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A fair and reasonable assessment, I think.

I know that I discourage either just posting links or straight cut and paste, but as I make the rules here....I can break them. How's THAT for Democracy?!!

I think this is a fair and reasonable shot at understanding what is making us so steamed at each other.

So Remember, Only Connect, my friends.

Charles Shaughnessy


  1. "...but as I make the rules here....I can break them. How's THAT for Democracy?!!" suck. lol

    Now to address your "link"...

    I do believe there is a common ground out there somewhere...I'm just not sure it will ever be reached. I, as a liberal, cannot understand the logic behind some of the conservative's thoughts. It drives me nuts. But, I also know that conservatives hear what liberals say and think the same thing about us. So where's the answer?

    I should own stock in Ibuprofen. I keep it next to the computer specifically for this blog. lol

  2. It's like my classroom--not really a democracy, but more like a benevolent despotism where I make the rules. So I'm certainly okay with you changing the rules.

    Thank you for providing the link to an article that mostly supports what I've been saying all along. Whenever we have a change in presidents that includes a change in political parties, we always have this type of opposition developing; it's just that this time people are taking their opposition to the streets. In many ways, the baby boomers who were so active in opposing the Vietnam War in the 1960s are reliving the joys of their youth by participating in the protest movements today. The difference is back then they generally were Democrats opposing both a Democratic president and a Republican president, and now they are Republicans opposing a Democratic president. It is not surprising that as people get older they become more conservative (although some never really abandon their liberal beliefs).

    The writer does effectively convey why people are disgruntled. They are longing for a time in which they were the majority and had high expectations for the future. Then JFK was assassinated, the conflict in Vietnam escalated, the War on Poverty was insufficiently funded, race riots broke out across the country, and people took to the streets--with 1968 being an especially volatile year. People generally remember fondly the promise that was the Kennedy administration, although they overlook the fact that he did not accomplish anything domestically because of a coalition of southern Democrats and Republicans (the social programs he proposed were not passed by Congress until after his assassination).

    And, in case anyone is wondering, I've never been to a Tea Party rally, and I probably will never attend one. I am old enough to remember watching the protest movements during the 1960s, and I do teach about them in my classes (often showing films to help my students better understand what it was like back then), but I'm not old enough to have participated in them. I have a colleague who was at Kent State in 1970 and knew some of the students who were killed, and sometimes I have her come talk to the class and give a personal perspective.

    I think that what we have now is a situation where both sides have dug in their heels and are unwilling to consider the merits of the other viewpoint. As I read it, this article does effectively convey the reasons why people are upset. It is ironic, though, that a few years ago they were anti-Bush because of the increasing role of the federal government in our daily lives through NCLB, Homeland Security, etc., and now he is their hero. It's just like remembering "the good old days" that really weren't too good if you actually think about what was really going on.

  3. This "NY Times/CBS poll" has spread like wildfire over the internet, and is now gospel truth...a "true assessment" of the Tea Partiers. A poll, conducted by phone, with no verification of facts...with only 1580 people. Not that there isn't a lot of truth in it, but it's also a very flawed study. For months, we heard how the Tea Partiers were ignorant hillbilly racists who couldn't spell, had guns, and were only killing time during the day before the big KKK rally and crossburning at night. Now that it's become obvious that they AREN'T(and that liberals, as we suspected, were infiltrating the crowd), suddenly a new study shows them to be "educated white rich men"? Big difference there, but also still an attempt to "marginalize" the movement. The left and their BFFs in the media don't quite no what to make of this movement, which is growing by the day..and exploded in numbers after the HC fiasco. People who voted for Obama "to give the other side a chance" watched cautiously as Obama governed, and became increasingly disenchanted. The HC stuff sent them over the edge, and they said "ENOUGH" and joined in the protests.
    This article is at least a little more "fair", but still very biased(which I'd expect, just as I'd expect bias from Fox). It is way too focused on the race issue,which is the left's favorite weapon. It also focuses on the oft-repeated fallacy that "take our country back" means to take it back to another era(preferably one where blacks "knew their place", I suppose?), when it means to TAKE IT BACK FROM THE CORRUPT POLITICIANS AND THE CORPORATIONS. No matter how many times it's explained, it falls on deaf ears. There is also NO MENTION of the concerns about leaving a debt to our children and grandchildren that will never end(and yes, Bush made a mess but Obama's just continuing it).
    I am grateful to see that the TP supporters are being described as intelligent and educated...which I knew already. Our arguments are resonating with 'the people', and the movement is growing...and it has the political machine terrified. They are bound and determined to make us out to be some fringe..if the racist hillbilly doesn't work, we'll do a "study" and make them into educated rich people who are out of touch with the needs of the struggling people. Neither one is true. It may "look like" the rallies are older folks, but that's because they are retired and have the fight for their children who are struggling financially and for their beloved grandchildren. The Tea Party supporters I know in real life are not well-off, they are scared to death. We may be ok for today, but we have seen too many of our friends lose jobs and not be employed after 2 years, and there but for the grace of God go I. Even the "income figures" are in NJ, $50,000 is barely making ends meet(if at all).
    I'm trying to present the other side of this article, but at the same time, I'll admit it is one of the better ones. Helping us to see what we have in common is much more productive than dividing us. But it really isn't accurate to place so much emphasis on one study, which the "whole world" seems to be doing this week. I truly believe the folks on this blog have so much more in common than it appears...and if we'd unite in our common frustrations, we'd be pretty powerful.

