Lovely Rita

Like many Americans, I’m sure, I sat riveted this evening to the news of Hurricane Rita, another Category 4 weather event bearing 145 MPH winds and possible 20 foot storm surges, churning through the Gulf of Mexico, taking aim on the beleagured Gulf Coast.

Millions of people from Panama City, Florida to Brownsville, Texas beat a retreat from the possible death and destruction augured by yet another natural disaster-in-the-making.

As I watched live footage of hundreds of thousands of cars streaming north out of Houston and listened to reports of the Bush administration touting a newfound readiness for dealing with possible response issues in the wake of Rita’s landfall, it was all too clear to me the people in charge still lack fundamental skills for managing even an orderly evacuation with advance notice of possible chaos and devastation.

Helicopter footage of the daylight evacuation under clear skies and dry conditions showed vast numbers of cars jampacked in the northbound lanes of Interstate 45, while all four lanes of the nominally southbound lanes of the freeway stood virtually empty.

Fleeing Rita

“This is the worst planning I’ve ever seen,” said Judie Anderson, who covered just 45 miles in 12 hours after setting out from her home in the Houston suburb of LaPorte. “They say we’ve learned a lot from Hurricane Katrina. Well, you couldn’t prove it by me.”

Indeed.

A friend of mine with a background in the telecommunications industry put it well, saying, “This is just a switching issue.”

How could the best and brightest minds in the government –federal, state, local, you name it– not see that fully half of the resources at hand were being ignored, wasted, to the detriment of every single one of us?

300,00 troops at the ready? Water trucks and helicopters and extra band aids? We can’t even get out of our own way!

Look at us, and be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

#disaster#hurricane#planning#Rita

Comments

  1. Michael Herdegen - September 30, 2005 @ 6:19 pm

    “[T]he grand illusion of upward mobility” ?!

    Got any objective proof that the average worker is no longer upwardly mobile ?

    I’ll post some on Monday or Tuesday that’ll indicate that upward mobility is alive and well.
    In fact, since we’re ten years (or fewer) away from a labor SHORTAGE, things are looking VERY good for those expecting to be employed for another twenty years or more.

    I’d say that there’s a two-out-of-three chance that Bush’s successor will be drawn from this pool, and a one-out-of-two chance that Cheney’s successor will be from this pool:

    Bush
    Clinton
    Guliani
    McCain
    Rice
    Richardson
    Romney

    Of course, only two of the above are definitely running, and the rest have another year to decide if they want to run, and another two years before they have to decide if they REALLY want to run.

    My order of preference would be:

    Rice
    Clinton
    Guliani
    Romney
    Richardson
    McCain
    Bush

    In order of assessed electibility* in the GENERAL ELECTION:

    McCain
    Guliani
    Clinton
    Richardson
    Bush
    Romney
    Rice

    Kerry, Gore, Frist, Edwards, and Ridge have, IMO, no chance of winning the general election.

    *By me, of course.

  2. Michael Herdegen - September 30, 2005 @ 7:20 pm

    lonbud:

    The great jobs switch : (The Economist, Sep 29th 2005)

    “Manufacturing output continues to expand in most developed countries‚Äîin America, by almost 4% a year on average since 1991.
    Despite the rise in Chinese exports, America is still the world’s biggest manufacturer, producing about twice as much, measured by value, as China.
    The continued growth in manufacturing output shows that the fall in jobs has not been caused by mass substitution of Chinese goods for locally made ones.
    It has happened because rich-world companies have replaced workers with new technology to boost productivity and shifted production from labour-intensive products such as textiles to higher-tech, higher value-added, sectors such as pharmaceuticals.”

  3. lonbud - October 1, 2005 @ 8:30 am

    And fewer Americans manufacturing expensive drugs is better than more Americans making less expensive textiles exactly how? And for who?

    Your infatuation with statistics continues to grow tiresome, Michael, however, you do note an important fact: rich-world companies have replaced workers with new technology to boost productivity and shifted production from labour-intensive products such as textiles to higher-tech, higher value-added, sectors.

    The sad reality is that in the rich world, you either own the company or you’re f*cked.

  4. Michael Herdegen - October 1, 2005 @ 12:20 pm

    And fewer Americans manufacturing expensive drugs is better than more Americans making less expensive textiles exactly how?

    Are you kidding ?

    Your infatuation with statistics continues to grow tiresome, Michael…

    So, you’re willing to take my word for it ?

    You don’t seem to have much respect for my OPINION, either, so what DO you want ?
    What’s your alternative to facts and opinions ?

    But, I can certainly understand why you’d find statistics tiresome, since measured reality invariably contradicts your fantasies about it, such as below:

    [R]ich-world companies have replaced workers with new technology to boost productivity and shifted production from labour-intensive products such as textiles to higher-tech, higher value-added, sectors.

    The sad reality is that in the rich world, you either own the company or you’re f*cked.

    Really ?

    Even after “replacing workers with new technology to boost productivity and shifting production”, official unemployment in America is at 5%, with an absolute record 134 million people employed, and only 8 million people who are not employed, but would be willing to work, which includes the “discouraged” workers excluded from the official unemployment stats, and people who would only be willing to take a “perfect” job.

    Where in there do you find despair ?

    Also, the Boomers’ retirement over the next 25 years is going to cause massive labor shortages.
    Between 2010 and 2030, unemployment is likely to average less than 3%, and hit maybe 5% during recessions.

    I would provide a cite and link, but I don’t want to further weary you.

  5. Tam O’Tellico - October 1, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

    Wow, Michael, what an interesting slate of candidates!

    You first choice, Condi, has only the slimmest chance, and then only if the Iraq War somehow turns from debacle to democracy between now and 2008 — but don’t hold your breath on that one.

    I think Jeb will take a pass this time around — too much heat left over from big brother.

    Guliani can trade on 9-11 only for so long, and I suspect he will not be able to handle the questions or the rigors of the campaign trail.

    Mitt Romney is a smooth enough talker, but he strikes me as an empty suit though certainly far above say Dan Quayle. But who can even imagine a U.S. President named Mitt?

    I know nothing about Richardson, and I beleive you’re right that Frist and Ridge are no more than rumors. Frankly, I have a hard time imagining how Frist got through med school. His TV diagnosis in the Schiavo case killed him on the left and his waffling on stem cell killed him on the right.

    Which leaves the likely Republican candidate — John McCain. McCain lost a lot of credibility in my eyes for sucking up to W in spite of Rove’s low-life tactics in South Carolina, but based on what I know at this moment, I would likely vote for him.

    Unless the Democrats offered someone more palatable. But who?

