Polls; Panoply of America’s Age of Unreason

American Failure in Education, Reason- Moyers, Susan Jacoby

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

He is up.  He is down!  Thankfully, the opposition says, “Soon he will be out of favor and ultimately out of office!” If voters do not remove the renegade from his prestigious position, term limits certainly will do him in.  Liberal loyalists assert; President Obama is not the problem.  Congress is the cruel joke. It seems no matter the political persuasion, citizens of this country find someone to fault.  Surely, societal ills are thrust upon the public by an outside force.  Regardless, of whether the electorate places the onus on an individual, an industry, the nation’s Chief Executive, or other government officials, the oft-heard battle cry in the Age of America’s Unreason is someone else is to blame.  The American people do not imagine themselves responsible for inertia.

This stark reality is perhaps most apparent in daily Presidential polls.  The Commander-In-Chief has a single four-year term to prove himself competent.  In truth, in the United States, the “first hundred days” determines how many minefields a President has managed to avoid.  The second turn of the calendar indicator follows closely behind.  If the Chief Executive has not proven himself golden in six months, his fate might be sealed.  Witness the woeful popularity numbers the Press reports most fervently.

In the Information Era, within a matter of weeks, an amplified and somewhat shallow assessment of American speciousness was available for all to see.  Periodicals and pundits alike announced, statistically speaking Mister Obama’s personal magnetism is no longer viable.  His favorable numbers have fallen drastically. The American people are not swayed by speeches.   Nor do the plans the President submits speak to the general public.

The count was first publicized in early July.  Ohio citizens were given an opportunity to express their disdain aloud in an early public opinion Quinnipiac University poll.  

In Michigan, a locality which, for years, has been mired in a “one State recession” skepticism has never waned.  While a bit more hopeful after the 2008 election, constituents from this Great Lakes region remained cautious.  By mid-July it became apparent, Mister Obama’s every promise would be scrutinized.  How could a population so severely depressed do much else.

By early August the raw data showed citizens countrywide were doubtful that Barack Obama was the correct choice. The public rated his job performance poor.  National Public Radio reported the results of a nationwide survey. By then, it was obvious; that the honeymoon lasted less than six months.  Indeed, it seemed, the registered voters, interviewed by a bipartisan panel, did not support the Administration’s plans.  His policies were deemed a failure.  A whopping forty-two percent of American’s stated they did not approve of Obama performance in office.  Perchance, many anxious Americans in the Age of Unreason were ready for a divorce.

For some, the “Recovery” plan did not revive the economy as promised. Others fear the Health Care coverage options the President has put forth will be catastrophic to them and their families.

The stimulus package did not serve to satisfy the people in the areas of the country hardest hit by the economic downturn. Information that conflicts with raw rants does nothing to confirm slow yet substantive successes.  For the more vocal masses, the Recovery plan offered no relief for the Middle Class.  As the summer wanes, so too does support for the President. In the American Era of emotional Evaluations it appears, there is consensus.  The Obama White House has not helped improve the economy.  Countrywide, citizens clamor.  Change has not come.  

Chants, cheers and jeers are palpable  “Candidate Obama’s commitments were only political ploys.”  The latest polls illustrate, Independents and Republicans who once felt they could trust the Illinois Statesman, now believe he is no better than all the other politicians.  Driven by emotional elucidations, Americans rationalize Presidents have an omnipotent power.  The conventional wisdom is the people need only vote for a person with the Audacity to Hope. That person will inspire a nation to move mountains.  He [or perhaps she] will make my life better.  “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead” is the rally cry during a political campaign.

However, sadly, during the post election season reality set in .  Faith faded swiftly.

This angst is expressed as distress.  Anyone in a position of power is thought to be a disappointment to persons whose pocketbooks are empty and by the affluent who now may earn a bit less than they would like to.  The President of the United States, this time Barack Obama is thought to be responsible for all that is wrong with America.

