Sunday, April 20, 2014

We got a lot to talk about!

          As I said in my previous post I want to guide you to exactly where I stand on what I believe are the most important problems facing America today. It is a complicated world and there are multiple issues that will have to be addressed. It will require an organized effort to be successful. Only a shared vision of where we need to go as a nation will result in long term success. As I see things I believe these must be a part of the vision for America going forward

          Climate Change

          Yes, it is real and it is our fault. Despite the far rights efforts to debunk the science with false hoods and scientists who disagree the fact remains that there is an overwhelming consensus among scientists about two things. The level of greenhouse gases or GHGs is rising due to human behavior and the climate is warming because of it. The debate comes in when trying to analyze the effects it will ultimately have on the environment.

Very conservative estimates put the global temperature rise by the end of the century by 2 degrees Celsius and a sea level rise of 2 meters.  Sea level rise of two meters will cause the displacement of tens of millions refugees worldwide. This will not only affect far off place like the Maldives, or Bangladesh or India but this will cause the relocation millions as well as a loss of infrastructure, agriculture and more here at home. Cities like Miami, New Orleans may no longer exist if even the most optimistic views of climate change come true.

The problem is the more we discover about what is currently occurring to our environment the faster and more extreme the changes are. Glaciers, year round snow packs, permafrost and the arctic sea ice are disappearing faster every time we measure them. Though these are major issues to deal with the real unknown is the ice that sits atop Greenland and the Antarctic. There is enough water stored in those two places to raise sea level to apocalyptic levels worldwide. The current position is that the ice should remain there for a long time to come but every time we measure these massive ice sheets are disappearing faster and faster and we honestly do not know where the tipping point is in relationship to the ice sheets long term survival.

Not acting to prevent all the further damage to our environment that we can is an ethics issue. With the knowledge that the scientific community has reached a consensus on the impact that we are having on our environment, lack of action will seem criminal in hindsight if even the most minor of environmental predictions come true. We need to impress upon our leaders that this needs to be of utmost concern. A national effort like that we made to be the first to the moon should be in place as soon as possible. What’s the downside? We create a bunch of jobs and industries that make the planet a better place to live. I could live with being wrong on this. 

Up next: Income Inequality

I'm Back!

Well it’s been a long time, much longer than I had realized when I finally went back and looked. My last post was March 8th 2012, 25 months ago. A lot has happened since then. I graduated college with my Bachelors and started my MBA, started a new career, the government has been shut down, and partisan politics is still alive and well within our government. The reasons behind my absence were many but a big one, and the one I think that frustrates a lot of progressives, is the vile and unmitigated response from the right who will hurl insults and hash up unrelated or past social issues rather than deal with the facts of current issues. One can use evidence, logic, and truths but somehow the right has had the ability to re-frame the argument in such a way that puts progressives on the defensive defending battles already won. You can trust that that will not happen again to this Patriot.    
           One of my biggest frustrations is knowing who to trust when trying to assimilate information on a given subject. As I have mentioned before in previous posts that trusting news outlets to tell you the truth is tricky at best. Media outlets are beholding to their sponsors as well those who use the power of information as a political weapon in today’s partisan winner take all politics. So I decided to do some reading.
        I read books on our founding fathers, George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to better understand the motivations and actions of these great men as they brought forth a nation unlike any other in history and did something so incredible afterward. They peacefully handed over power to the next set of democratically elected leaders, an unprecedented event in world history. This basic and fundamental process is one that I feel is under attack by the far right and is a source of energy and inspiration to my renewed effort to contribute to the progressive movement in any way I can.
          I read books on the history of the US economy so I could better put into context the current situation and draw from history’s lessons to better evaluate today’s actions and proposed plans. I studied the housing bubble and mortgage crises that spawned the worse financial crisis since the great depresion. I read about the bailout of the big banks and the actions of the Fed and the US Treasury Department and who actually benefited from billions in tax payer money .
          I also read books on the social conditions of the past 40 years to better understand how policy decisions over that time have affected the average American and how they have influenced the erosion of the middle class.
         I’ve read about climate change to try to better break thought the clouds of misinformation and denial the far right likes to spread. I will go into much further detail in subsequent posts but make no mistake it is REAL and human activity IS to blame. To deny this is truth is to endanger the lives of millions of people and ignore what could be the greatest human tragedy in history. We must find the political will and capital to this fight this fight.    
        The authors of these books were men and women with PhD’s in the fields of subjects of which the books were written. Some were people with their boots on the ground in a given situation and some were even Nobel Prize winners. My attempt was to better understand the issues facing us today and to form my own opinion on the issues rather than simply rely on media outlets to hand me one.
         I had always pictured myself as a hard line moderate. It could be because I come from a family with a Republican father and a social progressive Democrat mother. I've always believed that there is much to gain from taking the best both of both sides. That being said with what I have learned over the past two years and applying that knowledge to today’s situations and political environment I can come to only one conclusion. I am a social progressive Democrat and I believe that philosophies and ideas that come from this are in the best interest of the people of the United States of America.