    I confess to be being shhocked that Hilary is your second choice — she isn’t even on my list. Not that I don’t think she has what it takes — matter of fact, I think she is far smarter and a far more capable manager than her hubby. But she polls high-negative like Kerry and that will keep her from even being nominated methinks. I also believe she is so controversial her candidacy would exacerbate the great divide in America.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Kerry, Gore, Dean, Edwards and the usual suspects tested the waters, and any of them could sneak in. But frankly, Dean and Edwards do not have the gravitas or the experience to cut it (which I think is the problem with the present occupant of the White House).

    That leaves one dark horse candidate who is running just beneath the radar at the moment: Joe Biden. I’ve got my eye on him because I think he has the smarts, the warmth, the grit and the experience to pull it off.

    In my book, the McCain/Biden race would be interesting, and I would have to see how each handled the pressure-cooker and the spotlight in order to choose between them.

    My too soon to call prediction? McCain wins in 2008 in a close race with Mitt in the second chair. If Mac can pull it off and his health holds up, he’ll win again in 2012. Otherwise you’ll see Jeb next in line for the Republicans but most likely in 2016. His opponent in 2016? If he keeps his nose clean between now and then, Baraq OBama.

    What a great debate that would make! Jeb’s got the skills bib brother can only dream of, and we’ve already seen what Baraq can do in front of a camera. My prediction, if present demographic trends continue — and they will — Baraq could become our first black President. No, Mike, Clinton doesn’t qualify.

    Remember — you heard it hear first. Now, I just hope I live long enough to see it happen.

  6. Michael Herdegen - October 1, 2005 @ 6:02 pm

    I agree that Barack Obama may, someday, possibly, be seriously in the running for President, especially if he becomes Governor of Illinois within the next twenty years.

    If he stays in the U.S. Senate, and doesn’t demonstrate any administrative or executive experience, then it’ll be harder for him, should he ever run.
    U.S. Representative Harold Ford of Tennessee is also often mentioned as a possible future black President, and has the same problem – no executive experience yet.

    Guliani would find it difficult to win the GOP nomination, but would be a great President.
    He was a tough and effective prosecuter before becoming Mayor of NYC, and when Mayor, he worked effectively with the byzantine Gotham bureaucracy to cut city spending.
    He also turned around the accelerating crime problem in NYC by approving tough anti-gang measures, like profiling, and routinely searching suspected youths for illegal weapons. While charges against youths found in such a manner to be carrying illegal firearms were often thrown out, the guns stayed confiscated and off the streets, and it caused gangbangers to leave their guns at home, unless on a specific mission of mayhem.

    Biden would find it very tough indeed to get the Dem nomination.

    He’s been in the Senate for far, FAR too long, and he was forced to drop out of the ’88 Presidential hunt due to the flap over his repeated instances of plagiarism.
    In 1965 Biden plagiarized while writing a paper as a student at the Syracuse University Law School in a legal methods course, which he failed because of the copied paper. In 1987, Senator Biden plagiarized a speech originally given by then British Labor Party leader Neal Kinnock, when Biden gave a campaign stump speech at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

    Even if Biden DID become the Dem nominee, the GOP candidate would run rings around him, so IMO any Biden ’08 run would be only for vanity’s sake.

    Rice is anyone’s dream President, embodying everything good about America, but she probably isn’t even going to run, now or ever.
    I mention her only because others have, and I’d really, REALLY like it if she ran.

    Hillary is a longshot to win the general election, and does have high negatives, and would polarize the country, but as you point out, who else have the Dems got ?
    All of the high-profile Dem names are either one-time Presidential losers, or are people who could never, ever win a nationwide election.

    Thus, it’s Hillary, who has momentum, money, name recognition, and is connected like nobody else, or a currently little-known Dem Governor, who manages to break out of the pack.
    People like Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, or Virginia Governor Mark Warner.
    (I have no idea if any of the above are thinking of running, although Vilsack and Warner have been on VP short-lists).

    Some better-known Dem Governors are New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, which is why he’s on my list of possibles, or Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who cannot run for President, since she was born a Canadian citizen. That’s also why I didn’t mention Austrian-born California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, although he’d be an obvious candidate if he met the Constitutional requirements.

  7. Tam O’Tellico - October 2, 2005 @ 9:01 am

    Mike, you’re quite right in your analysis, and it is a sad commentary on Americia that out of 300 million people, we can’t find even one that we would willingly follow that is also electable.

    All of which leads me to suspect this is McCain’s time at long last.

    On another subjedt, in reference to my earlier crack about Zion-Cons, I refer you to the example of Lawrence Franklin, who it appears is ready to plead guilty in a case involving the transfer of military secrets to pro-Israel lobbyists. Ditto for the Pollards and a lot of others we will probably never learn about. When will they ever learn, religion and politics were separated at birth in this nation, and they ought to remain that way.

    Living where I do, I am incessantly reminded that people are simply unable to make a distinction between de jure and de facto when it comes to this being a “Christian nation”. Furthermore, they are unable to comprehend that a Founding Father could invoke God or Divine Providence without being a Christian. And they are in total denial about the fact that Jefferson excised all the miracles from his copy of the New Testament.

    It strikes me as even more ironic that they quote “all men are endowed by their Creator” without comprehending that this was a conception of a Supreme Being clearly borrowed from the Amerind, as was much of our form of government.

    Maybe Lenin was right after all that religion is the opiate of the masses. All I know is the “revival” in America seems to me a whole lot more like a revival of the Pharisees and the witch-burnings of Germany.

    Politics and religion — now I’ve gone too far.

  8. lonbud - October 2, 2005 @ 9:58 am

    Well, the thread has gotten a little bifurcated and Michael’s and my little tiff about statistics is proving a bit of a distraction IMO.

    Perhaps I’ll have to post a piece about the nature of work and employment in this golden age of free market capitalism, where we can pick it back up in earnest.

    For now let me leave it with this: the official government statistics on employment are about as connected to reality as the official rankings published by the World Wresting Federation.

  9. Michael Herdegen - October 2, 2005 @ 1:40 pm

    Maybe Lenin was right after all that religion is the opiate of the masses.

    He was right, but that insight didn’t lead him to two other obvious conclusions:

    Lenin had a religion himself – it just wasn’t one that deified a “Big Father in the Sky”, being more like the Shinto practice of ascribing divinity to the current Emperor.

    People need opiates, and not just religion. Life is harsh.
    Whenever a peoples have discovered a way to get inebriated, whether through fermented sugars or psychedelic mushrooms or other herbs, it’s become very popular.