Reactions, what we the people do as a result of what occurs, may reveal an irrationality all American’s possess. In this civilized country, personal attacks are the preferred means for engagement.  Through film, theatre, and television, residents in urban and rural environs have been trained to seek quick answers.  In these mediums, a story can be introduced, involve an audience, and offer a resolution, all within twenty-two [22] minutes.

Advertisers, more prevelant post World War II, understand that the medium is the message.  A product can be sold within four [4] seconds.  Anger can be generated just as quickly

The cost for immediate gratification and irritation is dear.  Since the 1950s, credit has help to satiated urgent desires.  Americans have been inured to habitually react.  The population proclaims, “Do it now or do not do it at all.”  “If you cannot turn down the heat, get out of our kitchen.”

As is characteristic in the Age of Unreason, if there is a perceived problem, the President, Congress, City Hall, or whoever might be deemed liable for the public’s pain, will receive the brunt of an American’s wrath.

One might hear the calls wherever he or she may live.  Many amongst the electorate anxiously await the day voters will be able to once again “Kick the bums out.”  Republicans may rage.  Independents become more impatient.

Progressive persons propose that the lack of follow through is not the fault of Barack Obama.  Individuals who still wish to believe that they are Organizing For America place the onus on Congress.  Their rant, “Representatives in each political Party are the problem.”  Independents, Republicans, and those who lean Left have reached in accord; “Invoke term limits,” they shout.

Accepted American adages in these less than reflective times are a constant.  Turn on the television and hear, “If you cannot get with the program, then, get the Hades out.”  Stand on a street corner and listen; “You are either with us or against us.” Stroll down the avenue and someone will screech, “Move on” or be mowed over.  In the States, there is no patience for a slow progression.  Ignorance, lack of full knowledge, and unawareness can lead to actions born  in haste.  People in the United States have no time to waste.  Attention spans are very short in the Age of Unreason.  In this nation, the blame game is popular, more so than the President, elected Representatives, proposed plans and public policy.

Thus we see the repeated tallies. As the two-hundred day term ends, the number of dissatisfied Americans rise.  The President’s standing falls.  Fault is easily found; that is everyone is to blame for what ails this country, except the unreasonable citizens who wait for someone else to fix what the people choose to let stand.

Again and again, the American people do not think they are responsible for the nation’s inertia.  Only others are onerous. Thus, he is up.  He is down, and the people are one more time out of luck.

Please ponder the video presentation; American Failure in Education, Reason – Moyers, Susan Jacoby, or peruse the transcripts, The Age of American Unreason.  Please reflect on responsibility.  If you would, contemplate the reality; the President, prominent persons in Congress, paid Lobbyists, and persuasive corporations do not have the power that the people possess. If only the public truly chose to be the change they wish to see.

References for Unreason . . .

The Free Market


copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

A child shrieks.  Her fever is high; it has been for days.  As the time passes, her condition worsens.  Blood, sweat, and tears roll down the little girl’s cheek.  Her mother gently, strokes the tot’s forehead.  The loving parent, who lost her job a month earlier, knows there is little else she can do.  Spare dollars, she has none.  Change has not come.  Without health insurance or an income, this woeful woman believes she can only lean forward and say, “Honey, everything will be all right.”  The free market will take care of us.

The mother recalls the sentiment of her former employer.  Reluctantly, as the reality of the recession set in, he closed the shop he owned for more than two decades.  He tried to console his tearful staff and himself.  Sorrowfully, he said, “The free market will take care of us.”  

Would the free market care for a sick child or a workforce ill with grief?  Might the free market offer job insecurity, a benefit lost long ago?  Could or would the free market ever calculate the  number of unemployed and underemployed who do not appear in the statistics sited.  American society is economically sick.  Spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.

