot?" Officer Sternwell asked as the protesters shouts grew louder. "They weren't this upset when planes were flying into buildings. Their sense of perspective about what is right and wrong may be a bit off."
As the protests continue, the only thing one can be sure of is that the protesters will prove to be more amusing than the original cartoons.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
In a surprise turn of events, Beirut based flag salesman Ibrahim Rajani found himself unable to service his normal clients this week.
"The crowds all want Danish flags now," he said in a recent interview. "No one is interested in the American flag this week. Who knew a couple of Danish cartoons would hurt my business so badly?"
Rajani is referring to the now infamous turmoil created by the printing of several cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Protests have popped up across the Middle East and several people have been killed in rioting.
"You have to understand," Rajani explained, "The American flag has been a very popular item to burn during protests for decades. Of course I keep the British Union Jack in reserve and a good supply of French flags but the Stars and Stripes has put food on my family's dinner table since the middle of the 1980's. Who would have ever thought the Danes would do something so offensive that their flag would become the hottest item in Lebanon, Egypt and Iran? It's crazy."
A recent boycott against Danish goods has made business even worse for Rajani. Several countries will no longer allow the importation of Danish goods which means he cannot bring in his hottest commodity right now.
"It's crazy," he said. "I could mark those flags up and get twice the price I do for American flags right now. People are crazy pissed about those cartoons. If they can't find a Danish flag, they'll burn down the whole emabassy. I can't believe the money I'm missing out on."
He sees light at the end of the tunnel, however.
"The furor over those cartoons will die down just as soon as President Bush gets another crazy idea that ticks off the entire world. Pretty soon I'll be right back on top of the game. You'll see. I'm stocking up on good old red, white and blue right now."