  4. Just a quick(yeah right)note...the Bush issue is one of the divisions within the Tea Party movement, and why there are so many people calling themselves "conservatives" instead of Republicans(or leaving the Rep. Party). I'm not sure for any of them though, that Bush is a "hero", he made some tragic mistakes and was NOT fiscally conservative. I think there's a wide range of "Bush opinions" within the movement, but I think most feel he is NOT the villain the left portrays him to be, and that history did not begin in Jan 2000. That "defense" of Bush gets translated into "they love Bush,he's their hero", when it's more like "we don't hate him as much as you do".

  5. Sometimes you just need to break the rules. Seemed like a good breakdown to me. Funny that they are whinning about the state of the economy, paying taxes to support the poor, and our defecits. Meanwhile they are kicking back and living their own personal middle class American dream. Happy for them. Saying the rep the older American ideas or promises. America is changing and sometimes we have to change with it. But they need not try and say they represent the feelings of lower class and most of Americans. Cause they are not speaking for me. Yes, i am happy that the President is on the side of the poor right now. We are in a recession. Also, want Glenn Beck to be fined and taken off the air. For instilling more rebellious attitudes and paranoia. If not for freedom of speech, i'm sure he would have been by now. Not meaning to rehash sentiments from the last blog. But that 72 year old gentlemen saying that "having more kids to get more welfare money" just drives me up a wall. Look, like i said before. Since the reformation in 95' or so. You don't get checks for having more kids anymore. Because they installed a family size limit. To stop such doings. Once your family size gets to (i think it's 3or maybe 4 kids). You can't add child #5 to your check. Yes, you can get more stamps for child #5. But remember, you can't buy diapers or clothing with stamps. And baby food and formula is very expensive. I have had friends that got welfare for like 2-3 months. $200-225 for 2-3 kids. One was living in her car and had to lie to get into the refuge house. So she could get some shelter. Her boyfriend had left her & pregnant. The Housing project she lives in now has no carpet and no AC. Considered a luxury. We live in Florida (90-100 deg) and there are newborn babies there. She has to leave her baby in just a diaper (due to heat rashes) with a fan blowing on them while they sleep and play. People need to take a tour of the projects to get a reality trip. Or rent the true stories at a blockbuster entitled "The Pursuit of Happiness" w/Wil Smith and/or "The Blind Side". Sandra Bullock just won an oscar for her performance. Which she was great in by the way! They would not want to trade places with us for a day. I don't even who or where i came from. My identity from when i was born. And i know i didn't get here by a If not for my kids, i'd never know what it feels like to look like or be biologically related to someone. The constitution is so important to our nation and the 50's and 60's were important parts of history to America. Not to disrespect. But things are a mess and we need to fix them for all our sakes. Not just for the Democrats to win out this round or ect.

  6. keep a bottle of Ibuprofen, I'm pretty sure that JoAnn keeps a bottle of Maalox, while I keep a ball to toss against the wall (it's a soft one that won't harm anything, but the physical activity does help relieve stress). I wonder what Charlie keeps next to his computer, because I'm pretty sure some of these posts must aggravate him a bit.

    Anyway, maybe we just need to lock representatives of all of these groups in a room and not let them out until they agree to disagree and move on. They probably are more alike than they realize, just like JoAnn says "folks on this blog have so much more in common that it appears." Unfortunately, I think we are getting close to the point in which both sides become so entrenched in their positions that they probably wouldn't even agree on the shape of the table or the types of chairs.

    Meanwhile, I shall go and ponder if our nation is actually becoming a benevolent despotism....or an enlightened one.

  7. The TEA Party (Taxed Enough Already)...doesn't surprise me to learn that it is comprised mostly of upper class, affluent Americans. The article does effectivly convey why we are so stirred up and angry. I recall JFK stating that "if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."
    The TPs are infused with the Leona Helmsley mentality ("only the poor pay taxes").

  8. Great comment there Karen!

  9. WOW!! Thanks for posting that interesting article. It’s nice to know that you are at least trying to understand where we are coming from. ;) As Karen mentioned in her post, both sides have dug in their heels pretty good and none of us are willing to meet in the middle. And just like JoAnn, I too believe that we all have a lot more in common than we probably actually realize. If we all would just find some common ground and combine our forces maybe our country could eventually begin to excel again.
    I do agree with the article on some of the points made. It definitely is breathtaking that 92% of our country believes that it is on the wrong track yet the government is still taking the “train” down that direction. I would have to include myself as one of those who has a “deep conviction… that the country is being run by people who do not share” our values. The article was right on when it said that “conservatives embraced the Constitution”. Well, of course, we do! We are Americans, after all, for God’s sake! Just because we support our Constitution does not mean that we do NOT support change.
    My husband, children and I have a set of rules that we have to abide by in order for the family to be successful. Now, we have what society would call a “large” family of 6 because of our 4 children. One of our children has some special needs. Because of this situation, that specific child is unable to do things in the “same” way as the other children. However, we DON’T change the “set of rules” for the household we just change the “method” of how things are done with that child.
    In this same way, our nation should and does change the method in which things are done according to our Nation’s changing needs and ever-increasing technology. In the process of changing their methods, though, our government is failing to adhere to the rules of the Constitution. And THIS is where the angry “mobs” come in to protest.
    As “skat35” said…”the Constitution IS very important to our nation” and “things are a mess” and do “need to [be] fixed… for all our sakes”. However, changing the bylaws of our Constitution is NOT THE WAY to do that! So, I’ll say it AGAIN even though I know that it will be falling on deaf ears. We as conservatives DO want change for the better but not change in our Constitution which was written so many, many years ago by our wise and discerning forefathers. Please, let’s LEAVE it that way!!

