Saturday, October 22, 2011

OWS-The Citizens Finally Run Out of Patience

The greed of the financial sector, the ignorance of the ideologues, and the unimaginable incompetence of the 111th and 112th Congress has been causing excruciating pain to American citizens for almost three years. We could not be expected to quietly accept this situation indefinitely. A common sense Congress could have defused the situation by correcting obvious errors and sincerely addressing the underlying problems. Unfortunately the guilty parties have refused to offer serious solutions.

The nearest opportunity for citizens to replace many of the current non performing members of Congress through elections is over 12 months away. Continuance of the current ineffectiveness by Congress is longer than the citizens could wait. Thus a far reaching global protest movement has become activated. The movement is serious, and growing at an explosive rate around the world. It has been joined by numerous additional organizations. Initiated by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protest movement it has as its battle cry the taking away financial and political power from the self serving portion of 1% of the population and returning democratic control to the 99%. Polls show that this concept is strongly supported by the majority of middle class citizens.

No one knows where these protests will lead. At this time they are wisely adamant about remaining independent of political parties. The organization has not been in place long enough to present a code of demands but one is being prepared. I saw a listing of eight demands that were being suggested for inclusion by one protester. All were legitimate, practical, and addressed needed actions. Some were addressed to laws already passed that were nullified through congress cutting funds to the intended enforcing agency. One demand dictated that all laws passed by Congress would apply equally to them as to the citizens. Reducing the influence of unlimited money and special interests on the democratic process was an important theme.

The protests are definitely legitimate and aimed at correcting the overreach practices by the established institutions that is damaging our country and our democracy. They should have been corrected long ago by Congress. It is extremely important that real progress on the major issues happens while the protests are controlled by citizens strongly motivated by patriotism and democracy. This will require the elimination of many practices of the financial and political systems.

I suggest you follow the protests closely. Read and understand the demands when they are presented. Offer advice and criticism. Be prepared to resist the forthcoming propaganda assault by those who brought us down to the current state.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

American Jobs Act Update

On September 5, 2011, after over 2 yr years of recession and 14 million citizens still unemployed the President announced a $447 billion American Jobs bill which included $140 billion in infrastructure construction work. On September 13 this blog applauded the bills’ focus for finally providing direct help to the middle class. We concluded, however, that it could only pass the current Congress if forced to by strong public support.

On September 20, 2011 Gallup released the results of a detailed public opinion poll on the citizen’s response to the bill. It was overwhelmingly favorable for the bill. The infrastructure element was favored by 72% of the citizens polled. A blow-out 80% favored an accompanying tax deduction for small businesses. The reference covers the results by element and political party affiliation.

It is now October 5 and in spite of numerous presentations by the President the bill has not been submitted to either house by party leaders. No target dates have been set. (Of course, the Congress did have a week of vacation to get in). On Sept 28 the Democrats announced that they don’t have the votes for passage in the Senate and won’t bring the issue to a vote until they do. Republican leaders in the house have called the bill “campaigning” and have not announced a date when they would bring it up for debate,--if they do it at all. Today they announced it DOA.

With trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure work to be done and 14 million American citizens out of work you would think that leaders of both parties would be all over each other to work out a plan. They should want to flood the country with projects that would get the citizens off unemployment and back to value-added work. But you would be wrong.

The question is why would the US Congress prefer to write unemployment checks and watch our infrastructure crumble than provide productive value-added work to its citizens? My only observation is that this is the expected behavior of our current Congress. This is exactly why the latest Gallup poll shows citizen approval of Congressional job performance is down to13% and 9% with Independents.

There are many studies which point to the benefits of an immediate national infrastructure plan. On March 5, 2011 the New America Foundation released a widely distributed evaluation estimating that our inadequate infrastructure was costing the nation more than $192 billion a year in wasted fuel consumption, lost time, additional handling and other delays. As a specific example, this article by USA Today discusses the waste and additional costs that inadequate infrastructure is causing the grain export business.

It is apparent that there are ideologues and special interests that do not want the act to pass, but in view of the public support are afraid to be seen voting against it. Hence every delaying trick available will be pulled to avoid a vote.

What can the citizens do to force a vote when Congress refuses to even consider an issue that is so important to the citizens? Although national referendums are common in municipalities and states there is no mention of them in the constitution. (The Founding Fathers apparently never considered the possibility of incompetence at the level we now have.) In the short term we have only the advisory force of public opinion as determined by the countless political polls. In the longer term we have our 2012 election where we have the opportunity to replace all of the Representatives and one third of the Senators.

Keep up the pressure. What are your representatives doing?