In America, an adult man cries out in pain.  Emotionally he is distressed, economically depressed.  Although he is highly educated, and was esteemed in his field, today, he too cannot claim to be gainfully employed, at least not any more.  Ego aside, monetarily he has lost it.  He never imagined he would be out of work, let alone for this long.  On the radio and television he hears, Republicans in Congress feel they were “left out” when the economic jobs bill was drafted.  He knows not whether to laugh or cry.  

“No one asked me if I might be included in decisions that directly affect my life,” the woeful, out of work mister muses.  “Left out?”  The man, who once made a six-figure salary, is now left out in the cold.  This once successful gentleman cannot pay his mortgage.  The bank has foreclosed on his home.  His future is grim.  Spare dollars, he has none.  Change has not come.

Yet, persons sheltered from a physical and financial storm speak of the extraordinary system that made America a superpower.  Those opposed to the stimulus package proposed by the President of the United States believe the free market will take care of us.  Nothing needs to be done.  The job market will improve some time soon.  This crisis is but a blip.

Information from the Conference Board, a global, independent membership organization that delivers knowledge about management and the marketplace, is but a sign of our current recession.

Two million job losses are predicted for 2009; 2.6 million were lost in 2008.  There is no need to worry.  For now, spare dollars, Americans have none.  Change has not come.  Nonetheless, we can be certain Centrists and those on the Right believe, “The free market will take care of us.”  

Those most affected by a long time lack of regulations, the people who did not benefit from a free market mentality, whimper, and wail.  For them, this economic crisis began near a decade ago.  Deregulation dominated and a monetary downfall was delivered.  Those desperate for change to come understand, citizens of what was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world, lost employer benefits years before they received a pink slip.  

Few average Americans have been able to send their children to college for decades.  Without constraints, the cost of a University education has increased 268 percent over the last thirty years.  

The housing bubble did not suddenly burst this past September.  The fragile foundation that held up the American economy was shaky long before the commercial real estate market felt the quake.

These common folks plead with the Administration.  They say, as they did during the two-year Presidential campaign,  “Spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.”!

Faces flushed with despair delivered their message this Fall.  They waited to vote.  When the free market did not take care of them, they elected an Administration they hoped would.  

Today, these persons wail.  The woe has worsened.  The White House hears their cries.  The new President asks Legislators to shed a tear for their constituents.  Each Senator and Congressperson swears they do.  However, some howl for voters who live in luxury homes.  Others sob for those who have nothing left.  Each declares; spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.

In quiet moments, anyone in this country might be victim to the inertia weighing heavily on Americans.  No one is sure what tomorrow might bring, monetarily.  Countless workers fear they may be next in an unemployment line.  Small business owners, squeezed, ponder the possibility of a financial failure  Even bellwether Blue Chip companies feel the pinch.  Dividend dollars will not be paid to investors.  More companies are likely to fail.  Reports are fifteen (15) Companies Might Not Survive 2009.

Throughout America, tears and fears flourish.  The free market has taken care of us all.  It is debatable whether a lack of government regulations has done this country well.  Indeed, those in Congress deliberate.

In the countryside, there is agreement; misery multiplies.  Most would say “There is no pain-free cure for Recession.”  Consensus amongst the citizenry and members of Congress could be, “It is time for all of us to tighten our belts.”  Americans now spend less, save more, and sob as they anxiously await relief.  

Wunderkinds on Wall Street maintain; “This too shall pass.”  Persons on Main Street are concerned that they, or their progeny, might pass before any evidence of prosperity is realized.  Centrists in Congress crouch in the corner.  They remain proud, possibly calmed by the knowledge that they can insist that the Administration must, as Nobel Prize recipient, Economist, Paul Krugman states be  “comforting [of] the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted.” Thus, “the Destructive Center,” also a term coined by Mister Krugman, will preserve the status quo, and stimulate a more catastrophic economic slump.  