    @Skat35…as far as those conservatives “whining about the state of the economy…meanwhile…kicking back and living our own personal middle class American dream”; you could say that about half of the liberals out there as well. I know that for Karen, JoAnn, and myself we are not necessarily “living” the American dream; we are more like “struggling” to even get NEAR to that American dream while trying to assist everyone else getting there, too. And by that I mean those who think they are ENTITLED to the American dream by living off of the so called “rich” people’s taxes (I’m NOT talking about the poor, fatherless, widowed, and disabled who REALLY need our assistance).

  10. Makes sense as well there, ValerieRN. Understandable!

  11. Charlie Honey. look at what you're doing to us. Deidre keeps Ibuprofen, JoAnn keeps Maalox and I keep a large bottle of Advil next to my computer. I may upgrade to an IV of Valium soon! At least you get me going.

    I live in Canada but I keep a very close eye on US politics because it often has an impact on our government, who by the way, is Conservative at the moment (I won't go there now because I'll need the IV of Valium right away)

    I like President Obama and I think he's doing a good job given the mess Bush left behind. It gets my blood boiling when people start questioning his citizenship or saying that because he is not white he cannot understand their problems. That is pure BS. It has absolutely no impact on his ability to go his job and I have not seen any favoritism towards the black population.

    Also, please keep in mind that no matter what Party is in power there will always be this mud slinging going around (I call it kindergarden politics) except that 5 year olds often behave better than some politians. Also,there will always be people who are going to fear change, because in one way or another they have never really left their comfort zone. I think this applies mostly to the older generations who have been coasting along in their little world and like it the way it is. Predictable. There is always fear of the unknown. Some embrace it while others fight it tooth and nail. Personally, I think change is a good and necessary thing, and yes scary at times.

    Just getting off politics for a moment, I think the fact that we're killing ourselves off slowly is also a major problem. Global warming is causing major changes to our planet and if we don't wake up and take it seriously it will be to late. As I mentionned I live in Canada (Quebec)this year we had one of the warmest winters on record (we usually get to -20 to -30) colder when you factor in the wind chill. We also got very little snow. At the rate the polar ice cap is melting, we'll be opening our door and coming face to face with the local Polar Bears. I'm only slightly joking as they have been coming farther inland. We are killing our planet and ourselves in the process. Not bad for people who are supposedly enlightened and intelligent, wouldn't you say?

    Always a pleasuree to "talk with you" Charlie. It would be fun to talk to you in person again. Hopefully I'll get the opportunity to do so in the near future.
    Take care!!

  12. I don't know how everyone else feels, but it sure sounds like this blog is becoming an endorsement for a health care plan--Ibuprofen, Maalox, Advil, Valium--of course, I'm sitting here with the ice pack on my shoulder (shouldn't have tried throwing the ball with my left arm yet). At least we're all getting involved (and sometimes agitated), which is usually good for the heart (I guess we should ask Valerine, RN about that).

    Anyway, to change direction a bit--one thing that Kate Zernike mentions is that the right also opposed some of Bush's policies, among them No Child Left Behind, which has been continued by the Obama administration and will, in all likelihood, be expanded (the blueprint is available on the U.S. Department of Education website). Tea parties did not develop in opposition to NCLB, probably because NCLB really wasn't viewed as a revenue measure. It was a bipartisan law when it was initially passed in 2001 (Sen. Ted Kennedy shepherded the bill through the Senate) and focused on standards-based education reform.

    I know that educators are generally against it because of the emphasis on test scores (and that it has led to some states developing tests to help students "pass"--and thus the schools/states get rewarded with more federal funds for achieving goals). I know that school districts have revised their curriculum to "teach the test," resulting in an emphasis on reading and math (to the exclusion of science, social studies, arts, etc.--the subjects that are not tested). What do you folks think about NCLB? Do you think that the federal government should have any input in education? If schools are receiving federal funds, should they be held accountable, and, if so, how?

    P.S. Charlie--I know that this post might be taking the blog in a slightly different direction, but I do think that if we look at something that both sides seem to agree has not accomplished its goals, we might be able to understand better why the Tea Party supporters are so irate about the expanding role of the federal government in people's daily lives. Isn't that one of the purposes of "Only Connect"?

  13. Not thinking that we should change the constitution. Am happy to hear that you guys do want some changes. Maybe both parties will eventually agree on some. Not thinking of any ways possible to achieve the American dream on any government program. The only thing that comes to mind is the Habitat for Humanity program. Because owning a home is a way to achieve that dream. I hear they're is a long waiting list. Like years. But i could be wrong. You certainly can't get anywhere near to middle class status by collecting foodstamps. Also, could you guys explain what morals and values you are refering to. That the gov representatives or the democrats don't agree with. By entitlement; you are saying that some Americans think it is their "right" to get stamps and medicaid. There are income guidelines. You mean that they are purposely not attaining a job so they can collect them. Am still confused how they're life is so good by collecting an amount of food and/or medical assistance. You can't pay bills with stamps. How are they living? What like Social Security Fraud? I reckon i am confused somewhat still regarding some of your ideas here. Never felt entitled to anything. But am thankful for the help i received. Never heard anyone i know ever say the government owed them. And i know alot of poor folks. Not saying this crowd does not exist. Just haven't met them myself. Sound like more of a criminal type mindset to me. Someone who'd say that everyone or society owes them sounds like a con or scham artist. Or a selfish ass. Have met some of those before. There is always going to be some fraud. Insurance fraud is a huge problem as well. Lots of folks try and get something for nothing. Seems like some finger pointing or sterotyping going on to me. Directed at the poor. Which is not uncommon. Is also hard for us to represent ourselves. Especially since we are usually not government officals. People tend to decide stuff for us. Without usually consulting us. Cause we are uneducated bafoons, so what would we know about what we need. Is true that we are alot more likely to commit crimes due to the fact that we are usually in a more desperate situation. The temptation can be there as well as some exposure to commit crimes. So we get a bad rep and we sometimes did earn it. Folks are sometimes afraid of us. Hell, we are scared of each other sometimes. But, can't see that we are responsible for so much bickering in politics and in national deficts. Perhaps all the natural disasters as well. Just an idea.