    All cultures throughout history have practiced religion, in varied and inventive forms. Humans seek to perceive order and patterns, and nature is often random and chaotic, at least locally.
    Thus, if everything has a cause, it makes sense for there to be some invisible-to-humans and powerful being that’s responsible for causing seemingly random and often unjust events, and if that’s so, then there’s also the hope that such injustices are ultimately corrected, in an after-life.

  10. lonbud - October 3, 2005 @ 9:17 pm

    My, but that’s a bit of a different tack to be taking at this point in the journey. I’ll go with it, however.

    My experience leads me to conclude that, while people don’t need opiates, they can be very beneficial, and at certain times do come in right handy.

    Also, the cause of everything is everything. Everything each one of us thinks and says and does each and every day contributes to the causation of everything that happens.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Dubya caused Katrina and Rita! 😉

    But, and this is just my inelegant way of putting what I’ve come to understand in a relatively brief sojourn through this existence: the current state of affairs is merely the sum total of the energetic expression of every thought and act undertaken up to each moment in time. And every thought, and every act counts, infinitely.

    Thus, injustices, as Michael referred to them, are even susceptible to correction in this life, as well as in an after-life, or another life, if you will.

    However, and this is an important distinction, such correction is never passive. If anything is ever to be corrected, it only comes through active, volitional, often disciplined, meditative, dedicated, and purposeful thought and behavior.

    And the general consensus among those who believe this way is that it takes any given individual many thousands of lifetimes to understand the dynamic, and to to think, and act, accordingly.

  11. Paul Burke - October 4, 2005 @ 9:19 am

    “self made millionaire” your kidding right – your perfunctory attitude shows a ridiculous lack of experience in the real world

    These are not honorable people (Bush, Cheney)
    As I point out above, neither are you. (insult to change subject)

    So you agree they are not honorable men “neither are you” would imply a grouping of me with Bush and Cheney – how nice ‚Äì that says it all right there Michael you agree that they aren‚Äôt honorable men, and it is honorable men that belong in the seats of power in our country.

    Rather the opposite – his talent at management is why he‚Äôs a self-made millionaire, (that’s just hysterical and he paid his own way through Yale ) why he was elected four times to positions of high authority, why his White House is a well-oiled machine, (response to Katrina well oiled machine? ‚Äì yikes!) and why it‚Äôs as silent as a tomb when it comes to leaks. (like leaking CIA agent identities)

    Michael – he’s a figure head propped up by big energy and oil money he has been and always will be and overseen by Cheney who‚Äôs first act was to bring all his oil cronies in to write the energy policy

    W. is pathetic, blatant incompetence wrapped up in an overabundance of arrogance.

    More unsupported ad hominem, which is a neon admission of inability to refute Bush’s achievements, and an article of faith rather than fact.

    Ahh the old ad homonym hail Mary defense that since I didn’t list a litany of facts my observation must be incorrect – sorry Mike that observation is based on miles of footage and a lifetime of facts and experience by both the observer and the observed. (He’s the one who said he didn’t like to read – which is pathetic to begin with)

    The executive branch and the legislative branch are walking in lockstep (references to highschoolers knowing the three (allegedly) separate branches of government I hope are true (that‚Äôs not even a given in regards to the sorry state of our public schools) ‚Äì it‚Äôs experience that teaches you about the ‚Äúallegedly‚Äù part, and besides that‚Äôs another example of more disingenuous attempts to attack the other persons credibility (you‚Äôve learned from Karl quite well ) and a desperate attempt for an air of supremacy to try and bolster your position). As if executive policy, congressional action and the stock exchange are not all interrelated in how they respond to one another – poor fiscal policy driven by the president and enacted by his lockstep congress damaging the overall economy is not a myth. (Most highschoolers don’t know that and most college boys don’t either because they have no real world experience). Your boy W. is a fraud with Cheney pulling the strings and big oil running the show. Some of the subsidized big oil money should have gone into public education but that‚Äôs not where the power behind the throne is. Follow the money Michael that‚Äôs where the power is and that‚Äôs who‚Äôs calling the shots. Everything else is b.s.

    If you are okay with that and a lot of people are (the old what‚Äôs good for GM is what‚Äôs good for the country pitch ‚Äì but that has it‚Äôs limitations especially when absolute power corrupts absolutely ‚Äì there‚Äôs a lot of truth to the old sayings) so if you are okay with the dangerous pandering to the religious right and the potential erosion of Church and State and the historical facts of that necessity, and you are okay with big oil running the show, writing the legislation, directing the dollars, and our boys being killed in the mideast to protect their interest and further their gain, and the devastation of the environment that has been going on and is going on as we speak, and the crush on the economy of ever increasing oil prices (as they push to find out how high they can take it without finally loosing volume sales) ‚Äì and are okay with the total mismanagement of natural disasters such as Katrina, the corruption at the highest levels (CIA leaks for political gain, blatantly lying to the American public about WMDs, lying to the UN, going on month long vacations in spite of the warnings about 9/11 (that in itself is the definition of mismanagement and arrogance), and now Tom Delay who you rip but has been the chief arm twister and enforcer of the Bush/Cheney agenda) if you are okay with all of that then support your man. But be honest and call it for what it is don’t make excuses. It is what it is and some of us are not okay with that and consider those issues paramount to disaster and a dereliction of duty, a severe conflict of interest and a shameful disgrace to the American people, country, constitution and bill of rights that is held sacred by a large segment of this population and citizenry.

    You’re smart and probably a good guy but just because you say you have seen the light doesn’t mean you haven’t been sold – take that as the kind rebuff it is written as and a word of caution to reevaluate before you relinquish your independent thinking completely, and no capital expenditures that do not bring a long term return are not good for the economy they are a short term waste of tax payer capital and a quick padding to an insiders bank account. The tax payers deserve better representation than they are getting from this administration. This administration is only looking after those that put it in power. That’s a fact, that’s politics, but it doesn’t make it right.
    Read Bush’s resume on line at http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/03/04/23_resume.html
    (self made millionaire that’s great Michael – what are the Bush’s like fifth generation rich – that’s beautiful Mike LOL) – later dude

  12. Tam O’Tellico - October 4, 2005 @ 10:10 am

    Well, if we’re going to talk Coolidge Conservatism, apparently, Bush’s economic policies are not too good for General Motors either. Or maybe Michael Moore had it right to begin with in Roger and me. Either way, it’s not too good for Conservatives.

