Showing posts with label Federal government of the United States. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Federal government of the United States. Show all posts

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hearting Thomas Perez (and the federal government)

The video below is a shining example of many things, primarily the reason why I heart the federal government. Thomas Perez is our Secretary of Labor and, boy oh boy, is he a character. His ruminations on the Republicans, our economy, and the people of this nation are illuminating, hilarious and insightful.

Take it away, Thomas. It's mic dropping time!!


Saturday, February 07, 2015

Red State Whining

I've put this map up before but I've had a few requests via email to put it up again. The states in red represent who gets the most government handouts and the states in blue represent who gets the least. Ironic that the states that bitch the most about the federal government get the most money. Regardless of their whining, as a resident of the state of Minnesota, I'm happy that more of my share of tax dollars help people out in these states. Why?

Because I'm a grown up:)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In today's world...indeed.

I've been meaning to point out this post over at The Moderate Voice for several months but lost track of it as election season heated up. The first paragraph grabbed me right away for obvious reasons.

There are myths proclaimed by some right-wing partisans and Ayn Rand acolytes that “rugged individualists” working alone have been responsible for America’s great accomplishments and that government is the enemy of progress. In their quest to reduce taxes, particularly for the wealthy, and cut the size of government, this myth has been promulgated by ideologues to gain support from the middle-class, needed to elect legislators who share their vision.

Yeah, and the American people recognized those myths for what they were 12 days ago.

Businesses could not function without the nation’s infrastructure (though it currently needs work). Building the interstate highway system, bridges and tunnels and maintaining them, was and is a federal concern. The integrity of America’s ports and airports, and air traffic control, all comes under the aegis of federal agencies. Products and people could not move if it were not for the government. Apportioning the broadcast spectrum for TV, radio, cell phone companies and so forth, insuring the safety of transmission lines, pipelines, and so forth, are all functions of the federal government. 

In short, they didn't build that. Not that the government isn't completely wonderful, though.

The federal government is inefficient in many of its operations, but its expansion has occurred during both Democratic and Republican administrations. Those who rail against the government should focus on fixing it and not just making it smaller so they can pay less in taxes. And the money saved should go to paying down the deficit. For different reasons, both the weak and strong among us need a robust federal government in today’s world. 

In today's world...indeed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Government Created Wealth

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching a documentary about the Grand Coulee Dam. It was part of PBS's American Experience series that I have enjoyed for many, many years. Here is the program in its entirety and I recommend watching the whole thing before you comment on the rest of this post.  

Watch Grand Coulee Dam on PBS. See more from American Experience.

My initial awe at what went into this project and the enormously positive outcome gave way to a profound sadness because a project like this could never happen today. Why? Because "the GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.." (Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein)

Before the dam's construction, the likely ancestors of the Tea Party behaved in a similar fashion as described by Mann and Ornstein, shouting all too familiar cries of dissent. Proponents of the dam were called "crackpots" and "Coulee Communists." Big private power interests fought fiercely against it. Collier's magazine downgraded Grand Coulee and, as the structure rose higher, it was labeled as "socialistic, impractical dam-foolishness." Even experts, engineers and geologists debated its usefulness. The president of the American Society of Civil Engineers branded Coulee as "a grandiose project of no more usefulness than the pyramids of Egypt." A Spokane paper sneered. "Baron Munchausen," it said, referring to the legendary liar, "thou wert a piker."

They were all wrong.

The Grand Coulee Dam, a taxpayer funded, government project, resulted in millions of dollars for the defense industry (60,000 planes and the creation of plutonium-239 were built using the power from the dam) and an explosion of agriculture in the state of Washington due to irrigation of a once arid, massive area of land in the Northwest. In fact, it provides irrigation to 2,000 farms in the area. The Grand Coulee Dam is one of the top produces in the country of hydro-electric power.Entire towns...economies...grew up around the building of the dam as thousands of people and a massive amount of materials were needed in its construction. The entire region was changed and became very prosperous as a result of the dam.

So, the Grand Coulee Dam is an example of how the government can create wealth. I realize this is sacrilege  for the right wingers out there but the facts are the facts. So, why again can't we do something like this today?

Looking deeper than the reasons I listed above, one becomes even more confused. Economic conditions were worse back in the 1930s. Unemployment was higher. The private sector had been shown to be a collection of greedy buffoons who were, in essence, addicted to gambling and using the nation's (really, the world's) economic structure as collateral. People put their faith in government and it paid off. The same thing should be able to happen today, right?