  14. Hello,

    While I have been a single mother for 15 years of three children, raising a special needs child, and not always having health insurance, I have utilized for a few months of my single parenthood, food stamps. I bought food that I froze, or went to the Farmer's Market,and cooked healthy for my three and I. This was when I was dealing with cancer, and had left my former husband in 1995. I "made" too much to be on welfare because I exceeded $600 monthly.

    I have to say, the best thing that happened to me was being denied benefits other than temporary assistance, and sliding scale childcare expenses. Even those I found ways around, and went to waiting tables and lived within my means. I eventually changed careers twice more, and am about to embark, finally, to the higher education I have wanted since I graduated high school in 1986. My oldest daughter will also be attending college.

    I am not "affluent" monetarily personally, but I do have a mortgage on a modest home in a good neighborhood, and am a frugal person. I do not buy beyond my budget, nor do my children have everything with all the bells and whistles. They have jobs, they do their homework, and are fit. We have a garden, and take vacations locally.

    To me, the "American Dream" is not how many things or people I can collect, what game systems I own, or the latest model of automobile. The "American Dream" that my ancestors came here with Lord Baltimore to pursue was freedom from fear of death for religious practices, and the ability to begin anew. Every day that I drive on a road without fear of landmines, snipers, air raids, or military convoys, I am free.

    We are blessed to have the modernization, clean water, fresh food and many other untold blessings that we take for granted. Tea party? If they are for maintaining a fair government, then I back them. I am not a "rich" white man, I am an American Woman, with a mind and a purpose. My riches lay in family, friends, freedom, and the American Citizenship I am thankful for. Let us hope our government now, and future, do not abuse the Freedoms afforded them. The Tea Party is a good reminder that others WILL hold the government accountable.

  15. @George's daughter,

    Sounds like you've gone through alot in your life and have come out stronger for it. God bless you, for hanging in there when times were tough.
    In regards to the Tea Party, It has become almost like a watch dog group. Watching what both sides are doing. Are they doing what they said they were going to do. And we needed that. Because we cant count on the media to inform us, like they are suppose to.
    And we need good honest people to run for office. So they can do the job they are sent to do. Unlike the ones that go to DC and then do what ever they darn well please.
    I'm praying that we can have a second chance in this country, so maybe next time (if there is a next time) we can do it right!!
    God bless, ya'll..

  16. Georges Daughter

    I think you are a magnificent, resilient woman who should be very proud of herself. I sincerely hope you do well with your education and achieve your dream.Most people would not have been able to accomplish what you did and come out of it with such a positive attitude.

    You are so right when you say that having the American dream does not mean having the latest techno toy or the most expensive clothes. and every other gadget out there. I do think that a computer is no longer a luxury but a necessity these days.

    I too grew up on welfare and did not have many things that the other children had. But I was never resentful or sad. I understood that my mother (who was single. My father was never in my life)was doing the best she could with what she had. We had a roof over our heads, food on the table and so much love and friends. Our home was always filled with people and had a warm , loving atmosphere. You can't ask for better than that.

    I wish you and your children all the best life has to offer.

  17. @George's are incredible!! Thank you for sharing your story, and I pray that your cancer is ancient history.
    @Charlie..I read Huffington Post, and today there is a "poll" that shows that 80% of Americans don't trust the government. Do you know what those who are commenting are saying? That it's "just" a telephone poll with skewed results that doesn't reflect reality, that people yank the chains of the pollsters by giving false answers, and that most rational people ignore calls from #s they don't recognize. Is that not EXACTLY what I said about this NYTimes study?(bangs head on desk, takes swig of Maalox).
    I know that the people at the Tea Parties are not affluent(how they can "report" that over 50% of the respondents make 50K/yr and call it wealthy is beyond me), nor do I understand why it's so hard to grasp that the govt. takes our money and squanders it yet we're the bad guys when we say "enough".
    But...can we look at the flip side of this coin...the "wealthy white liberals"? The Limousine Liberals and the Hollywood Hypocrites(and I'm sooooo not talking about you Charlie, we know you walk the walk, and there are others like you..I'm talking the uber-celeb A-list). *IF* they are so concerned about the living conditions of the poor, their access to health care, their lack of food...why aren't they giving ALL that they can to help? Why do they own multiple luxury homes,wear designer clothing, get plastic surgery, and carry their DOG around in a Coach bag? Do they think we're stupid?
    And the Washington politicians(both sides)...the Kennedys being king. Why are they taking a SALARY from the taxpayers, when they have more money than they'll ever be able to spend? They hide their money in off-shore tax shelters, yet make laws that raise ours(and then they get to put their own name on the law, and are praised for helping the poor?).
    There is an elite liberal community out there who may give a lot to charity...just enough to make themselves feel good while not making a dent in their lifestyle and conspicuous consumption. Tells me that they are JUST as greedy, selfish, and out-of-touch as the people they vilify. And we see it. Perhaps "public servants" should be just that...a part time job, working for $1/yr. Then I'd believe they care about the people, and understand some of what is being said.

  18. @George's Daughter...your story is truly amazing and inspiring! I know personally what it is like to raise a special needs child. And it is NOT easy. But to struggle with cancer on top of everything else...I give you kudos for your diligence and strength. I do hope your health has returned to you!
    @JoAnn...I couldn't have said it better about that "flip side of this coin". You nailed everything so accurately right on the head that I have nothing left to add.
    Thanks for your wonderful posts, Ladies!

