Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Some things I don't understand:

  • Why do the most successful modern-day politicians have to be from the South? Obviously, those of us in other areas of the country must be willing to vote to vote for "their" guys but they must not be willing to vote for "our" guys. Why do voters in other parts of the country put up with this? (California is the exception that proves the rules, i.e. Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.) We have George W. Bush, a Texan. We have Bill Clinton, an Arkansan. We have George Bush the Elder, who always struck me as an East Coaster at his core, but claimed Texas as his home state. We had Jimmy Carter, a Georgian and Lyndon Johnson, another Texas. So, we have to go back to JFK to find a president from the East. And Eisenhower to find a Midwesterner. And in Congress, most recent leadership positions have been held by Southerners. In the Senate, the current Majority leader is Bill Frist, a Tenneseean, who was preceded by Trent Lott, a Mississippian. And in the House, Dennis Hastert, from Illinois, was an afterthought after Bob Livingston, from Louisiana, resigned in scandal and Newt Gingrich, from Georgia, was kicked out in a coup by his own party. But, who has really controlled the House? Not Hastert, but Tom Delay, a Texan. As a Hoosier, I'm beginning to feel a little resentful of this seeming insistence by Southerners that only they are worthy to hold the reins of power.
  • And what is this argument we have going about whether or not pharmacists can prescribe certain medications with which they disagree on moral grounds, such as the Morning-After pill? What would be the logical extension if everyone could decide for themselves which parts of their job they would do or wouldn't do. If an inspector in a factory was a pacifist, could they get away with declining to inspect certain products that go into missiles? I work for a Prosecutor's office. What if I decided that one of the offenses deemed criminal by my state wasn't really a crime in my view. Would my boss allow me to choose not to process the paperwork on those charges? I could go on and on but the point is that you have a job, you do your job. If you find your job so morally repugnant that you can't bring yourself to do it, you quit your job. This is rather like the debate we used to have when pro-life supporters claimed that they shouldn't have to pay taxes to support something they were totally opposed to on moral and religious grounds. That was always a bogus argument (although the anti-abortion people won in the end because it is the rare abortion that is taxpayer funded). What the heck would happen to our system of governance if we could all decide for ourselves what purposes we did or did not want our taxes to be used for? I can tell you one thing: there would have been no Iraq War if I'd had anything to say about it but, of course, I didn't because we choose our leaders to make our decisions and we pay for those decisions, like it or not. If we don't like them, then we vote those leaders out....assuming we can convince enough of our fellow citizens to agree with us.
  • Why is New Orleans still a basketcase? Can anyone doubt that in another era, we wouldn't have charged into that city with the kind of American can-do spirit that we put into sending a man to the moon and re-built it from the ground up? Can anyone doubt that Bill Clinton wouldn't have sent whatever men, money and material were necessary to bring New Orleans back? Can anyone doubt that Ronald Reagan would not have faced the nation and promised that one of America's crown jewels woud not be allowed to die on his watch and then did whatever it took to keep that promise? This is the America I remember. America the bold; America the believer that anything is possible if we put our hearts and minds to the task. What has happened to that America? The sight of New Orleans today is a pall that hangs over our national psyche.
  • In the same vein, what does America actually do now? We obviously don't manage ports. We don't build cars or pour steel - at least to the extent that we used to. If you go to Walmart to buy almost anything, you'll discover that we don't weave or mold or solder or assemble - at least to the extent that we used to. If you call Tech Support for a computer problem, you'll soon discover that we don't man most of the help desks. I recently read that a revolutionary new way of creating solar energy has been South Africa. This used to be America's province - our inventors found answers to the world's problems; our mighty industrial base created products of all kinds; our tech people conceived the concepts that changed the face of communication. Our dollar was stable and solid and sought after by the rest of the world, particularly the developing nations. Now, in the 21st century, America seems diminished somehow. Our confidence in our place in the world is shaken. We our a debtor nation, having to hope that China and Saudi Arabia continue to purchase dollars to fund our deficit. Our production workers are insecure as good-paying jobs, pensions and health care become more elusive. The workers who listened to their leaders' advice that education was the key to continued employment as production work fled overseas are discovering that computer programmers and engineers can also be out-sourced. Where did we go wrong and what can we do to put it right? The thinking of our leadership in Washington is stagnant. I think we must look for new ideas in new places.

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