Wednesday, October 05, 2011

When I was a kid, and now

When I was a kid, a Republican president proposed and got passed the Interstate Highway system. This was passed as a non-partisan issue, and has been the backbone of the rise of the modern United States.

Now, under a Democratic president, his tiny (by comparison) American Jobs bill can't even get a hearing.

Before I was born, a Democratic president decided that the long-postponed racial integration of the US Armed Forces would take place, whether his generals and the people of the United States agreed with it, or not. Simply because it was the right thing to do. And it worked.

Just this year, another Democratic president finally ended official discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers and sailors. While it seems to be a non-issue in the services, he's catching hell for it on the right-wing airwaves.

When I was a kid, a whole generation of young Americans were going to college, courtesy of the GI Bill. This was mostly men, but even so, American business was propelled ahead by the brightest and most-educated workforce ever. Even poor folks, however, were able to get to college if they really wanted to attend.

Now, we are burdening all but the richest and poorest with enormous debt to attend college. What the hell is wrong with us? The rest of the world has figured out how to do this better. So can we, if we want to.

When I was a kid, people didn't complain about their taxes. People knew that taxes paid for not just government, but also the armed forces, and the nation's infrastructure. They were proud to be able to contribute. The taxes on the rich were very high, and yet the US prospered and grew.

Now, the rich control most of the wealth and power in this country, and have the lowest tax rates in fifty years. Many corporations pay NO tax, using not only sleazy tax-dodges, but also off-shoring American jobs, impoverishing the country but still posting record profits. And now they are allowed, as "legal persons," to make unlimited political contributions. And our jobless rate hovers around 9%. The Republicans in Congress have almost all signed a pledge to NEVER raise taxes.

And the American Jobs bill still gets no hearing.

I grew up Republican, proud of the Party of Lincoln. President Lincoln kept the Union together, won the Civil War, which ended the horrible stain upon US honor, the agony of slavery. But I grew up to see Republicans vote against the Civil Rights Act, and oppose school desegregation.

I honored Teddy Roosevelt, who created the National Park System, forever protecting our most beautiful and pristine public lands. Now I see the Republicans try to sully the environment, yelling "drill baby drill!" My goodness, the Environmental Protection Agency was proposed and created by the Republican President Nixon! Now most of the Republican presidential candidates want to hobble or even disband it!

When the Republican Bob Dole was running for president, he proposed a near-universal healthcare plan, which was nearly identical to President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yet NO Republicans supported or voted for it.

Republican President Ulysses S Grant established the Civil Service, to get graft out of government jobs. Now the Republicans are the ones attacking government employees, and trying to "privatize" as many government services as possible. What was different in 1872 and now? People have forgotten what graft is, and what it means. How many people know what Blackwater, Halliburton and Xie have done to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United States?

To be fair, Rupert Murdoch's FOX News and many years of one-sided (and dishonest) media pounding on the American public has had its effect. The Republican Party has responded by speaking up ONLY for the richest Americans. The Democrats have often retreated from support for the poor and middle class, minorities, children, as they lost power to the rich. But for the most part, they have done their part to protect the middle class. They have spoken up for health care for all, protection of the environment, repair of the US infrastructure, women's rights, education for all who want it.

But the money in politics is destroying us. I've signed the petition at and I hope it does some good. I worked for Pres. Obama and most of the local Democrats, and will do so again. But until we get the money our of the system, it will be much less than perfect. I've lobbied my local Congresspeople, and write and call all of them sometimes. But until we get the money out of politics, we aren't going to make the progress we really need to. I think the Occupy Wall Street movement shows that I'm not the only one who notices that something is wrong, and we need to get this turned around.

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