  19. So, should we distrust rich white men because they are only looking out for themselves? Should we distrust poor white men because they are only looking out for themselves? Somebody please make up their minds about all of this. I need to know who to hate. Oh wait, hating is against my religion AND a stupid waste of time and energy. It seems like everywhere I go, I run into wing-nuts, and it is getting very boring. I do believe we have beaten politics and religion to death. I will soon be going back to school and hopefully I will run into a few people that do not have the mindset of "I know what I know and what I don't know is irrelevant." Too many us are getting tired of beating our heads against the brick walls of proud ignorance. I have no doubt that you will soon come up with something brilliant, that will be worthy of debate, soon. lotsaluv

  20. @George's daughter Wow! Single mom of three for 15 years. Hats off to you! I was single mom for 1 yr. with 1. It was very tough. Have 3 now and don't think i could handle it again with all of them. You must have alot of determination and will. I have a special needs child too. With asberger's syndrome. He is a handful. He is really agressive and hits his brother, other kids, as well as the teacher. I have him in private school. That helps because less kids and he gets one on one help from teacher. But, wishing for a special ed program or class for him. What kind or other special needs do some of your kids have? Thought i read somewhere else that a third person on her has one too. Anyway, tell me what is your secret to keeping yourself together?

  21. Not that we shouldn't trust either of them, Lisa. Just don't see how the rich white guys wants and needs should be used as a representation for the majority of us Americans. According to article. Especially, when most of us are not rich in the first place. Don't i wish i could party with them. Maybe we are being left and right winged nuts here. If the shoe fits, guess i'll just enjoy wearing it. Having a bit of fun. Hope so is everyone else here. Just hashing it all out. But am glad to hear that hating is just not in you. So come on back real soon, we still need ya. Wondering where are my buds from myspace: David, tazette, Kerstin, Mel, wiffeldust & missing Kristi? Guys are you still around? Maybe they are working alot or something.

  22. Wow! I am impressed by the strength of people who are posting their personal stories on this blog. I have been very fortunate in that I have never been on welfare (although while I was in graduate school I probably could have qualified), and I do not have a special needs child--but I know people who do and see the challenges they face in their daily lives, and I admire their fortitude and dedication. I also must be one of these "wealthy" people, because I earn more than $50,000 per year (although I certainly don't see myself as wealthy--I don't even own a house). My point, though, is that our representatives, senators, etc. ARE public servants--and we do have the opportunity to remove them from office at least every two years for House members, four years for the President, and six years for Senators (and the term lengths vary on the state level). It will be interesting to see how the elections shake out this fall, as it could be a sign of how disgruntled the population really is (after all, voting is the primary way that you can express your discontent with or support of a situation or candidate), or how apathetic the people are, in that they are making a lot of noise now, but it wouldn't translate into "throw the bums out" in the fall.

    I do like the idea of public servants receiving $1 per year that JoAnn suggests. The only problem with that is that some--not all--would be easier to influence (okay, bribe). Their justification would be that they, too, need to feed their families, and they cannot survive on $1 per year, so they would willingly accept "contributions" from lobbyists, special interest groups, etc. to "support" their families, with the "understanding" that they vote a certain way in exchange for this financial support. It is one reason why there was a deferential society in the colonial period in which voters (white males with property) elected their "betters" in society, choosing candidates who had the leisure time to serve and who would not be easily influenced by others. Another option would be to return to a deferential society and establish property qualifications for officeholders so that only those who could afford to live on a salary of $1 per year would run for office, which really is the antithesis of democracy (although we are not a democracy, but a republic, according to the Constitution). I think, though, that term limits for Congressmen might be our best option, although it would take a Constitutional amendment to accomplish this (there are no limits to the number of terms a House or Senate member can serve, just as there was no limit to the number of terms a president could serve before the ratification of the 22nd Amendment in 1951).

  23. Even better, if they received $1 per year, they would have to have a full-time job, other than public service. So instead of spending so much time coming up with new ways to control the citizenry, they would take care of important business while Congress was in session, then go back to their lives. Like it was originally intended.

  24. I wonder how many would actually still be there if they only earned $1 per year. I suspect that there would not be many. Imagine, they would ACTUALLY have to work for a living!It seems that some senators, representatives, etc are there only to use up precious oxygen. They're full of hot air and that's it.

    But, like Karen said, we put them there and we have the option of removing them when their term is over. Until then we have to put up with them.

  25. Hi folks,
    perhaps my comments belong to the previous blog, but in keeping with the personal stories --
    I was employed for 25 years by a small college that closed in 2008. I have received unemployment benefits for the past two years that were paid for by both my employer and the federal/state govts. I am over qualified and older, thus I’ve had a lot of trouble finding work, in fact the only job I’ve managed to wrangle recently is as a census taker. While I’ve been diligently looking for work I have relied on federal extensions of unemployment benefits to pay my mortgage. Am I correct in thinking that Tea Party advocates objected to extensions of unemployment because it further deepened the national debt (as Senator Jim Bunning stated when he voted against these extensions)? @Karen< I imagine you can answer this question.

    It seems clear to me that the depth of the economic woes of our country have disproportionately affected the middle and lower classes. Did Tea Party advocates object to all the bailouts that were offered to corporations such as AIG, Chrysler, GM etc, that were likely to go under, in the same manner that they supported Jim Bunnings vote against unemployment extensions?

    I supported the bailouts because I believed it was the only way we could keep our system in place, so that not everyone would lose their shirts, their retirement, their savings, etc despite knowledge that there may have been corruption at the top and bonuses. Our system is based on “profit”, is it not? That’s why people feel like its okay to take bonuses while others get paid less, is it not? The goal (lest I use the word), of “socialism”, is not so much an evening out the haves and the have nots but it is a means to an end - lessen the incentive to grab all you can. That’s just my opinion.