    And while I agree with Michael’s implication that a little religion, like a little rationalization, is necessary to get us through the day, it is quite another matter when either blinds us to the realities of life. To wit, if Intelligent Design were a workable theory, shouldn’t we see some sign of intelligence in the White House? I mean something besides frat boy, dirty-tricks political pranks effective with a half-witted populace?

    Yes, Karl and Krew know how to win or steal an election, but they don’t know to rule a country. The bottom line is that the Bush White House is like a dog chasing a car — what the hell you gonna do once you catch it?

  13. Tam O’Tellico - October 4, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

    So, Michael, if I understand you correctly, we are now supposed to be happy about trading the manufacture of automobiles for the manufacture of unneccessary, over-priced pharmaceuticals? Please, whatever your argument, stay away from that example of corporate misconduct and wretched excess.

    Can any corporate apologist explain to me why pharmaceutical companies are permitted to advertise products on TV that you cannot buy without a presecription? If these products are so wonderful and effective, wouldn’t doctors be recommending them to patients without the need of billions in advertising? Particularly since doctors are wined, dined and bribed by Phat Pharm to do so?

    For one miserable example, look at the “Heartburn Epidemic” and the hope offered by the “little purple pill”. This campaign seems to say “Don’t worry, take our pill, and you can still eat like a pig and gorge yourself on foods that aren’t good for you. Hey, how ’bout you instead you push your ass away from the table, Porkie?

    Fact is, the Clinton administration through the FDA under David Kessler did it’s best to reign in Big Tobacco. Now the Bush administration with its co-opting of the FDA has created the new Big Tobacco — Phat Pharm and the Prescription Pillagers.

    Opiate of the masses, indeed.

  14. Michael Herdegen - October 4, 2005 @ 7:28 pm

    America manufactures as many automobiles per-capita as we ever did – but now most auto manufacturing isn’t done in Detroit, and a big chunk of it is for foreign manufacturers.

    AM General Corp., BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota are all currently making vehicles in the U.S.

  15. Paul Burke - October 5, 2005 @ 10:28 am

    Check this out from a random posting on my web site

    “It’s your fault as much as it is W’s.” That’s almost as good as Michael saying W. is a self made millionaire. LOL

    By the way you can get gas for $2.15 a gallon across the border in Mexico. In case any of you San Diego folks want to scurry across the border.

    As far as new refineries go – there are two arguments –
    One – those gosh darn environmentalist stopped our poor little corporation from building refineries all over the world because they are so big and powerful and we can hardly stand up to them in Congress. They get their way all of the time. Those darned citizen groups are too big a match for our poor under funded lobbyist.

    Two Рmarket manipulations to limit output to drive the price up as in the rolling blackouts in California back in Enron’s hey day.

    Obviously it’s all the environmentalists fault since they are behind the power of the throne in that “well oiled” White House.

    Now the push – spin- will be to roll back environmental laws and more tax dollar give aways to the oil companies to build more refineries – since everyone agrees that is what the problem is – so whose making money on this deal – big oil of course and the tax payers get raped. If you want cheaper gasoline the oil companies now get to pollute your air, water and food chain like the good old days. It’s not a done deal yet but that’s the next push – spin. The powerful get richer and the tax payers get screwed and the politicians suck up to the powerful to keep their jobs – this is not a big mystery here – just life – it doesn’t make it right.

    We need a government of the people by the people for the people who will stand up to big oil and say – okay boys record profits – you’ve had your fun – it’s time to be responsible corporate citizens again. You see we have gotten away from the Jeffersonian idea of citizenry. We have run this string of rugged individualism out beyond to the point where it’s now hurting the country. Corporate America should be mindful of the Country in which they do business, and it‚Äôs health and well being. In other words corporate profit is great until it damages the health of the citizens and runs up health care costs, pollutes the rivers and bankrupts the small fisherman and oyster harvesters and all the small business they support up and down our water ways ‚Äì including tourist dollars. Big picture ‚Äì we need to look at the big picture and the inter connectedness of our environmental and financial system. If we change all the rules to just benefit the big players on the block we‚Äôll end up in that Orwellian universe before we know it. Not taking into account the intricate balance of nature in our pursuit of profit is short sighted. And since we are linked completely into the environmental grid through the air we breathe and food we eat – I don’t think we should put profit ahead of the environment. Besides all these born again republicans should be cherishing god‚Äôs creation (the earth and all that is in it) instead of loosening environmental laws to feed their campaign war chests. It‚Äôs quite disappointing that they apparently just use religion to gain power politically and personally. Otherwise they would hold God’s creation sacred and do what they could to protect it. I’m sorry the dismantling of the environmental laws and the pandering to religious born agains is just hypocrisy and pure evil. The Earth first it’s what really sustains use before any economic systems ever evolved. Earth first it’s where all the natural resources come from that are used for profit in the market. It‚Äôs the Earth first and then the national defense of our country and then profit for industry. Any other order and we have misplaced priorities that can not succeed in the long term. Hey I own stock but I don’t want all the oyster beds in the gulf to be so tainted we can’t harvest them. Besides how big is too big and we put all the fishermen out of business because Exxon Mobil doesn’t want to cut into their profit margins because of some economic theory as outdated as Lenin says to maximize profit at any and all costs. Baloney our health and the health of the planet is too high a price to pay so some CEO can ratchet up his statistics, pay and clout. A healthy environment for both the environment and business can be balanced rationally. But as long as we are playing the win at all cost let‚Äôs see how much we can get away with game we are bound to just be shooting ourselves in the foot. What’s fair, balanced or even conservative about ignoring the economic impact of pollution? It’s pretty radical and very liberal not to hold the oil companies accountable and to demand that they work in harmony within the environmental frame work that is our reality. We let them just degrade the environment because they are a business. What’s the rational? Huge corporate profits – huge CEO salaries. The one excuse they always lean on is jobs ‚Äì the ultimate scare tactic. Well no one is asking them to go out of business just to be responsible corporate citizens in the true Jeffersonian idea. It would help if we all became good citizens, emphasized that in schools and cared less about each others personal beliefs, personal predilections and private lives. Why do we even talk about abortion as if everyone is supposed to believe in the same religion? We have freedom of choice in this country how does that not extend to women and their right to govern their own affairs in whether to start a family or not? We have lost our focus.

  16. lonbud - October 5, 2005 @ 12:46 pm

    Shooting ourselves in the foot? I’d say it’s more akin to shooting ourselves in the head.

  17. Tam O’Tellico - October 5, 2005 @ 6:24 pm

    For anyone who has a strong stomach, take a close look at Disney and the Michael Ovitz fiasco. I’ll spare you the details here, but the only fitting description is that it was an 85 million dollar obscenity financed by gouging children and parents on overpriced admissions and hamburgers at Plastic World.

