Saturday, October 21, 2006

Positive Plans?

*75 soldiers killed in Iraq so far this month

Aside from Iraq, here is what the Democrats have said their priorities would be if they win a majority in Congress next month: raise the minimum wage, allow the government to negotiate directly with the drug companies to lower presciption prices for seniors, repeal corporate incentives to move jobs overseas, make college tuition tax deductible, implement all recommendations of the 911 Commission. I don't know what's not to like about any of those issues.

The minimum wage hasn't been increased since 1996 but the Congresspeople evidently believe that the cost of living has, indeed, gone up because they've raised their own pay six times since then.

The Republicans who wrote the Prescription Drug bill deliberately included a provision that the government not be allowed to negotiate with the drug companies to keep prices down. Please tell me how that could possibly be a benefit for anyone but the drug companies themselves (and, of course, the senators and representatives who get big donations from them in return)?

Anyone who doesn't believe that what is happening to our jobs is a national shame just can't be paying attention. It started with our industrial base and no one much seemed to care about a bunch of factory workers who, common wisdom said, had priced themselves out of the market by fighting for a living wage and decent benefits. By God, if those people had only had been willing to work for a buck two ninety eight like the Mexicans, Chinese, Bengladeshis, etc. etc., those good jobs would still be right here in America. But, you know, I've not noticed that the CEO's have been willing to do "givebacks" in order to keep their companies solvent. In fact, their pay just keeps going up and up and up. Now, outsourcing has moved on to white and pink collar positions and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. We can't stop all out-sourcing but we certainly shouldn't be rewarding companies for doing it.

The Bush administration hypes education as the answer to the above but first, it is unrealistic to think that everyone in America is going on to college. It simply isn't going to happen for various reasons - lack of money, lack of will, lack of intelligence. And, second, even if it did, then what? Would we simply have college graduates working at McDonalds and Walmart? Those jobs would still have to be filled even if 99 percent of Americans had college degrees. So the idea of universal higher education as the solution to the problem is a silly one. But many of those who do manage to go to college, graduate with huge student loans to pay for, loans that it will take much of their working life to pay off. If we want more people to achieve higher education, then we should come up with a way to assist them in not racking up tens of thousands of dollars of debt as a result.

And, lastly, implement all of the 911 Commission's recommendations to make the country more secure. Five plus years after 9/11, we still do not check most plane cargos; we check less than 10 percent of shipping containers coming into the country; we have not secured our chemical companies or nuclear facilities. And to top all that off, we haven't even secured our borders. I suppose that if illegal aliens can cross the border in huge numbers month after month, then it probably wouldn't be all that difficult for terrorists to do the same.

The recent crash of a small plane into a high-rise apartment building in Manhattan is a case in point as far as our continued lack of security. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we were told it wasn't a terrorist attack but what if it had been piloted by a terrorist instead of a baseball player? Presumably, it could have happened just the same. What if the plane had contained explosives? Would it have brought down the building and everyone in it? How safe does that make you feel?

But, you know, for myself, I'm not especially worried about being attacked by terrorists. I might be somewhat more concerned if I lived in the heart of Manhattan or in Washington, D.C., but here in Wabash I think I'm way more susceptible to any number of every day catastrophes than becoming a victim of terrorism, things like cancer or an automobile crash or my house catching fire or being bitten by brown recluse spider or eating spinach contaminated by E Coli or.....

I think fear of terrorism has made America a country of cowards. We seem to be willing to simply hand over our American ideals out of our abject fear. We don't have to worry about terrorists taking away our freedom, our civil rights, our honor, our constitution, hell, we're just willing to trash them on our own. Habeas Corpus, who needs it? Just because it has been the backbone of civilized jurisprudence for centuries.....Those quaint little Geneva Conventions (which were written primarily by us)? We can't afford them anymore. We must be able to torture 'cause we're scared. Three co-equal branches of government? Nah, these fearful times demand an authoritarian president in which we are willing to endow far more dominance than the Founding Fathers ever could have conceived of - or would ever have been willing to agree to. Our government having to get warrants to spy on our phone calls and our personal information? Don't you know, silly limitations like warrants are an old-fashioned notion in today's terrified-by-terrorism world.

And as for Iraq, I can't say much more than I've already said in these posts. I thought it was a mistake from the start and every month that passes only convinces me that a) it was a tragic decision to make and b) once we made it, we did everything wrong to even have a prayer of a positive outcome. I think, at this point, there is nothing to do but get out and let the chips fall where they may. A poster asked if the Democrats had a "positive" plan for Iraq. Short answer: no, they don't. No one has a positive plan for Iraq and asking the Democrats for one is like setting your house on fire and once it is fully engulfed, asking your neighbor what his positive plan is for saving your home.