unastronaut*

Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Posts Tagged ‘recession

Three things everyone can do to make the economy stronger

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I go AWOL every now and again, but certain things pull me out of hibernation. This week’s shenanigans on the Hill have been tacky melodrama at best. There are so very few politicians who know anything about economics, but many know something about theatre. 

If I wanted to hear something completely familiar delivered by a bad actor, I’d have watched a Tom Cruise film. Here are three things we can all do to make the economy stronger. These aren’t things we can all read which will simply make the economy stronger, but things anyone and everyone can do.

  1. Mind your wallet. Ask anyone you know if they’re in debt. When everyone has a little debt, it amounts to a lot of debt. Debt, at a certain point, creates friction in our economy. Get out of debt, start spending your money again and you’ll already be helping.
  2. Attempt to understand the economy. Look up terms you are fuzzy about. Get as realistic a vision of a ‘better economy’ that you can. It won’t happen overnight, but it also won’t happen with our heads buried in the sand.
  3. Understand that the economy is not partisan. The economy doesn’t care if you call yourself a Democrat or a Republican. The economy is not waiting for anything. It won’t suddenly ‘do something’. It is simply a machine to circulate money, and it needs lube.

Written by unastronaut

February 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

It was Congress…

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…just not the 110th United States Congress. When President Bush passes the buck on the housing crisis, he sends a solar wave of hypocrisy through the nation strong enough to power every home in America for the year. Maybe that’s a bit idealistic, but we truly have a revisionist in the White House. This current housing crisis couldn’t possibly have been created by bank deregulation and bankruptcy reform of the 109th Congress.

Banks knowing Americans couldn’t get out of trouble when they employed predatory lending practices didn’t spur a wave of high-risk, adjustable-rate mortgages. That couldn’t be how it happened. It must be, as President Bush said today, the fault of a slow-as-molasses Congress divided by the fringe elements of both sides. That makes perfect sense.

Scapegoating

The 110th Congress has failed America in many key ways. Inactivity in government can mean the difference of survival and “falling through the cracks”. It doesn’t come close to the devastation that counteractive policy and reform causes the American public. We work harder for less money, but the banks make far more. The average American swaps out name brands for generics as luxury jets, high-ticket jewelry and $10M apartments in Manhattan sell like hot-cakes.

Cronyism

When you sell office supplies and your boss is underqualified and only became manager because of personal connections, work can be a source of frustration. When your personal connections begin causing entire populations to be ignored in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, it becomes a much larger issue. Mike Brown, Michael Chertoff, Alberto Gonzales are only a few of the more well-known examples of Bush administration cronies, but they provide enough of an example of how ill-served the American public can be when cronies are appointed. This angers me no matter who is doing it, but by far the most gross example of overstretched qualifications are those appointments by the current faux-Republican, neo-Conservative administration. With recent comments exposing his lack of respect for humanity, one could put Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in that grouping as well.

Economic factors are always difficult to directly correllate and I have a feeling I may have overstretched this link. The 109th did deregulate banks and make it much harder for hard working families to file for bankruptcy. In some way this surely has affected the housing crisis, in lender’s attitude and consumer’s vulnerability. I’m just not convinced it’s a direct cause -> effect relationship, so don’t get the impression I’m blaming the entire housing crisis on the 109th or one piece of legislation.

It’s funny how Hillary Clinton brings up the job application analogy

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Senator Clinton is the guest of Keith Olbermann on Countdown tonight. She continues to make the race more divisive than she needs to, however this interview (obviously, given the show) didn’t spend time focusing on Barack Obama as unelectable. She did connect Senator McCain to our new 100 Year War and this tanking economy. He’s not going to be worse than George Bush, but he’ll be taking over when the country is already down and could deliver the knockout blow to the average American family.

Sen. Clinton pointed out a matter of her resume, saying consider this in her job application. If she’s ever lived in the real world, when you lie and inflate your resume, you lose the job. The media shattered her bold-faced lie about Bosnia with a 2-minute video clip, where Chelsea stands by her side as an 8-year-old reads her a poem. I don’t care about jokes of sniper fire, it was a lie, and the fact that you want to consider this a job application means you did something that would disqualify anyone else from any job.