    Even if one argues that such episodes as Eisner/Ovitz, Enron, Tyco, Worldcom and on and on and on are mere aberrations that don’t affect America’s overall corporate bottom line — and I certainly wouldn’t make that argument — at the very least, they’re symbolic of the utter disregard corporate America has for morality. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if you want to see the real corporate America, take a look at Big Tobacco and it’s inbred offspring Phat Pharmaceuticals.

    And if you want to learn how it came to this, I recommend a book called In Search of Excess by Graef Crystal. This former consultant provides the inside skinny on corporate compensation in America. If Adam Smith were alive today, he’d be screaming louder than Lou Dobbs.

    Keep watching, Pilgrims, and hold your wallet and your breath and get ready to be reborn into the Third World accompanied by a giant sucking sound.

  18. Michael Herdegen - October 5, 2005 @ 7:33 pm

    {I]t was an 85 million dollar obscenity financed by gouging children and parents on overpriced admissions and hamburgers at Plastic World.

    How could it be “gouging” if the parents willingly, even eagerly, paid for a non-necessity ?

    Disney’s products – movies, theme parks, and television shows – aren’t exactly in the same category as food or gasoline.

    However, I agree that Disney’s shareholders got ripped off.

    Even if one argues that such episodes as Eisner/Ovitz, Enron, Tyco, Worldcom and on and on and on are mere aberrations that don’t affect America’s overall corporate bottom line — and I certainly wouldn’t make that argument — at the very least, they’re symbolic of the utter disregard corporate America has for morality.

    There is no “corporate America”, there are only PEOPLE who work for large companies, and some of them are weak or corrupt, just like clerks at 7-11.
    The difference is that the people that you’re speaking of had access to large sums of money, when they made their move.

    Disney, Enron, Tyco, and Worldcom are or were all PUBLIC COMPANIES. Just as ultimately the public is to blame for lousy politicians in a democracy, so too must the blame fall on the shareholders of those companies.

    The shareholders always had the power to replace or rein in Eisner, Lay, Kozlowski, and Ebbers – they just didn’t care to take the time to properly oversee their employees.
    The partial exception was Disney, where eventually the shareholders DID get fed up with Eisner.

  19. lonbud - October 5, 2005 @ 8:02 pm

    That’s quite a quaint understanding of corporations you’ve got there, Michael.

    Shareholders, as the term is commonly understood, actually have little to no power over a corporation’s officers and directors, though, even if they did, those who might be of a mind to exercise oversight or ask uncomfortable questions of the Lays, Ebbers’, and Koslowskis of the world are literally discouraged and obstructed at every turn by the byzantine protocols most public companies of any size or import put in place with repect to the requirements that they make their books and operations available for inspection by shareholders.

    The actual shareholders are institutional interests in their own right, major Wall Street brokerage houses, pension funds, hedge funds, money managers, and other corporate financial entities, who gladly lap up whatever they are spoon fed by a company’s management — as long as the next quarter’s dividend looks likely to be made and Wall Street analysts’ quarterly predictions can be beat by a penny.

    Those of you who can identify the similarities with the present operation of most of our state and federal governments and the equally symbiotic relationship they have with their purported media “watchdogs” qualify for extra credit and a frosty cocktail on the house next time you are in San Francisco.

  20. Michael Herdegen - October 5, 2005 @ 11:59 pm

    Shareholders, en masse, have all of the power. They OWN the company.

    While you are correct that institutional holders rarely bestir themselves, when they do, changes happen.

    Perhaps you mean that individual shareholders, like single voters, have little power.

    This is true.
    However, individual shareholders have a great advantage over individual citizens: They can easily opt out.

    If anyone doesn’t like the management at GM, for instance, (and what’s to like ?), just don’t buy the stock.
    If enough people make that choice, that too causes changes at the tops of corporations.

    So, if a person owned Disney stock, and couldn’t convince enough fellow shareholders to go along in changing the board of directors, the simple cure is to just sell the stock, and forget about it.

  21. Tam O’Tellico - October 6, 2005 @ 7:45 am

    Michael, your argument is as always right out of the Capitalism 101. That makes it hard to argue with logically. But as a practical matter, it is far too simplistic.

    The point I’ve been trying to make in my posts here — and I’ll admit it’s the same argument Lou Dobbs and many other true Conservatives are making — is that we can no longer afford the archaic notion that corporations should be judged only by their bottom lines. We can’t sit idly by and let the law of the jungle take its course in economics any more than we can in other aspects of society. Simply put, there is more to be considered here than profits.

    That’s not just my judgement; it’s the judgement of most civilized nations, which is why most pursue all kinds of goveremental solutions in areas that affect society as a whole. A shining example: twenty years ago, Japan began to wire their entire nation with fiber optic cable. Our solution: let everybody and his brother compete and end up with a hodge-podge of incompatible systems and a forest of ugly-ass towers on top of ever tall hill in America.

    The point is, there is a place for intelligent, far-sighted government — the problem is finding intelligent, far-sighted governors. Unfortunately, our system of sloganeering, dirty tricks, vote-buying, discrimination and outright corrution in vote-counting (see Florida 2000 and Ohio in 2004) reults in the something far less than intelligent and far-sighted government. Whether Republican or Democrat, government has devolved to the point that it has become merely whose turn it is at the trough. Washington has become Porky’s Place.

  22. lonbud - October 6, 2005 @ 7:47 am

    All well and good and even accurate, as far as it goes, Michael — but your whole approach to this topic is facile at best.

    America suffers mightily today, and our prospects grow ever dimmer, under systemic favoritism to corporate interests against those of individual citizens and, most glaringly and damaging, to the environment.

    It’s simply not enough to say, “if you don’t like it, don’t buy stock.” It is the rare individual corporate malfeasant such as Ebbers or Koslowski, who is ever brought to answer charges, make any kind of restitution, or spend any time in prison for their crimes against society.

    What is needed is a wholesale reigning in of corporate power and standing in the ordering of our affairs; corporations are not persons and should not be treated as such in the eyes of the law. Corporations do not have an inalienable right to make profits; they are a fictional convenience created to give some men advantage over other men and until that reality is recognized and rectified, this country and this society will remain on its long, gilded slide toward no good end.

  23. Tam O’Tellico - October 6, 2005 @ 4:02 pm

    Ionbud,

    “a long gilded slide toward no good end”

    I love the line, but the fact is that while it may be a gilded slide on one end, most of us are getting the shitty end of the stick. Senator Tom Harkin, a good and decent man and thus doomed to failure in his bid for the Presidency, once explained Trickle-Down Economics in a way any country boy could understand:

    “When I was a boy on the farm, we had a herd of cows we fed expensive feed. The birds used to follow behind them and take advantage of the Trickle Down Theory.”