In the name of the free market, more taxes will be cut.  Less regulations on businesses and banks will be realized.  Average Americans, in greater numbers, will walk to soup kitchens, sell trinkets that were once treasures, tend to loved ones who are injured, ill, and without medical coverage. Common citizens in the country will cry out.  Rather than hear the pleas of the poor and the newly impoverished, members of Congress, those who are well-off, the financially secure, and steadfast will say, “The free market will take care of us all!”

References for Recession . . .

Somewhere in America

Senate delay on stimulus ‘irresponsible’: Obama

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Somewhere in America, a man loses the job he has held for more than thirty years.  Somewhere in America, a woman cleans out the office she had occupied for close to a decade.  Elsewhere in the United States, a teen unsuccessfully tries to find work.  He knows he needs to help his Mom and Dad; each toiled in the factory that closed just down the street.  A young woman searches for a professional position, just as she has for the two years since she graduated form the University.  Each of these individuals is not startled by the headline, Economy Shed 598,000 Jobs in January.    All ask, where have the “experts,” Economists, and elected officials been?  

There is a stark reality barely revealed in this report. For the many who live somewhere in America, the statistic is not news.  It is the culmination of life or strife as it has been in the United States for a long time.  Countless experience the misery of an economic crisis that consumes them.  There is no joy in jobs lost or the threat of more layoffs to come.

What occurs most every moment, somewhere in America is the reason President Obama stated in his recent address, this country needs a stimulus package now, not tomorrow, not in a week, or in a month.  At least, “3.6 million Americans  . . . wake up every day wondering how they are going to pay their bills, stay in their homes, and provide for their children.  That’s 3.6 million Americans who need our help.”

What the President does not say is that these numbers represent only the persons we know of.

Somewhere in America, in a rural residence, children cry.  There is no food in the cupboard.  Mom, who is the sole supporter in this family, has been out of work for months.  Dad, too depressed, left his loved ones long ago.  He labored part-time for years.  When the economic downturn began, in 2007, he realized he could not even count on temporary employment.  Nor can the young one who hopes to enter college; she understands “career path” may be a euphemism from the past.  Today in America, the streets are not golden.

As Senators and Congresspersons, all of whom are gainfully employed, bicker, and build an Economic Stimulus Bill filled with pork, and, or tax cuts that benefit only the rich, somewhere in America, a mother cannot buy food for her son.  A single father, without a High School diploma, wonders how he might hold on to his factory job and still adequately prepare his daughter for school.  Somewhere in this great country, educational institutions go without textbooks.  Perhaps, it matters not, the students cannot read.

Somewhere in America, a cancer patient is refused treatment, for, although he has insurance, the policy will not cover the costs.  

A firefighter is given a furlough.  In California, State workers are forced to take  an unpaid leave.  Somewhere in America, a  plan to bring recovery to America cannot wait.

Elsewhere in this country, citizens, the few secure in their circumstances, argue over the proposed stimulus package. Certain that all is well, at least for them, these affluent Americans say the situation is not dire.  They encourage their Representatives not to sign on to a incentive measure that might spend money on other than they, personally, think right.  Meanwhile, somewhere in the United States, a family in the frozen Midwest is thrown out on the cold streets.  The mortgaged house, the five had lived in for near a score, went into foreclosure.  

In a country, where the words “economic crisis” is not hyperbole, few wish to help move the nation forward.  People rather quarrel.  Free speech is fun for those who still feel safe.  Today, the public does not ponder the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota two summers ago.  August 2007, was eons ago.  The public does not hear the stressful sounds of a viaduct ready to crumble.  The roar of engines is too loud, or perhaps, when the conversation turns to fiscal responsibility the screams from silly squabbles drown out the noise steel makes when it bends and breaks.

People plump with power, profits, or an ideology can safely ignore federal government studies that show “Nearly a quarter of the nation’s roughly 600,000 major bridges carry more traffic than they were designed to bear,”  When an American lives elsewhere in America, it may matter not that  the “Federal Highway Administration data from 2006 shows that 24.5 percent of the nation’s bridges longer than 20 feet were categorized as “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete” (data from Utah and New Mexico was from 2005).”