         In my next post I will outline my positions on the subjects that I believe are the most important issues facing America today. I would like to hear your input as to which issues you believe are the most important. To the right is a poll in which you can choose among the biggest issues facing America. Based on those results I will go into further in-depth analysis into those subjects in the order of your choosing.
          As Americans we must engage in this conversation. I invite you to come back and reopen this dialogue. We must work together and continue the work that our fore fathers started some two hundred thirty eight years ago. The ever ongoing process of........ Forming a more perfect union.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Get the money out!

We as Americans have been an active part of this partisan politics that has contaminated our leadership and undermines the future of our Democracy. Our fault is twofold; voter apathy has led to lack of participation of the majority of voting age citizens and our willingness to succumb to the strict adherence to ideological extremes by those who do. As fewer American’s participate in the process it becomes easier to manipulate by those with the will and means to do so.

Most Americans who do participate now get most of their input to make voting and policy decisions from the information assimilated from media outlets such as CNN or Fox news, local news outlets, political blogger or talk radio. Unfortunately many will only consider one or two outlets that best paints the picture from their prospective. The problem becomes when Americans read or listen to these sources and believe their content is political gospel. ALL Media is reliant on advertising dollars to make money and ratings not the truth decide the content you hear.

Democracy has long been result of compromise and moderate heads prevailing, but this does not make for good ratings. Rather what sells is speaking about extreme viewpoints or adherence to strict ideological beliefs that bring with it a reliable, predictable audience of hard line supporters and opposition that can be marketed to successfully.  When we as Americans accept these one sided viewpoints as political truths as many do, combined with a lack of voter participation we set ourselves up for the disillusioned partisan politics we find ourselves mired in today.

When all those with the means and will, no matter their purpose, only have to manipulate the few to guide the course of our democracy down a single ideological path we all lose. We are all Americans first, rich or poor, blue collar or white collar, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, Catholic or Protestants, Muslim or Jew, white or black. We are the most diverse population a country has ever seen yet our strength comes from our ability to put our aside our differences and unite under the cause of liberty and justice and the belief that our rights are not given to us by our government but rather are unalienable and must be utmost concern in all our government does. These are powerful beliefs that brought forth a nation like no other in history of the world but are lessened every day we continue down this path of narrow-minded, short sided politics we see today.

Somehow we need to separate ourselves from this cycle. We as Americans must all participate in our political process. Many have died for our right to do so, and many more continue to die for that opportunity for themselves all around the world every day. We cheapen their sacrifices when we don’t exercise our own right to vote. To do this responsibly will require effort to gather relevant knowledge from multiple sources to avoid being manipulated by those who wish to do so. We must also be tolerant of others viewpoints.  The tough answers to the problems that face America today will not all come the left or the right, they will not all come as a result of an all conservative or all liberal agenda, but rather will be found through the collective work of us all. Never truer is the statement “United We Stand Divided we Fall.” Don’t let the powers that chose to manipulate our system to divide us into two diametrically opposed camps that believe the other is the root of all that is wrong with America for this is just not true.

 History is littered with the corpses of ideologies that were practiced to exclusion from the beginning of time to the present. One-sided thinking only ever serves the few, at the cost of the many every time. With all that our politicians speak about, talk radio shows rant over, or prime time news agencies report, they give little heed to this because it serves them well to have us this way. Ratings are up, advertising dollars are flowing and small voting bases continue to elect politicians that serve this cycle of division.

We must do what is necessary to end this downward spiraling cycle of one-sided politics. The great driver of this cycle is the money it takes to get elected and represent the “people”. For example the cost of the 2008 combined presidential campaigns was over 5 billion dollars by some estimates and current projections put the current 2012 presidential campaigns cost at over 8 billion dollars. This kind of fund raising puts our leaders in financial shackles whose keys are controlled by ideological zealots with little or no heed to the moderate, silent, majority. The average American has no voice in this system of leadership by the highest bidder and that must not be allowed to continue. If we continue to let money dictate who our leaders are we have thrown off the tyranny of the British crown and replaced with that of the All Mighty Dollar.

The Citizens United decision continues the trend of one dollar equals one vote over one person one vote. This is a dangerous path we as a country are traveling down. We must bring the accountability of our leaders back to the people and away from big money interest. I believe that most people who seek public office at least originally do so with good intentions of making a difference, but our current system makes our politicians beholding to the money it takes to get elected and often prohibits them from serving the will of the people.

We as a people have overcome much in our history. Starting out as a small collection of thirteen English colonies we cast aside our shackles, defeated an empire and rose to become a world superpower. We have persevered through a civil war that faced brother vs. brother and healed to become a stronger unified nation.  We have overcome a great economic depression to become the richest nation the world has ever known.  During WWII we rose to the challenge and led the world to defeat evil and tyranny hell bent on world domination. We can be better than this. We owe it to all that have come before us and sacrificed so much for us to enjoy the advantages of being an American today.