    These days, we don’t even have the Trickle Down Theory, we have the Trickled On Theory, which is the 21st Century version of what W’s daddy correctly called “voodoo economics”. It’s what I call “don’t tax and spend Conservatism”. At some point, the populace is going to have to wake up and realize that the deficit is going up while social services are going down. And this time around, the Republicans won’t be able to blame the Democrats for profligacy.

  24. Michael Herdegen - October 6, 2005 @ 5:28 pm

    Tam O’Tellico:

    Japan may not be the best example to contrast against America, since their orderly, overly-controlled economy is just now emerging from a FIFTEEN YEAR LONG recession, seven years longer than America’s Great Depression.
    America’s habit of hodge-podge growth and competition may not be elegant, but it DOES result in enormous flexibility and resourcefulness.

    Unfortunately, our system of sloganeering, dirty tricks, vote-buying, discrimination and outright corrution…
    …government has devolved…

    You ARE aware that it was always thus, right ?
    Read accounts of 18th and 19th century political campaigns – post WW II campaigns are pretty tame by comparison, even with JFK buying the Presidency and Florida’s possible fixing in ’00.

    [O]utright corrution in vote-counting (see Florida 2000 and Ohio in 2004)…

    I see that you have more knowledge of the actual vote totals, and more desire for the Presidency than the actual candidate, John Kerry, and also more than the DNC.

    Or, is it possible that John Kerry and the Democratic Party actually DO know more about this stuff than you do, and THAT is why they gave up and never contested the election results ?

    lonbud:

    It’s simply not enough to say, “if you don’t like it, don’t buy stock.”

    I didn’t say that.

    I said “don’t buy stock in companies that don’t meet your governance standards”.
    There are plenty of good, well-run companies out there.

    Of course, that would require investors to do some research, so I don’t expect many to actually take that advice.
    And by “research”, I mean “reading”, not visiting the companies’ facilities or interviewing the executives.

    [Corporations] are a fictional convenience created to give some men advantage over other men…

    No they aren’t.

    A corporation is merely a device to encourage investment and risk-taking, by limiting losses to corporate assets.
    Investing in a corporation allows people to gamble on new ideas, without being personally responsible for any losses. All that can be lost is the amount invested in the company.

    The rise of England and America is partially due to the corporate structure being available, just as the triumph of the Christian world over the Muslim world was due in part to Christians deciding that it was OK after all to charge interest on loans.

    Both promote the availability of capital, and accelerate economic growth.

    It is the rare individual corporate malfeasant such as Ebbers or Koslowski, who is ever brought to answer charges, make any kind of restitution, or spend any time in prison for their crimes against society.

    If that is enough to condemn all of corporate America, then all organized labor is likewise guilty of corruption.

    So, if both management AND labor cannot be trusted to run America, do you espouse leaving it up to capital – the bankers ?

    America suffers mightily today, and our prospects grow ever dimmer…
    …this country and this society will remain on its long, gilded slide toward no good end.

    Would you like to make some concrete projections, with detailed predictions ?

    I am willing to say for the record that on July 15th, 2015:

    America will still have the largest economy on Earth, in absolute terms, and that per-capita, no nation with over 150 million citizens will have a higher standard of living.

    The U.S. dollar will still be the world’s reserve currency.

    The Euro will be worth LESS than the U.S. dollar.

    The American military will still be the most powerful on Earth, by far.

    I am also willing to make some predictions for 2025 or 2050, but the advantage of 2015 is that there is some chance that we will still be in contact in ten years, and can check our predictions against the reality of 2015.

  25. Michael Herdegen - October 6, 2005 @ 5:37 pm

    [T]he deficit is going up while social services are going down.

    That will continue to be true while the Boomers are retired.

    There is NO CHANCE that the Federal budget deficit will shrink much until 2040 or so, at which point most of the Boomers will have died.

  26. lonbud - October 6, 2005 @ 8:02 pm

    Thanks for the primer on the theory of corporations, Michael.

    I’ll agree with you there are well-run corporations, some that are both good corporate citizens and conscientious public actors. And I’ll agree that extensive due-diligence and research beyond the capabilities of the vast majority of people are required to unearth them from the festering shitpile of horrible ones among the tens of thousands listed on the NYSE and the NASDAQ.

    The problem lies not in the existence of corporations per se, but in the lack of oversight and enforcement of a whole host of laws on the books designed to prevent corporations from profiting at the expense of consumers and the environment.

    Even if every one of your predictions proves true in ten years, alone they say nothing about the quality of life one can expect under such a statistical matrix. I’ll give you every single one of them and predict, for my part (absent significant changes in our policies of taxation, social spending, foreign policy, environmental husbandry, and fiscal responsibility) in ten years America’s:

    Infant mortality will be worse than it is today in absolute terms and our rank among nations will be lower;

    Number of citizens per capita living in poverty will be greater than it is today and our rank among nations will be lower;

    Air and water will be measurably more polluted than it is today and our rank among nations will be lower;

    Number of citizens per capita suffering from cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and mental illness will be greater than it is today and our rank among nations will be lower.

    I appreciate your optimism that we could remain in contact in ten years, but let me say that if I’m proved correct in my predictions, I won’t be going to Disneyland.

  27. Michael Herdegen - October 6, 2005 @ 11:35 pm

    [E]xtensive due-diligence and research beyond the capabilities of the vast majority of people are required to unearth them […] among the tens of thousands listed on the NYSE and the NASDAQ.

    Not at all.

    There are hundreds of sources that can be easily accessed that do exactly that kind of due diligence.

    If anyone wanted to find corporations that had universally acclaimed management, it would only take maybe twenty hours to read enough to be sure.
    The ‘net is a BIG help here.

    As to your predictions, excellent !

    We have a great contrast, since I am firmly convinced that you will be proven wrong on three counts.

    The prediction that the [n]umber of citizens per capita suffering from cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and mental illness will be greater than it is today may prove to be correct, but I expect that it will be due to a greater ability to detect such illnesses earlier.

    If per capita illness rises, but mortality from such diseases decreases, then I will consider the thrust of your prediction to have been incorrect.

    Also, the last guess, plus all of the points about the U.S.’ rank vs. other nations, will have to be adjusted for differences between nations, societies, and demographics.

