Saturday, February 26, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
While I typically find it more pragmatic and constructive to define what I am versus identifying what I am not, I am compelled to do just the opposite in this case. You see, I am politically moderate even though many would classify my perspectives as excessively and colorfully Liberal. The reason is simply the Republican Party of today has deeply deviated from its positions of yesteryear. It is observable in much of today's Democratic legislation, which originated and was advocated for in the Republican Party. These issues include "cap and trade" and the current version of the Healthcare Reform Act. We have the Republican legislators of the 80's and 90's to thank for these antiquated ideas. So, instead of identifying my own personal political paradigm, I find it more constructive to identify why America should not only run from the Republican Party of today, but in fact be deeply concerned by the party platform and skeptical of its membership. I will articulate three areas where the party serves to choose, not the people of the United States, but the interest of large multinational corporations, many of whom originated and operate outside of the United States. These three areas include foreign policy, domestic policy, and social issues.
Let's begin with foreign policy as this is the primary focus of the Republican platform. Across the board, with a few exceptions, the majority of Republicans believe in free trade. What is free trade? Well, this notion came to full actualization during the 80's under Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher. The primary goal was to radicalize the IMF and World Bank to not only make recommendations to developing countries requesting debt relief or emergency loans, but to stipulate conditions for said loans. For example, one stipulation may be for a country to open its borders to outside commercial interest and to privatize government protected industry. This does not sound all bad until you realize that many of these sovereign countries had U.S. installed or backed dictatorships that elected to privatize protected industries against the will of its citizens. The end result included rapid local unemployment, exploitation of natural resources, and slave labor style working conditions for the affected countries. This is why when I hear Republicans use words like freedom and liberation I sigh in disbelieve because it either means the utilization of our military for economic means (Iraq) or it means the toppling of a regime via economic policy including using our influence at the IMF and World Bank to dictate bad policy. You might suggest that these policies, despite how destructive to foreign countries, benefit the United States. Well, that is the pitch; however, there is no evidence of said claims. In fact, since the Regan years we have only seen the widening of economic discrepancy in this country along with deflating international competitiveness because the aforementioned policies benefit MNCs who have no loyalty to any sovereign country but to its shareholders and to its profitability. I could surely write a book on this section alone but let's proceed.
Next, let's dissect the domestic agenda of the Republican platform which is intertwined with the above foreign policy. I don't believe there has been a free trade agreement House Speaker Boehner has not voted for but he surely has voted NO for supporting aid to those American workers who were disenfranchised by these agreements. This reflects a microcosm of the deeper and more expansive philosophy held by most Republican that suggest we should work hard to serve MNCs and then rely on a position of "self reliance" when managing the displacement of the American workers suffering from this destructive policy. The Republican vote against the Healthcare Reform act is an extension of this policy, which keeps employees dependent upon business for its healthcare. The "right to work" status many states seek effectively strips workers of their right to organize effectively and keeps these workers subject to less wages, poorer benefits than unionized members, and has led most Americans to transition from a one income family to a two income family. If you don't believe me, please check out the corollary statistics between union membership and household income. Do you remember when we were told that removing the unions would strengthen our productivity and subsequent global competitiveness? Well, it never materialized. We produce less and we are less globally competitive. I speak to this because the current Republican Platform seeks to enhance this position by going after Teachers and other state/city employees in an attempt to break up their ability to organize and reform these areas with an end goal of privatization. Again, this does not benefit the American workers but corporations who have an international not American agenda. This is only one example of many but for purposes of brevity I will move on.
The area where I disagree vehemently with Republicans is with its social agenda. This agenda serves to propagate fear among Americans which arouses support for Republicans among voters. However, most Republicans have little interest in implementing their social agenda unless it serves corporate interest, which in most cases it does not. If Republicans cared as much about these iconic social issues such as abortion, immigration reform, gay marriage, or prayer in school these issues would have long been resolved. We have had more than our share of times when Republicans dominated the three branches of government in the last thirty years yet there has not even been one realistic push for any of these issues. Why? Because the corporate interests don't share these same values (if you can call them values). Both global and domestic corporations support gay marriage, abortion and are laissez faire with respect to religion and all of them reap the rewards of illegal immigration. In short, these social issues are lures to attract voters particularly in the South and West who are highly religious. And let's not forget about global warming and other environmental issues which I should not have to elaborate on who Republican leaders side with.