We must and can do this. Our forefathers had the wisdom to set up a system that can be changed and this one single change could set forth a foundation on which the numerous issues facing America today could be addressed. We must remove this cancerous tumor that is killing our political process. Many believe that their vote no longer counts and refuse to cast one, insuring that it truly doesn’t.  It is the responsibility of every a citizen of a democracy to vote. We must exercise our right to vote and we must demand this change.We must ignore one sided media outlets and politicians who tell us fifty percent of Americans is wrong and solely to blame for our country's ills.  Only though cooperation by our people and our leaders will be able to chart a course for America that actually works for Americans and not those who wish to purchase our destiny as if it was theirs alone to buy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Need for Vision

       I don’t believe many people would pack up the family and head off on vacation without knowing where they were going. Most likely an individual is not going to leave to go to someone’s house without knowing where they live. A business will most certainly have a better chance of success with a vision of where it wishes to go and accomplish. Basically speaking it is always better to know where you are going before you set out on a journey. Sometimes I feel that American does not know where it is going. America seems to be split up into different factions all pulling in different directions. Each division is trying to sway the decision makers that their plight, issue, or concern, is most important without regard to the larger picture. America in my mind suffers from a lack of unified direction and without it we will continue to scrap over solutions to smaller problems without fixing what I believe is a major concern, a united path for America’s future.
          Where is America going? What kind of country do we want to be? What should our roll be in the international community? How do we as Americans define success for America? Our country has been at its best when faced with a challenge and a unifying goal. When Japan attacked our Pearl in the Pacific, America responded by putting forth an effort that ultimately led to freedom from oppression and tyranny for millions around the world. In the height of the cold war, America’s response to the presidents Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon in a mere decade, gave birth to a focus that led to technological breakthroughs as we developed answers to problems that had never even been conceived before. America is the richest country, not only in personal worth but most importantly in capital. No other country can match our amount of factories, equipment, buildings, land, resources, and the most highly trained work force in the world, and the world knows it. That’s why they keep loaning us money because they believe in the potential that America possesses. Currently a much underutilized potential.
          At present America faces some very critical choices, large unemployment, huge budget deficits, shrinking middle class, large trade imbalances, military conflicts and obligations worldwide to just to name a few. All these are difficult and complicated issues that will employ many complex and overlapping responses to deal with as America goes forward. The only way that I believe that America can solve all these issues are if they are addressed within the context of larger goals. Larger goals let you prioritize the smaller accomplishment needed to reach the ultimate destination. This prioritization allows for the logical allocation of the resources needed to solve the problems we currently face. Currently we fight over budget dollars and resources, in what amounts to a haphazard me first way that delivers little direction to our country as a whole. The challenge in America as I see it is finding a vision that most can agree upon for the future direction we wish to head.
          I believe Americans love to win. We love to be the first at something, the inventor of something great, leaders in our chosen fields. Our past is literally a tapestry of accomplishments and firsts spanning the last two centuries that can attest to the advancement of society as a whole. Americans have harnessed the power of lighting, and the atom. We were the first speak to “Mr. Watson” on the telephone and the first to take flight among the clouds. Time and again American ingenuity and know how has made the world a better place to live. Well I believe it’s time for America to lead the way once again. It’s time to give this great American potential something to organize around and focus on. But what should it be?
          For me the answer is energy. As this world continues to grow and the demand for energy rises, the country that leads in the production of energy will be the country with the best economy, the lowest unemployment rate, healthy tax base etc. Now we all know that fossil fuels are bad for the environment and finite in their numbers so the future must be in the form of renewable sources. For my dollar I would love to see a push in this country for renewable energy that would rival the national effort it took to go to the moon. We can all agree that we send too much of our wealth out of our country each year to import foreign oil. We should be able to agree that the development of these resources is happening worldwide whether we do it or not. This type of national effort could grow jobs that will last well into the next century not just some short term answer that we will have to pay for later. I would be interested in a goal of reducing our demand for foreign oil by 50% in ten years and by 100% in twenty. Some might see this as too aggressive of an approach, but it often takes bold vision to lead through tough  times.
          If this country could focus on such goals it could prioritize spending on projects that develop new industries that would employ Americans in quality jobs for decades to come. We could center the efforts of our financial institutions to support business development in these areas with all the bailout money there sitting on. We could bring down our trade imbalances by exporting the solar and wind power to developing nations around the world. All without the threat of socialism or the loss of entrepreneurship that has led this country to greatness. We need quality leadership that can instill this type of long term vision in America. Without a long term vision that we all can agree on, America will continue to be at the will of the same old short term solutions to long term issue that never fully solve anything.  I’m sure energy alone isn’t the solution but we need long term goals like this to capitalize on the incredible advantages that this country still has over the rest of the world. The challenge will be to find the leadership that can unite America in a common purpose, for when we are united, Americans have time and again have made this world a better place for everyone.