    For instance, the per capita incidence of cancer will certainly rise for decades, since the average age of Americans will continue to rise until the Boomers begin to die off.
    However, since it’s natural and normal for there to be more incidents of illness among older people, that won’t tell us much.
    Once we’ve broken down incidence of illness among age groups, and compared THOSE figures to the current numbers, then we’ll see what there is to see.

  28. Tam O’Tellico - October 7, 2005 @ 10:34 am

    Michael, if everything you say about the stark reality caused by the aging Boomers is true, shouldn’t a responsible federal government be aware of these facts, too? And shouldn’t that government be doing something in response other than cutting taxes for the wealthiest citizens? And shouldn’t that government be trying to promote a real solution instead of trying to duck a promise made to the Boomers by previous generations which also financed that promise? Well, if the boys in Washington are too ignorant or indifferent to offer a serious solution beyond enriching Wall Street, here’s mine:

    1. No income limit on FICA and Medicare deductions; if you’re make half a million a year, you should gratefully give back to the country that has created a system that allows you to make that kind of money, and you should gratefully contribute to the safety net of those whose labor makes that system possible — should they live long enough to collect, which if they are a black male in America, statistically they won’t — talk about your unfair taxation!

    2. Adpot a needs test to receive Social Security benefits. Social Security is not a retirement program, if you can afford to invest in Keoghs or IRAs and the like, count yourself wise but most of all fortunate — most U.S. workers can’t. That’s why Social Security was invented — as a safety net of meager benefits for those who would otherwise be living a Dickensian existence in their old age.

    3. Sorry, poor folks, but you’re going to have to give a little, too. The retirement age for SSS benefits is now going up to 70.

    This is a simple plan that would likely get us past the Boomer Bubble and wouldn’t require creating a whole new system. But in order for it to work, it would require mutual sacrifice — therefore, it hasn’t got a prayer with this administration.

  29. Michael Herdegen - October 9, 2005 @ 12:09 am

    [I]f you can afford to invest in Keoghs or IRAs and the like, count yourself wise but most of all fortunate — most U.S. workers can’t.

    Rather, they CAN, but they DON’T, which is the primary problem.
    80% of American workers could afford to put away several thousand dollars a year for retirement, but somehow the big screen TV and a better car are always higher on the list.

    Sorry, poor folks, but you’re going to have to give a little, too. The retirement age for SS benefits is now going up to 70.

    That might do the trick in and of itself, and the SSA has implemented just such a change – but it doesn’t apply to most of the Boomers.
    It’s mostly GenX and beyond who have to wait until 67 or later to retire.

    This is a simple plan that would likely get us past the Boomer Bubble and wouldn’t require creating a whole new system. But in order for it to work, it would require mutual sacrifice — therefore, it hasn’t got a prayer with this administration.

    It’s not the administration that would block such reforms, it’s THE VOTERS THEMSELVES.
    Why do you think that SS reform is called “the third rail of politics”, and has been for decades ?

  30. lonbud - October 9, 2005 @ 1:09 pm

    Michael: Why do you think that SS reform is called “the third rail of politics”, and has been for decades ?

    Because reform is the government code-word for dismantle and eliminate.

  31. Tam O’Tellico - October 10, 2005 @ 6:26 am

    Michael, I am so sorry you can’t see that the not-so-hidden agenda of this administration and the DeLay crowd is to dismantle all social welfare (except for corporations) and return ordinary citizens to the Hobbesian jungle. Such Libertarian nonsense is not worthy of someone with your mind.

    As for your statement that “80% of American workers could afford to put away several thousand dollars a year for retirement”, it is preposterous and is a perfect example of why Republicans “just don’t get it” when it comes to the poor. And even if your absurd assertion were true, how many of that 80% do you seriously propose have either the time or the education to make sure their money is invested wisely?

    And that, my friend, is what Social Security is all about — a safety net for those least able to fend for themselves economically. Unfortunately, that has gotten lost by both parties in the interest of appeasing the electorate. On the other hand, you can’t expect the middle class to agree to the hole in the doughnut while rich folks gorge themselves at the trough.

    I know nothing of your background, but let’s assume for the sake of your argument that you were born poor and worked your way out of poverty all by yourself — a self-made man like Clarence Thomas thinks he is. Well, let me assure you, most poor folks don’t have your obvious intellectual gifts. While examples like you and Clarence are wonderful models to hold up to encourage others, the reality of the working poor is all too obvious in the wake of Katrina.

    Bootstrap Republicans — and Democrats — should remember this: You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have any boots.

  32. Michael Herdegen - October 10, 2005 @ 10:39 pm

    lonbud:

    Because reform is the government code-word for dismantle and eliminate.

    You will no doubt be shocked to learn that SS has been reformed at least THREE TIMES in decades past – but never eliminated.
    You’ve just never bothered to fact-check your assumptions.

    Likewise, U.S. foreign and domestic intelligence agencies have been reformed at least twice, the War Department has been reformed, the Dept. of Education has been reformed…
    But none were eliminated.

    Tam O’Tellico:

    Michael, I am so sorry you can’t see that the not-so-hidden agenda of this administration and the DeLay crowd is to dismantle all social welfare (except for corporations) and return ordinary citizens to the Hobbesian jungle. Such Libertarian nonsense is not worthy of someone with your mind.

    Nor is such delusional conspiracy claptrap worthy of your intellect.
    Do you also believe in astrology and numerology ?

    Please name three examples of where you believe the “DeLay crowd” has attempted to “return [us] to the Hobbesian jungle”.
    Or even ONE.

    Fair warning: If you intend to mention the bankruptcy reform act, be prepared to explain why the poor and many middle class families are still eligible for unrestricted bankruptcy protection.

    As for your statement that ‚Äú80% of American workers could afford to put away several thousand dollars a year for retirement‚Äù, it is preposterous and is a perfect example of why Republicans ‚Äújust don‚Äôt get it‚Äù when it comes to the poor. And even if your absurd assertion were true…

    Yes, it’s true, even if you find it “absurd”.

    Are you contending that OVER 20% of American workers are poor ?
    That is the logical outcome of your statement…

    Also, like lonbud, you’ve obviously never bothered to fact-check your assumptions.
    When you are willing to declare that it’s preposterous to expect American workers to be able to save for retirement, you expose a certain weakness in knowledge about the American economy, and the workers therein.

    Here’s a great place to start:

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a section of the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

    For instance, if the average American worker can’t save for retirement, then why do 70% of all American households own their own home ?
    Shouldn’t we expect that most workers could only afford to rent ?
    Further, why are FEWER people living in each household ?
    If the average American worker is just barely getting by, shouldn’t we see multiple families in each dwelling, or at least a lot of room-mate situations ?