  26. We all know that even if they worked for $1 there'd be special interest groups funneling $$$$ to all of them and they'd still be making eleventy billion dollars a year.

    Don't think that would work. In principle it's a good idea, and an attempt to keep them honest.

    But I believe that falls into the oxymoron category..."Honest politician."

  27. @Kathy...the Tea Parties really began in 2006(w/Ron Paul),when Bush "forgot" he was supposed to be conservative and spent like a drunken sailor. By then, though..the eternal primary was under way, we knew he was leaving, and were focused more on the upcoming candidates. The first TARP bailout kicked the whole thing into high gear...YES we were against that!We called, emailed, faxed and complained online. And both parties were behind that nonsense, with Pelosi,Reid and Frank front and center. As for Bunning's unemployment thing..I think it's was more that we just DON'T HAVE THE MONEY, not that the people aren't suffering. Many of us, while employed, are underemployed or having our hours cut and wages frozen. So we may qualify as "employed" on a survey, but are still scared to death. It's a complicated situation, and people get hurt no matter which way the politicians decide to go.
    I agree with you, that we need to lessen the incentive for the folks on top to keep grabbing all they can, while the people who keep their business running suffer. But, with social programs, there is also the incentive to grab all you can by the folks at the bottom. The people in the 'middle' just literally can't do it anymore, and are slipping into the poor category. That MAY be the have 2 classes, rich and poor...and guess who runs the show? It's happened many times before in history.
    @Deidre...that's right, there ARE no 'honest politicians', and that's what the 'non-fringe' of the Tea Parties is all about. I know it "looks like" we sat back and gave Bush carte blanche, when in reality, MOST people were in post-9/11 shock and just not paying attention, esp. here in the NY/NJ area. When we did, we got mad. It's a shame that so much of the media attention is on "anti-Obama" stuff, because I think we're all on the same page(minus the fringes on both sides).

  28. @Kathy: This February (2010), the Congress passed a "pay as you go" plan that in effect required the funds to be available before they could be spent. Bunning objected to the extension of unemployment benefits because the money wasn't there. In other words, he was following the letter of the law that Congress had passed earlier this year--and now he gets blamed for denying benefits to the unemployed, when all he wants to do is make sure that the nation doesn't go further into debt (just like @JoAnn said).

    If any of you have ever seen the movie "Dave," what we might need is someone like the accountant played by Charles Grodin to come in and straighten this stuff out (if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it). Grodin's character was able to find enough money in the budget to fund government social welfare programs that were going to be cut--in other words, cut out the waste.

  29. Here is what I have to say about the bailouts. They were necessary AND came with a hefty price. There are many companies that went under because that bailout money was too costly for them to accept. This was NOT free taxpayers money, it was a loan. Hundreds of billions goes unused, but in an account that the gov cannot use for other purposes, like unemployment. Billions, last count 118B, has been paid back. If you are gonna take out a $5B loan, it is gonna take a minute to pay back and companies ARE in the process of doing just that. Without those bailouts, how many millions of people would have lost their homes, their cars and their life's savings? Now since there are hundreds of billions of dollars tied up with nobody using it, it is time to free up those funds for other things!?!?!?

  30. I love "Dave." Another movie I highly recommend is "The Distinguished Gentleman." If you liked "Dave," you'll probably like that one, too.

    I just read about an interesting experiment in "socialism." There was a professor whose class said they really liked Obama's plans, so he made an agreement with the class. After every test, he would average the scores, and that would be the grade for the entire class.

    After the first test, the average came out to a "B" I think. Those students who worked hard were upset. Those who didn't study were very happy.

    For the next test, those who were used to studying didn't study as much since it wouldn't matter. Those who weren't used to studying already saw they could get a free ride, so they still didn't study.

    Anyway, by the end, the entire class failed. There was no incentive to study, so nobody did.

    And that's where these bailouts and other forms of welfare lead. Since there's no incentive to work hard, why should anybody?

  31. Thank you for providing a healthy and open minded arena here Charles! Healthy debate is the foundation we are supposed to be built on and around.

    Thank you everyone for the positive feedback also. YES, cancer has been gone for 15 years. My "special needs" daughter is graduating high school with honors and attending college in the fall. She was not supposed to be able to perform as well athletically or scholastically as she has, however, "never say die" is more of a credo for her. Our family crest is "Je Suis Prest" or "I am ready". That is a terrific reminder to me that no matter what comes my way, I stand firm, ready, and can deal with whatever is to come my way if I think my way through and don't react with emotional distress.

    Laughter, love, and a fantastic family of cousins, dad, siblings, etc. that love me unconditionally keep me going. Instead of saying "why me", I have learned to say "Why NOT me". Be Well!

  32. It is odd how unions use that same tactic. No matter how hard you work, in order for you to get a raise, everybody, even the slackers HAVE to get a raise. But, we did that social experiment 23 years ago in our Teen Law and Current Events class in high school. It was interesting to watch those with the better study skills help those that had bad study skill, and we all ended up with a B, with very little extra effort.

    If you are the only person you are concerned for, then I understand why you have an issue with social programs. We all want three classes, we want the poor, we want the rich so we can live in the middle. Now, how many of our taxes does it take to equal Charlies taxes? Ya know he didn't get all of his money into a tax shelter.

    Social responsibilities is not equivalent to socialism. I mean, who would want public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, the foundation of socialism. Worker owned production is a very bad thing.

    And I use the word 'you' to encompass everybody that is reading this, to include myself. lotsaluv

  33. @Jo - I don't think I'll ever get all this mud off..... You?

