Sunday, October 19, 2008

One More Before Bed

My mind has been very busy today but I've got one more thought to drain out before I go to bed.

Here it is: I am sooo sick of this whole Joe the Plumber thing. What about Me the Project Manager?

I have quietly listened to the Joe thing without comment, appreciating the exchange between Joe the Citizen and Obama the Candidate. To me, this is what democracy is supposed to be about. When is the last time a presidential candidate went out into the wilderness where they might have to actually encounter someone who hasn't already signed a pledge to agree with them?

So what did Obama do when he encountered a skeptical Joe... did he ignore Joe and scurry away like a frightened little titmouse? No, he engaged with Joe... he listened to him and then tried to persuade him. They exchanged their ideas. In the end Joe wasn't convinced but I LOVED that he had the opportunity. Do you suppose McPalin would engage with Me the Project Manager at a rally event? Hell no! To them, Me the Project Manager isn't even part of the "real America". They have personally -- McCain and Palin -- attacked my values and questioned my patriotism. Say what you want about Obama but I have yet to hear him personally comment on the American creds or patriotism of the people who choose not to vote for him.

And I have to say, I didn't find a damn thing wrong with Obama's response to Joe, either. It seemed pretty obvious to me -- especially in the context of Obama's position toward the middle class -- that he was talking about the gross concentration of wealth in the top tier of the country that has occurred over the past decade (yes Mr. Clinton, I said decade) at the expense of the middle class. Am I really supposed to believe that a round of tax breaks that for a change favor me and pretty much all of my hard working friends, family, and neighbors should be considered "welfare"?? Am I supposed to believe that trying to rebuild and strengthen the middle class while not pretending it can be done for free is a bad thing?

Well I don't.

Here's the facts, jack: The fat cats have left this country on the verge of economic ruin. We have achieved the Clinton/Bush dream of transforming the US into a nation of bankers instead of a nation of producers. Hooo-ray. Well for those who are experiencing buyers remorse, I've got news for you: this ship ain't going to turn around over night.

Forget the myth of trickle down economics. Even if it was real (and it wasn't), it has never been less relevant than now with our CONSUMER ECONOMY being entirely Keynesian in nature. If the middle class isn't spending money, there will be no small business opportunities for Joe. Trust me Joe, take the tax cut (which apparently he qualifies for under Obama's plan). And take the cheaper health care, too. I'm one of the people who pays for (and cherishes) that "gold plated Cadillac" insurance McCain wants to tax. Just thinking about it pisses me off.

There's a couple of other things Joe might want to consider. First off, until the cost of American labor is on par with the rest of the world, corporate tax cuts will net us exactly zero new jobs. Zee-roh. It isn't just tax rates or health care or union wages that are contributing to our plight... it's real wages. If they can pay a guy in China to do the same job for $13,000 that we'd pay a guy over here to do for $70,000 (and without any pesky environmental laws), where do you think that job is going to end up? But fear not, Joe... American wages have been stagnating for years now while wages in the BRIC countries have been rising. In a few short decades we'll have this whole wage disparity thing licked.

Our goal during this period should be creating and marketing new energy. Beyond economic stability and national security, this is maybe our next best chance to create a foothold from which to climb in the new world order. "Drill, baby, drill" is what oil people say when they want the party to last for a few more familiar years... it is NOT what visionary, forward thinking people should be saying.

Obama is also smart enough to know (coming from a state legislative body, perhaps) that federal government has a role to play when times are tough and it's not just about bailing out banks. Most economists seem to agree that infrastructure spending will be the key to keeping the national economy lubed, to keeping money flowing through the local economies in a downturn. Otherwise, what exactly does everyone think is going to happen when the municipalities are cash-strapped in a prolonged recession? And it's not just about saving schools and pensions and public transportation, either. Hopefully everyone knows that the term "crumbling infrastructure" is not just a work of rhetorical art... I think about it every time I drive over a bridge. It's as necessary an investment as a new roof or new windows on a house... not sexy and not cheap but the cost of NOT doing it will cause you to lose whatever you were trying to save (and then some).

So go ahead, Joe... vote against your own interests in the name of ideology. You won't be the first and I'm sure you won't be the last. I'm just a little bothered by the idea that your vote goes against my interests, too.

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