…that he did not send a committee.That about sums up how we should feel about the super committee, or really about congress as a whole. It was great to see Obama call out congress for doing nothing to help American people or create jobs while they still had time to pass a bill reaffirming “In God we Trust” as our national motto. It’s nice to see the president remind congress that mottos don’t come with a paycheck. The problem with our system is that when it comes to the next election there really is no alternative to vote for. The structure and money in place guarantees either a Republican or Democrat will be in congress from virtually every district. So the system is completely broken as a vehicle for doing anything for the citizens of the country. And they wonder why people have taken to the streets.
And the super committee also doesn’t give a hoot about the American people. Just look at who is lobbying them, who funded the campaigns of the 12 members (hint; it’s not the average working American), the fact they want to cut social security, which has nothing to do with our problems. Of course all this is hardly a surprise, as they continue to try and make it harder to register to vote and harder to vote. It is great to see congressman Ellison fighting back against this.
Kudos to Obama for also saying he will consider environmental along with economic consequences in deciding whether to go ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline. If he really does then the decision will be a no-brainer. We have to hope he is just stretching out the decision to avoid the firestorm from the right and in the end will do the right thing. Time will tell. I laughed when I saw the story that TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline, called Nebraska’s attempts to keep the pipeline from going through fragile ecosystems in their state unconstitutional. That’s what free trade gets us; foreign countries telling us what is constitutional. Time will tell if my laughter turns to tears.
In maybe the most hopeful news of the week (even if at the moment it can seem to be tilting at windmills) was that six senators, including Durbin from Illinois and Harkin from Iowa, introduced a bill for a constitutional amendment that would effectively overturn the Citizens United decision; an amendment that would give power back to actual citizens. And Boulder, CO just passed a measure (symbolic, but a start) affirming that only people and not corporations or unions are people, and passed it overwhelmingly. Madison, WI had earlier passed a resolution against the Citizens United decision. I hope the movement spreads like wildfire.
We’re #1!!!! Well, look closely at this chart and get back to me if you still think America is the greatest country in the world any way you want to measure it. Related to this, Jim, you’ll be amazed to hear that I mostly agree with David Brooks piece this week on inequality. It was sort of interesting and telling that he called the inequality that he thinks we have missed the red inequality. I think he is right that there is an inequality in the more rural parts of America that has been missed by the pundits and the beltway. It may be that he didn’t have space in his column, and the one thing I would say is that he needs to go a step farther and connect the dots. He seems to be arguing that the two inequalities are separate, and I would argue they are directly related. I think the fact that income and wealth has drastically moved upwards and that real wages of working class Americans have stagnated for a generation is directly related to working class citizens not being able to go to college, not have the education to avoid smoking, not have the societal backing to get married, raise a family, participate in American life. Brooks states “The zooming wealth of the top 1 percent is a problem, but it’s not nearly as big a problem as the tens of millions of Americans who have dropped out of high school or college.” He doesn’t seem to have a grasp as to why tens of millions of Americans have dropped out of high school, and I think the answer is pretty obvious and is directly related to the first half of his sentence. Still, good for David for getting a lot of it right. A college education isn’t the whole answer–it used to be more so–but since the early 90s even a college degree hasn’t led to gains in income, which have virtually all gone to the top one percent. It is also true that the unemployment rate for those with college degrees is much lower, around 4 or 5 %, than the national rate. So we may not be making more money, and at least we’re more likely to have a job. In our age of diminished expectations, I’m sure they want us to be grateful for that, even as they wonder why people have taken to the streets.