In closing, let me say I don't pretend that what has happened to the Republican party starting with Nixon is not shared by several members of the Democratic party. In fact, both parties are shockingly similar in so many ways that I am reluctant to identify with the Democratic platform. However, I believe the Democratic party is the lesser of two evils and I can find good conscious among more of its membership. I also believe with the rise in power of MNC that we need to strengthen our federal government to better watch guard our society from intervening outside interest and preserve the rights embedded to all Americans in the Constitution as the individual is unlikely to accomplish on its own.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
There is something intrinsically human about helping people in need whether this entails a hefty donation to your favorite charity or giving your time to make positive changes in your community. While I would never discourage either the giving of money or time, perhaps we should examine how our money is being spent and how our time is being utilized.
First, let's start with our money. Our motivation, quite candidly, stems from the fact we all know someone with a horrible disease and have seen firsthand the negative consequences these disease cause and most of us have lost a loved one to such a disease. Or we identify a need in our society to protect the most vulnerable which include our children. According to Forbes, the top ten charities in the United States include three medical foundations claiming to support research development to combat specific diseases. The remaining attempt to fight homelessness, poverty, and protect children. So, what is wrong with supporting these organizations or the thousands of others that claim to foster programs to relieve these social and medical ailments? In regards to medical research, the vast majority of scientific breakthroughs in medicine and pharmaceutical science do not come from these organizations/foundations. In fact almost every major medical discovery was void of any connection with major charity organizations or medical foundations. Where did they come from? Universities throughout the United States and beyond. Even more alarming is these discoveries were often made by accident. You see, research is very methodical and planned; however, the conclusions often lead to surprising discoveries or at least new questions to ponder. It is rare that a scientist who focuses only on trying to undertake one type of cancer or other disease arrive at the answer. The odds of this happening are slim. So, what are your donation dollars doing when they are sent to medical or health non-profit organizations? Well, they simply fund awareness and prevention campaigns. This is surely not a bad thing, but you should remember your dollars are unlikely going to find a cure. If you are looking to help change the world by donating your dollars to an organization that may truly make a difference by developing a cure to a specific disease, consider donating to your favorite research institution or university. Sadly those performing the research are struggling to secure every dime and would be grateful for your support. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do understanding the current grant process universities employ. If only there was an organization to match researchers with potential donors.
What about those organizations that serve and protect children, the elderly and the homeless? While I would argue these organizations utilize their donors' money in more critical ways, giving money may not be the best way to serve these groups. This is where I advocate we need more people to serve with their time. However, try giving your time to smaller, local organizations versus large national and multinational groups. The advantage to giving your time (or even money) to smaller groups is simply they are typically more effective at helping out with specific problems affecting your community. Further, they are often run by all volunteer boards with little or no operating costs and have a more targeted focus. These organizations thrive on altruistic giving and I can't think of a better way to truly "get involved" than to see the child or homeless individual you are helping be served by your efforts. Also, consider other ways of giving that many often forget about or dismiss as something they could not do. One such example is foster parenting. In 2010 463,000 children lived in foster homes. There is a critical need for foster care parents and while this will not be right for everyone, perhaps this rewarding role is right for you. Lastly, be politically active in your community. Too many Politicians get elected in local races that truly don't reflect the values of their constituents. This is because voter turnout ratios for local elections often reflect less than 15% of the population. So, stay active and vote for social and economic programs that will protect and serve the underserved in our society.
Let me just reiterate that giving of any kind is a positive action and I do not aim to discourage this activity. I do encourage more people to be engaged and understand what and how their money or time is being used for. Lastly, be cautious of national religious organizations as many of these groups consistently end up on the "worst charities" list because they endure excessively high administrative costs. Now, get out and serve your community!
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The mission or objective of this blog is to discuss social and political issues to enhance understanding, nurture empathy, and generate new ideas on how to live. Too broad? Well, I did this intentionally as I have a myriad of interest and a diverse group of friends and did not want to limit the conversation. It is my goal to post almost daily, but surely there will be days when this does not happen. I invite all to engage in the conversation; however, I hope this is done with civility and respect for everyone. I will start with my inaugural post tomorrow, February 2, 2011.