  34. I didn’t necessarily bring up “socialism” to promote it, though it has its advantages. Individuals are responsible for their own actions, but larger influences can create a ripe climate for people to take advantage, on the top or the bottom.

    “Lessening the profit incentive” to control exploitation and corruption, or to produce fewer inequities is not parallel to the class experiment referred to by @Gitel. That experiment was unfortunate example of what is sometimes lacking in our educational system. Folks were not excited enough by their teachers or the material taught in class to want to learn. The students were concerned about “grades” and a lack motivation allegedly resulted because there was no competition. Working at an alternative college where grades were either non existent or secondary to individual learning showed me that great learning experiences can take place when there are other motivations to learn.

    That said, once ya put economic theories into practice they all seem to have their flaws. Many people on this blog want less govt. Who is going to take the reins with less govt? Big business? I’d prefer worker ownership of the means of production, to corporate executives who have a profit motive. Just talking about theory here. It just seems to be a higher calling to work for the good of the whole, in the public interest, rather than for oneself.

  35. @ Deidre...I'm still working on the mud from the election blogs! Oy vey..those were tough. This one's a walk in the park. Love ya!!

  36. What a great cross section of opinions you've gotten here,Charlie--We don't all agree, but we do respect each others' opinions and values--and we're here expressing those opinions and values because we admire and respect where you're coming from and the fact that you want only the best for everyone in this country--Keep up the good work!

  37. Thank you Lisa for bringing up unions. I once had the misfortune of working for a company controlled by a union. Illinois is not a right-to-work state, so I had to pay union dues regardless of whether or not I chose to be in the union.

    I had no say in what I earned, it was based solely on what the union said I should earn. The way the collective bargaining agreement was set up, income was based on work experience, not necessarily with that company, just work experience in general. As the youngest secretary there, I had the least experience, and therefore got paid the least.

    I was also the most in demand, because I was the only one capable of proofreading my own work. I frequently received memos from other secretaries with typos, with incomplete sentences and a total disregard for grammar. But they all got paid more.

    Fair? Was that an incentive for them to be more careful with their work, or an incentive for me not to care so much?

  38. @lisa: Not all unions behave that way. The one I belong to has annual cost-of-living increases of 1-2%, which is much lower than the rate of inflation (you might consider them to be raises, but they really are not). But in order to get promoted you have to fulfill certain professional obligations (in my case, have positive student evaluations, be active on university and department committees, and be active in the academic profession through conference presentations and publications). You cannot get a "raise" (promoted) without meeting (or, most likely, exceeding) certain standards, and there is a faculty committee that recommends applicants to the administration or rejects them (and the administration can reject applicants who have been recommended, depending upon the financial situation of the university). There have been several years when we did not even have a cost-of-living adjustment, and only faculty members who were promoted received "raises." It's all part of a collective bargaining agreement between management and labor--in my case, between the system headquarters (management) and the faculty at the universities in the system.

    Yes, there are labor unions in which the automatic raises occur, but it is something that is agreed upon by both sides at the bargaining table, not just automatically received without negotiation. If people who are "slackers" are receiving raises, it's because management agreed to it at the table. It is possible for management/owners to stipulate that certain conditions be met before raises occur (such as productivity quotas), which would prevent "slackers" from receiving automatic raises. The Screen Actors Guild (of which I'm sure Charlie is a member) is a type of union, but I'm pretty sure their contracts probably cover different things than a standard union contract (for instance, I think there is different compensation for voice over work versus acting, but I'm not 100% certain). My union contract covers salaries, benefits, working conditions, and workload, among other things.

    I'm not sure that we want to return to a time when unions did not exist (and I'm not just saying this as a union member, as there are some things my union supports that I oppose). After all, does anyone really want to return to a time when we did not have workers' compensation, minimum wages, maximum hours, health care benefits, old age pensions, or child labor laws, and the owner could fire you without cause because you spoke to someone who had merely mentioned the idea of a workers' benevolent association or a union? Workers went out on strike to obtain these benefits. In some cases, it would take more than 50 years to achieve their goals while working 12 hour shifts with one meal break (if you were lucky--sometimes your shift would be sunrise to sunset, which could vary in length depending on the time of year), developing illnesses because of poorly ventilated mine shafts, or losing their lives in industrial accidents with no compensation for their families (except maybe an expectation that your eldest son would replace you so that the family could reamin in company housing). I certainly don't want to return to those "good old days."

    And @lisa: I do agree with you that it generally works well if the stronger students help the less capable (weaker?) students learn the material. Peer learning and peer teaching can be very effective in the classrooms. But it's not something that works all the time, because some of the weaker students shine when they are working with the stronger students, while others get frustrated and give up--which then affects both groups' grades. That's why education is constantly evolving, as we keep striving to find out what works best for each individual student (sometimes in a rather humourous way on the college level).

  39. I am glad I am not the only one who despises unions Gitel. I have a friend who works for the state of Montana. Even tho she works at a hospital, she has to be a member of a union--the teachers union--and every time the teachers go on strike, she has to as well, she hates it. I understand the reason that unions developed, but once again, corruption prevailed. And from what I have observed over the last thirty years is that unions have done more harm to than good for their members--once again, only the higher officers benefiting. I think that all of us have union stories that totally screwed over the worker.

    @ Karen: I understand the era that created the need for unions, and the subsequent local, state and federal laws that have evolved from said unions, both to protect and benefit the worker. Now what protection does the union offer that isn't covered by local, state and federal laws? It has been a long time since I have heard of somebody getting fired for going to the boss and asking for a raise.