McCain: Cutting taxes more important than balanced budget

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Republican John McCain said Sunday that cutting taxes and stimulating the economy are more important than balancing the budget, and accused both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama of supporting tax hikes that would worsen the impact of a recession.

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Senator McCain thinks he’s going to reverse our $3 trillion deficit by cutting wasteful spending. That’s great, Mr. McCain, but after that $18 billion, what then? We’re 0.6% better-off. The “wasteful spending” he should target is the $500 billion/year war festering a cauldron of anti-American sentiment and making orphans out of Iraqi children. We can’t afford McBush, John McCain is a far better human being and more worthy than Bush to lead the free world, but that was in 2000.

Today he is too out of touch to be effective, associates far too often with Bush administration cronies and knows absolutely nothing about the biggest issue this election cycle: the economy. Sure, he can get advisers who understand the economy, but without some independent understanding he won’t even know who to pick as advisers. That’s a dangerous situation given what has happened to this country as a result of the neo-conservative hijacking of the Republican Party in the last 7 years.

I also noticed on CNN and MSNBC today he’s reportedly aiming for energy independence within 5 years. This is an admirable goal. I just keep thinking “who’s the one spouting empty rhetoric again?” It seems to me that because Senator McCain has been in Washington for a quarter century, he gets a free pass. Anything he proposes is assume to be a good enough idea and above careful scrutiny. A major goal for energy independence should be in 5 years, but to say a candidate can eliminate reliance on foreign oil in that short time almost reeks of corporate greed over the last 8 years.

If this is/were possible, we basically fought a war on a lie, helped our enemy gain footing in a new part of the world. Our true enemy had never been allowed or accepted within Iraq (and isn’t in Iran, for that matter). We’ve stayed 5 years, as long as McCain thinks it would take to gain energy independence. Over that time, only oil companies and corporate executives have benefited from any Bush administration policy.

As this administration destroyed the economy, it sends us $600 checks to make us feel like we’re not being ignored and our rights trampled. As this administration has needlessly put our servicemen in harm’s way, we’ve only heard fear mongering from the White House and most of the news media. As schools have become re-segregated, this administration has standardized tests, so that those with the fewest opportunities and resources are graded on the same scale as those in $100 million high schools.

This article also brings up William Ayers, 1960s-era (as in, when Obama was under age 10) radical who admitted to setting bombs. They were the most extreme part of the anti-war movement, and truly detracted from many of the ideas they tried to uphold. The interesting thing about this, however, is that this man is an English professor. He’s not in jail. I know some Americans read this and think, well WHY NOT? That is a perfectly natural reaction, but the simple fact is that he has not been convicted of a crime in a court of law. Why should Obama be guilty by association? He points out, when asked about Ayers, that he was 8 years old at the time. I believe he was living in Indonesia or Hawaii, far away from Ayers and the Weather Underground.

I’m no TV Guide, but any show with Sean Hannity will discuss this for the next 6 months. I’m also no psychic, but he’ll probably never mention McCain’s wife stealing drugs from her non-profit organizations, his absolute ignorance of economic issues and his utter confusion concerning our enemy. He thinks the way to fix our tax code is to build another, optional system and have it run alongside the current system. That will sure save money for our economy, bloat the government and tax code even more. Vote for a better economy and a safer America, pass on John McCain.

The election storyline America doesn’t want to tell

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A lot of hype and excitement is surrounding this historic election, and the potential for the first woman or first black man being elected president.

What isn’t told is the potential for this storyline: America returns to rich, old white man and balks at the notion of making history. America is given two choices that say much more than any single presidency in the history of this country but chooses to return to the familiar. No matter how you try to spin this outcome, it will appear to many Americans, and the rest of the world that we haven’t changed or learned a thing.