Rarely do individuals reflect on what does not affect them directly.  Many are happy to refuse to see what is invisible to their eyes let alone the reality numbers might represent.  Empathy, elsewhere in America can be elusive.

People who have a roof over their heads rather rant.  Those who toddle off to the office much prefer to rage.  It is “pork” they say.  The Obama stimulus plan is nothing but needless government-funded expenditures.  “Taxes must be cut;” screech the tycoons and venture Capitalists.  These influential persons of means make telephone calls.  The rich reach out and touch Republican and Democratic Legislators alike.  Why?  Because they can.  Powerful persons have access, the privilege of the affluent.  The plight that occurs somewhere in America is alien to them.

Insulated and isolated, the wealthy worry not.  Elsewhere, many in the Middle Class cannot imagine what it must be like to live somewhere in America.  Most do not believe an economic catastrophe will become a personal truth.

Those whose children are enrolled in private schools, or in public school out in the suburbs subsidize their progeny’s education.  They wonder why others cannot.  Perchance these individuals have not traveled to somewhere in America.  Persons whose families are well-funded, who hear, and see no evil on the streets of this nation, do not imagine that somewhere in America might ever be where they live.  

These citizens, comfy, cozy, and content with what is, have no need for the Head Start programs now cut from the stimulus package.  Education for the Disadvantaged, another program now eliminated from the Bill, will not have an effect on friends or family of the economically-established.  Persons who have the ability to care for their own do not understand the plight of those they have never encountered.

Thus, they exclaim, the “fat” must be removed from the stimulus package, and so it is.  

School improvement stipends were removed from the proposed fiscal plan.  These critical contributions, in a  country, which ranks low, or last, in many categories of learning seems unnecessary.  Child Nutrition grants are lavish in the minds of the physically and financially satiated.  Surely, the well-off say, there is no need for such remunerations.  

Individuals who are safe and sane do not wish to sponsor programs such as Funds for Violence Against Women.  These planned provisions were erased from the proposition.  Persons not in harm’s way questioned why would society wish to assist those ladies who did not chose their companion wisely.  

Food Stamps surely are wasteful spending, say the scornful and satiated.

These same persons are happy to see an end to what they think exploitive expenditures.  Dollars expected to be doled out to The National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA, National Science Foundation NSF, and the Western Area Power Administration were also expunged from the package.

Firefighters are now forsaken. Cash for the Coast Guard was deemed redundant.  Payments for better prisons, are said to be decidedly pointless.  Community Oriented Policing Services COPS Hiring programs, are among the allowances that have been cut.  Apparently, community safety is not critical, at least not for those who think private industry better cares for any communal needs.  

That may be why these same individuals decided dollars devoted to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC were also wanton.  Certainly, these would not stimulate the economy.

Perchance, the persons who live elsewhere in the United States, do not realize that cash spent on services contributes to jobs somewhere in America.

Possibly, the prosperous do not recall that poverty produces greater poverty.  Persons who love to engage in arguments, think it fun to find fault with each and every point,   These individuals, whose intention is to wrangle, do not wish to acknowledge, as Nobel Prize winner and Princeton Professor of Economics and National Affairs does in his most recent NewYork Times column.  “As the great American economist Irving Fisher pointed out almost 80 years ago, deflation, once started, tends to feed on itself.”

As dollar incomes fall in the face of a depressed economy, the burden of debt becomes harder to bear, while the expectation of further price declines discourages investment spending.  These effects of deflation depress the economy further, which leads to more deflation, and so on.”

Hence, as a country we stand still.  Democrats and Republicans are divided.  Congress cannot or will not decide to support an authentic stimulus package.  Policymakers will do as they have always done, dicker, and deliver little.  What may ultimately pass will likely be more irresponsible than it might have been.  