    As for 'fair' I think that most Americans value their pride over fairness. Aren't we brought up that way? We not only compete with others, but we are in constant competition with ourselves. Even those of us who say we are not competitors. We constantly strive to to better all the time. I remember when I could outwork three grown men, I was young, fit and extremely cocky. Today, I couldn't out work a ten year old. That being said, I have diverted my talents to other areas to excel, even tho I do have pity parties for things lost, I try to live in the present and continue to push myself to be better all the time. Pride.

    Now, in America, there is an exponential raise in worker-owned (Co-ops) businesses. They are not publicly traded and those that own it have the perfect incentive to push themselves, as they are the only ones sharing the profit. And it has become common practice these last two decades to offer shares to employees and part of the employment package. After all, if you own it won't you take better care of it?

  40. @lisa: Your friend might want to check on the legality of being required to join a union. According to the Taft-Hartley Act (passed in 1947), union shops (where employees are required to join a union only as part of a collective bargaining agreement) were severely restricted, and closed shops (contractual agreements that required an employer to hire only labor union members) were outlawed. My campus/system does have a faculty union, but not all faculty members are required to join. Roughly 1/4 of the faculty members on our campus, in fact, are not members of the union, and I strongly suspect that the percentage will increase if the union decides to strike after the current contract expires in July 2011. Non-members enjoy the same benefits as union members, except that they do not get the right to vote in union elections (in other words, the CBA covers all faculty members, regardless of whether or not they are union members). Some states have right-to-work laws that outlaw the union shop, but Montana is not one of them. And your friend does not have to go on strike when the union goes on strike; she does have the right to cross the picket line, and she cannot be punished in any way if she chooses to do so (there are laws to protect scabs and strikebreakers, and they cannot be penalized in matters of promotion, job reclassification, etc., or the union would face severe penalties). The union members can make her life miserable, but they will face retribution for their actions. I know this because our union came within minutes of going out on strike in 2007, and I know quite a few faculty members who were going to cross the picket line because they thought the reason for a strike was pretty stupid--including me (they wanted to go out because they hadn't gone out before; it had nothing to do with the progress of contract negotiations).
    In the case of the union I belong to, our protections include academic freedom (which is not the same as freedom of speech; it includes the right to choose the textbooks we use in our classes), grievance rights (which are only acquired through collective bargaining), and performance review and evaluation procedures (among others I cannot recall off the top of my head). None of these things are protected by law, and we occasionally do have to fend off attacks by legislators who question what we are teaching our students (and how much textbooks cost, which we cannot control). While you technically cannot be fired for going to the boss and asking for a raise, without protections acquired through collective bargaining, the boss could fire you for insubordination, and you would have to prove that you had not been insubordinate (and insubordination could include asking for a raise, because you are challenging the boss's determination of your monetary value as an employee). At least with a union, a grievance could be filed, and the boss would have to prove that you were insubordinate--in other words, in the first case you are guilty until you prove your innocence, and in the latter you are innocent until proven guilty. In my situation, without these protections faculty members could be terminated for something as simple as assigning an expensive textbook (or one they wrote) if we did not have a guarantee of academic freedom (actually, we wouldn't be fired on the spot, but we would not get tenure or get renewed--and that stigma would be on your record the rest of your life).

  41. By the way, if you think that unions should disappear because all of these gains have been made, what's to prevent these gains from disappearing once the unions no longer exist to advocate for them? While I think that the emphasis on education would prevent the elimination of child labor laws, why couldn't Congress opt to scale back workers' compensation, occupational disease compensation, minimum wage laws, etc.? After all, the Wagner Act (aka National Labor Relations Act) passed in 1935 was replaced by the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, scaling back some of the gains labor unions had made during the New Deal. Unions exist to protect the worker, although I do agree that there are instances where corruption occurs (have we found Jimmy Hoffa yet?). Union members do have the right to vote for their officers, just like registered voters have the right to vote for public officials--and, if you don't like what your union leaders are doing, you vote them out (or run for office yourself).

  42. @Kathy, You wrote,
    Am I correct in thinking that Tea Party advocates objected to extensions of unemployment because it further deepened the national debt (as Senator Jim Bunning stated when he voted against these extensions)
    To answer that, the Tea Party would never be against a person getting unemployment benefits.
    The Tea Party is mainly interested in what the government is doing or not doing. And if they are being honest, and looking out for our benefit, instead of their own.
    Hope that helps shed some light on the subject.

  43. I know you discourage this,(posting links) but this is excellent. Makes you think.

  44. @deidre: You may think this link is excellent, but it is disturbing in so many ways. First, I am not condoning the actions of the people mentioned in the article. However, what Ted Nugent said is not significantly different in tone from what Kanye West said about George W. Bush being a racist after Katrina ("George Bush doesn't care about Black people")--a comment that fellow rap artists attacked as being inaccurate. Ted Nugent has held these same views since the 1960s--why are people just now becoming outraged?

    Also, the notion that ANY African American would support lynching as a solution to anything is simply too outrageous to fathom, given the history of lynching in this country (especially the fact that over 3/4 of the people who have been lynched in the United States were African American--and the whites who were lynched often suffered this fate for either helping blacks or for opposing lynching). The author of this article might have intended it to be sarcastic, but it certainly ceased to be that way when it ventured into comments like this one.

    And, in case anyone is wondering, yes, there was a time when people of color were yelling the same things at a white president. It was in the 1960s, when there were protests against the conflict in Vietnam, race riots in several cities over the inequitable distribution of wealth (among other things), and concerns about government spending (especially the fact that far more was spent on the Vietnam conflict and the space program than on domestic reforms). There were people who supported these expressions of free speech, but once the protests became violent and lives were endangered, the federal government--mainly through the FBI--cracked down on the leaders of these movements. After all, J. Edgar Hoover did have the FBI keep a file on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., because he was perceived as a troublemaker by advocating civil rights through nonviolence--a radical stance if there ever was one.


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