    Instead, between 1970 – 2000, the average square footage of a new house increased from 1,500 to 2,266, and the number of people per household decreased from 3.14 to 2.62.*
    So, we can say with confidence that the middle class is choosing to spend money on obtaining more square feet of living space per person – why should we NOT say that such money would be better spent on saving for retirement ?

    Also, the number of people filing Federal income tax forms who owed NO Federal income taxes, meaning that they received a full refund of all withheld Federal taxes, including those who received refundable tax credits that made their Federal income tax rate NEGATIVE, increased between 2000 – 2004 from 30 million, or 23% of all filers, to 44 million, or 33% of all filers – an increase of nearly 50%.**

    Since in 2000 there were 14 million households paying some Federal taxes that four years later were paying NONE, isn’t it reasonable to assume that these households COULD use the monies that they had been used to doing without, to fund retirement accounts ?
    Since these households tend strongly to be headed by young workers, even a few hundred dollars a year in a tax-free retirement account would add up to many tens of thousands of dollars by the time the workers retired, four decades later.
    If the worker only contributed a paltry $ 200/yr, they would have $ 68,000 in their account in 40 years.

    Will you now assert that most people can’t afford to put away $ 200/yr ?

    In fact, most can afford to put away the thousands that I specified.

    In 2003, the median household income for the U.S. was $ 43,318, with those households in the Northeast region having a mean of nearly $ 47,000, and those in the South at $ 40,000.*
    However, the difference in income doesn’t necessarily indicate a difference in lifestyle, since the Southern region of the U.S. also has, by far, the lowest cost of living.

    Additionally, in 2003 there were 7.6 million households, containing at least one child, that earned less than $18,810.*
    Although clearly there is a limited overlap between households in poverty and workers, for the sake of argument, let us assume that every one of those households included an employed person.

    In 2003, the total civilian labor force numbered 148 million, of which 138 million were employed.***
    If we add the 10 million people not working, (which includes the officially unemployed, plus everyone who is willing to work under certain circumstances, but isn’t actively looking for work), and a supposed 7.6 million working poor, we get 12% of the labor force being unemployed, or in poverty.

    Thus, it’s clear that 80% or more of American workers could indeed save money for retirement. They just don’t.

    WON’T is not the same as CAN’T, and our public policies should not be determined by the least responsible among us.

    While examples like you and Clarence are wonderful models to hold up to encourage others, the reality of the working poor is all too obvious in the wake of Katrina.

    First, thanks.

    Second, that’s why we have welfare, medicaid, food stamps, and subsidized housing, plus housing vouchers.
    If people end up being poor and elderly, we have systems in place to help them survive.

    IMO, it’s extremely condescending to assume that only the elite can successfully plan for retirement.
    So far, middle America seems to be doing alright. There are over one million U.S. households with a net worth of one million dollars or more, and over 50% of American workers own stock, mostly in 401(k)s.

    Also, since over 90% of the residents of N.O. managed to make it to safety, I’m not sure why you believe that Katrina proved that the average American was helpless.

    lonbud, feel free to ignore the above statistics, and simply take my word about these simple truths:

    The overwhelming majority of American workers live comfortable lives, with (over)abundant luxuries, and the fact that they aren’t saving a grip of money has more to do with consumer culture brainwashing than it has to do with a lack of resources or poverty.

    * US Census Bureau.
    ** Scott A. Hodge & J. Scott Moody. “The Growing Class of Americans Who Pay No Federal Income Taxes.” Fiscal Facts. Tax Foundation. April 14, 2004.
    *** Dept. of Labor BLS

  33. lonbud - October 10, 2005 @ 11:23 pm

    Michael, I don’t disagree with you, even a little bit, that Americans are generally a wasteful, consumptive, shortsighted lot, and that this country provides a wealth of opprtunity and luxury and security to anyone with the gumption and the guile to sieze them.

    That doesn’t excuse the graft and abuse of power exercised by government for the benefit of the most wealthy and well connected. It doesn’t excuse the abandonment of regulation and enforcement of health, safety, and welfare principles upon which those opportunities, luxury and security were established, nor does it excuse the dissipation of our natural resources or the abandonment of our environment to the exigencies of the free market.

    Just because it has been ever thus does not make it right. We can, and should do better — by our selves, and by the world.

  34. Michael Herdegen - October 11, 2005 @ 3:54 pm

    Just because it has been ever thus does not make it right. We can, and should do better — by our selves, and by the world.

    I agree completely – and that is part of the problem.

    We are both idealists who would like to see human nature change a bit, and for the masses to put a little more thought into the indirect consequences of their everyday actions.

    However, our views of the world are so fundamentally different that many of our “betters” are the other’s “worse”.

    Still, there is SOME overlap between our concepts of positive change, and so cooperation is possible.

  35. lonbud - October 11, 2005 @ 7:30 pm

    Well, thanks for that glimmer of hope, Michael.

    I’d say, more accurately, that I wouldn’t necessarily like to see human nature change but rather, I’d like to see us encourage the finer aspects of human nature in our leadership and in our social institutions.

  36. Tam O’Tellico - October 13, 2005 @ 1:12 pm

    Warning: Anecdote Ahead

    Once I was visiting my neighbor Al who is politically to the right of Attila the Hun. He had a husband and wife visiting from Colorado who made even Al the Hun seem more like Al Franken. I, of course, was the object of derision, the token pinko, commie fag none of which applied, but the term liberal kept coming up with a sneer and a snarl.

    Exasperated, I finally said “Well, let me tell you what this liberal believes” and I reeled off a litany of public policies I favored about education and welfare. Totally flustered, the Colorado Cold Lady replied increduously “Why, you can’t possibly believe that.”

    At this point I borrowed a line I hate to have to admit I stole from George Will. “Ma’m, let me assure you; I am the world’s foremost authority on what I believe”.

    Point is, as the forum demonstrates despite the boxes we try to keep each other contained in, our views probably have more in common than we are willing to admit. Hell, I HATE to admit it, but sometimes I find myself agreeing with the words of even Pat Buchanan and Louis Farrakhan.

    Now, one might suppose that these two men have nothing in common, but beneath the skin, I fear they do — and most of it isn’t too pleasant to contemplate once you probe beneath the rhetoric.

    Truth be told, most of us probably have a lot in common, bu we do a lot more talking than listening here. But we do so with the faint hope that someone on the other side of the political/philosophical spectrum will at least acknowledge our argument even if they can’t agree with us.

    Therein lies the only hope for civilization.

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