When somewhere in America is not where you are; nor is it a place you chose to imagine as real, then you do not reflect upon the parent who has not had a paycheck for years, or the child who cries out for a but a mere morsel of food.  Sadly, somewhere in America, for members of Congress, and for citizens comfortable in their circumstances, is a place far, far, far, away.  

In truth, were the quarrelsome to look out their window, they might see, somewhere in America is right next door.

Sources for Somewhere in America . . .

President Obama’s Agenda

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

It is amazing to me how the Republicans and all of their right-wing friends are trying to minimize the total repudiation they and their policies received at the hands of the electorate. According to these “objective” viewers there was no political realignment. The fact that Obama carried states that hadn’t been carried by a Democrat in years and put into play states that had been lost to Democrats for a generation does not mean that there was a redrawing of the electoral map according to these illustrious men.

Their goal is simple to try and keep President Obama and the Democrats from enacting any sweeping legislation, instead hoping that they stay small and do little if anything. My guess is that they hope by trying these scare tactics and keeping the Dems thinking small that in four years if they accomplish little or nothing the Republicans can highlight how a majority Party did nothing to help the voters that elected them.

The Republicans contempt for the intelligence of the American people is infinite. It was only a few years ago that a man who garnered 271 and 286 electoral college votes in two successive elections had a mandate to suspend Habeas Corpus rights, expand government with giveaways to his cronies, and privatize Social Security with their blessings. So I guess based on their logic you only have a mandate and realignment if it meets their criteria and supports their agenda.

This talk is why they are becoming more and more irrelevant. I am all for enlisting the support of all Americans for the monumental tasks that we face, but you don’t just get your butt kicked and then try to drive the car; you are lucky to be in the car! What these clowns refuse to see is the same reason they have lost touch with the majority of the American voters and lost the election. When it comes to the major issues facing the American public, they’ve got nothing. This is not the country they thought it was and they can’t accept it.

If I were advising President Obama and the Dems I would advise them to go big and go fast. Strike the iron while it is hot. I would begin with a stimulus package for the poor and the middle-class. I would force the banks to use the bail-out money for what it was designed for to make loans, not to buy other banks.

I would then resubmit the SCHIPs healthcare program for children. I would propose funds for states and local governments to ride through this economic crisis and to begin to do the badly needed infrastructure repair. I would look to pass the union registration legislation. I would begin to realign our armed forces to reflect the true nature of the dangers we face. I would invite the UN back into Iraq and give them some real authority to help and stabilize that government. I would then send my diplomats to embark on a worldwide tour to reassure the world that we do respect the world and want to be a part of it again. I would state unequivocally that the United States does not condone torture against anyone. I would enact a 10-year energy plan to make us completely oil free by 2019. I would reinstate and expand the Pell Grant program to help families pay for college for those who are willing and qualified to go. After consultations, I would develop a program to provide healthcare for the millions of Americans who currently don’t have it.

I know that this is a lot to chew on, but we have to remember what George W. and his greedy assed friends have left us with. We must mitigate the vastness of this Depression that we are facing, not wait until we are in the middle of it but while we can make a difference. I also understand that this still leaves plenty of other badly needed things unaddressed, but that was only the first day.

We must not allow the naysayers and the small minded to diminish the scope of the critical programs that we need. Of course there will be shouts from the Right about the deficit and big spending liberals, but we must remember we have tried it their way and it didn’t work. A temporary allowance of deficit spending in the middle of a “recession” is not abnormal. Of course they would want us to do nothing because they will be able to ride out the storm and they could use the pain of those who would truly be suffering to rise back to power.

We also have to remember that this generation cannot sustain suffering. If this were a couple of generations ago we would just roll-up our sleeves and get it done, however this generation has not known suffering and hardship and frankly I don’t think they could handle it. They will require more support and coddling than their grandparents. So, there is much to be done and doing it piecemeal is not going to do it. We must strike hard, strike large, and strike fast…

One thing is sure.

We have to do something.

We have to do the best we know how at the moment… If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.

~Franklin D. Roosevelt