Forty years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed we still have surprising work to do in the way of civil and worker’s rights. Before Dr. King was assassinated he was set to begin working for jobs and worker’s rights. He delivered his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. After years working for freedom, he was preparing to work more for jobs and gaining economic independence. Much of that work is yet to be done.

What would speak volumes to the effectiveness of the March…for Jobs and Freedom, would be for the American people this November to give the most important job in the land to Barack Obama, or even Hillary Clinton. In many ways the histories of the civil rights and women’s rights movements have been intertwined. Less than half a century after de facto freedom was earned in this country, a black man could be given the most powerful job in the world. As a lifelong student of history, as well as someone who has heard “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” ad nauseam, I believe this opportunity must be seized.

Both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are great candidates who would do a lot within the first 100 days. Neither would destroy the fabric of our nation, or even approach the kind of damage done to our Constitution by the Bush administration. Both would help average Americans who want only to work and send their kids to college and be left alone. Neither would threaten or challenge the rights of responsible gun owners or sportsmen. Most importantly, both would initiate the withdrawal process from Iraq.

Doing this alone would spur our economy, rejuvenate our troops looking for Bin Laden in Afghanistan and improve American favor around the world. I can get behind that.

CNN and the truth about Chicken Little in the media

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A great panel on CNN points out the fact that Barack Obama came from an extremely modest home and somehow becomes an elitist the moment he achieves some semblance of the American dream. This truly is about O’Reilly’s “Christian male power structure” and the added element of race, where comments and actions done almost exclusively by crusty old white men for over 150 years are now offensive coming from a Congressional minority. The problem is that the so-called minorities and multi-racial families are approaching the majority in this country. Our Congress simply does not represent us as a people. It’s not representative democracy, it’s representation by oligarchs. Incumbent re-election rate is around 98% and yet we’re supposed to believe they actually represent us? As this country changes, the political landscape has not. To call a child raised by a single parent and his grandparents an elitist is like calling George Bush’s speeches “eloquent and visionary”.

The anti-Obama people will have to make this the biggest issue for 3 weeks the same way they did with Reverend Wright, but informed and astute voters will ignore this kind of pissing contest. That isn’t to say “they’ll wise up and vote for Obama”, I just don’t believe this is a voting issue. When it comes down to it; the war, the economy and health care are the key voting issues. More people are annoyed that crap like this makes news and we still wonder exactly why and how our economy is going into recession. We wonder how exactly the media covers speech and words when we’ve paid $500 billion to a war and rebuilding effort in Iraq. That money would be useful in a rebuilding effort in the inner cities or middle America. New Orleans could still use some rebuilding efforts. Those are issues, these words people mince are just distractions.

The Obama Campaign has issued a semi-apology in that he regrets his wording and if it possibly offended anyone. Now, I acknowledge the fact that he’s simply saying his wording offended people, but again I point back to what you see in the CNN clip, or on the blogs. Many people acknowledge that what he said was a harshly-worded truth but many Republicans as Chris Cillizza rightly points out are fixated on this as the “new Jeremiah Wright”.

Hillary is responding to this as well, and sounding oddly just like John McCain on the subject. She quotes a phrase and delivers a talking point on this relating directly to the crowd in Valparaiso, Indiana. She is the embodiment of what Republicans are talking about with big spending and big government. She said to bridge the socio-economic divide we must “roll up our sleeves” and get things done. By getting things done she means more regulation, more bureaucracy and more taxes. At least John McCain doesn’t want to spend more money. Hillary Clinton would be better for our country than John McCain in my opinion, but Barack Obama is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a leader who truly does try to listen to the people. To work toward a more perfect Union. His background in community organizing will be valuable in the White House, especially after 8 years of the deaf Bush administration.

Hillary Clinton just had the audacity to directly plagiarize Obama’s unity lines: we’re not on labor teams, and management teams, and Democrat teams and Republican teams, we’re all on the American team. It’s not a big deal, but the same people who blow up little things Barack Obama says are going to directly ignore this example of her hypocrisy. She’s stuck in the old politics that will be forced out by a more free media, saying “America needs a President who doesn’t look down at them”. A person who has worked on the street to organize and repair communities affected by the mass-layoffs.

She’s the ad-hominem candidate. If you want to hate back at the Bush administration, get a chance to try them for war crimes, lash out at idealists who are now swelling to the polls and donating in record numbers or simply want to criticize syntax and semantics that’s fine, vote for Hillary Clinton in the remaining states. I simply believe in Barack Obama if you want a president who won’t divide the country the way the last name Clinton does, or McCain now that it’s nearly synonymous with Bush on some major voting issues.

I have made a decision on this election. That isn’t to say I’ve stopped paying attention or that I will apologize. I’ve called everything like I saw it, I just saw more of the attacks against Obama as petty. Polls show 13% of the population still thinks he’s Muslim. This is absurd, after he’s been barraged with press over a 20-second sound bite of his Christian pastor that Fox News (and the rest, for a shorter time) repeated for 3 weeks straight . Misinformation is truly everywhere. For once I have a chance to not vote for the “lesser of two evils”, but someone I think has potential to be a great president.

After being bullied and pushed around for 8 years by the neo-cons, an extreme right-wing portion of the Republican party, many will be eager to work with a uniting force in the White House. There are so many issues, and those who don’t lose their seats in November will be well on their way in 2010 if they don’t show some distance between their service and the tactics of the Bush administration. There are countless examples of cronies getting jobs above their abilities, dissenters being fired, reports being pre-screened by the White House and the suspension of habeas corpus where everyday Republicans do have a better conscience and would take the opportunity to work with Barack Obama. Arguments he is not willing to work across the aisle are false.

Juan Williams analysis of Obama’s ‘guns and religion’ statement was the most fair on Fox

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Last night’s O’Reilly Factor (04/11/08) was hosted by Laura Ingraham since Bill had the night off, but the show still had some interesting pieces. Just keep in mind interesting isn’t a moral distinction. When it looks like a train wreck, no doubt they will be all over it. However, the latest train wreck is the polygamist compound raided and hundreds of children freed from virtual sexual slavery. It’s not interesting in a warm and fuzzy way, but ever since I heard what was going on in Colorado City, I perk up when I hear about a cult or polygamist sect. Sometimes Fox News can inform, you’d think they would be the ones covering the business masquerading as a religion in the Church of Scientology. I wonder if Greta van Susteren’s membership in the church has anything to do with their portion of that media shortcoming?

Tonight again, Fox had to run their “what’s wrong with the Democrats, what’s good about McCain” segments, tonight Obama’s “guns and religion” comment was the subject of discussion. Juan Williams was spot on even in the midst of Ingraham’s list of reasons to bury your head in the sand. In this case, I agree with Juan Williams that there is truth to Obama’s remarks(here). He even said the Republicans play on that fear people in the bible belt and rural areas have of others, and their love of their religion. It’s called the religious Right, which is increasingly becoming more mixed and less conservative. They still work to protect the family and build community, but many are not buying into the Focus on the Family garbage of old.

They also had an interesting segment with Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, an anti-war mother’s group and Lt. Pete Hegseth, executive director of Vets for Freedom. As much as I admire and respect the sacrifices of ALL of our men in uniform, no matter what where or when they served or are currently serving, this Lieutenant’s brushing-off of a legitimate concern, that the majority of American people do not support continued presence in Iraq. This opposition to the war is not a new thing, as nearly that much wanted all combat troops out by the end of 2008 according to a February 2007 USA Today poll.
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This is the way our administration feels about the opinion of the majority, so long as the minority we’re talking about is the “Christian male power structure”. And this representative of Vets for Freedom seems to offer the same brush-off. I know the soldiers should keep their eyes on the ball, but the people are watching this all unfold, and much like John Ashcroft on the conversations leading to some absolutely inhumane and immoral treatment during this war, we’re saying “history will not judge this kindly“.

My favorite analysis of this issue has come from the DailyKos and wmtriallawyer who dared to look up elitist in a dictionary. Check it out here.