No. Because the last 30 years have seen a systematic attack on the institution of government that is so profoundly inaccurate...that I fear the national perception is forever changed. Even as little as two years ago, I have caught myself saying (in derision), "Well, this must be a government operation." It's become part of our zeitgeist to hate the government and yet we so desperately need its structure and organizational principles right now to get ourselves out of this sluggish funk. Combine this with near worship we have of the real Gordon Gekkos of our country and our federal government doesn't stand a chance.

Yet, it's terribly obvious that the private sector is not going to be able to improve our economy on its own. Their motivation is for profit. That's great when you are exclusively operating in the free market. As we have seen far too many times, the free market isn't a universal panacea for all things economical. This is especially true because the government...our government and the governments of the world...are partners in the economy. They have to be because governments can sometimes improve market outcomes. And the Grand Coulee Dam is an excellent example of exactly how this works.

President Obama has been trying to do this for the last 3 1/2 years and has been massively derided for it. He's a "big government liberal" who wants to blah blah blah...have any of the people who say this ever taken the time to see the results of a project like Grand Coulee?

In truth, we don't even have to do something as massive as the Grand Coulee Dam to get our economy moving again. We could simply start with a massive repair plan for our nation's highways and bridges. That would put people to work which would, in turn, generate revenue for the government and the private sector. In essence, I'm talking about the president's jobs plan. 

Of course, the Republicans will never pass anything that could signal a success for the president in an election year. To put it simply, they, like the detractors of the Grand Coulee Dam, have a vested interest in the failure of such policies which essentially means they have a vested interest in the failure of our economy.

And, since the perception of our government is not what it was in 1933, they may very well succeed.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Operation: Brainwash (Heroification)

Most of you know that I am a big fan of James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me. In that book, he discusses how American History is taught using a number of poor methods and concepts. One such concept is heroification. He uses the excellent example of President Woodrow Wilson, a figure who is regarded in most history textbooks as a hero. In fact, President Wilson was probably the biggest bigot our country had ever seen, overturning decades of progress made by the Republicans in respect to rights and advancement of African Americans. The image of Wilson by our nation is one of the many great lies in our country's history.

Another great lie is one that got started by Ann Coulter and is now policy according to the Texas State Board of Education. Essentially, it's this: Joe McCarthy was a hero. Coulter said:

Everything you think you know about McCarthy is a hegemonic lie. Liberals denounced McCarthy because they were afraid of getting caught, so they fought back like animals to hide their own collaboration with a regime as evil as the Nazis.

Caught in what, exactly? Oh yes, that's right...anyone to the left of the Cult is a commie. Got it. It's also amusing that she brings up hegemony. The raison d'etre of the Cult is control through blind consensus. Once again, we see the Rove in action.

But this view of McCarthy is exactly what Texas school children are now going to he was a hero fighting against (in his own words) the treasonous Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. They will learn of a US government filled with dirty, stinking Commies many of whom "got away" and remained in the form of the Democratic party. None of this, of course, is even close to being grounded in reality.

Coming a few years after we defeated the greatest army and threat the world had ever seen, McCarthy accused the Democrats of "twenty years of treason." He added twenty one after Eisenhower refused to acquiesce to McCarthy's demands. His paranoia knew no bounds as he went after the United States military. In one hearing he called Brigadier General Ralph W. Zicker, a WWII battlefield hero, a "five year old child not fit to wear the uniform." Ironic, considering McCarthy's outright lying about his own military record. His investigations into the US military turned the tide of public opinion well against him and his rampant alcoholism began to show in his Senate floor speeches. In fact, his constant changing numbers of how many communists were in the US government from the very beginning were evidence enough of his severe impairment and inability to think clearly.

None of this matters to that chapter of the Cult that has now changed the curriculum in Texas and perhaps nationwide. Commies were everywhere (ahh!!!!!!! look out...he looks funny...commie!!!) and still are. No matter that McCarthy was shown to be a liar very early on..he said pretty things so we loves him:) One need only spend a few minutes reading McCarthy's quotes to see that he was, in a myriad of ways, a founding father (along with Richard Nixon) of the Cult playbook. Say it and it's true...attack your opponent with what is, in fact, your greatest weakness (see the forthcoming comments below for what will be excellent examples of this), ignore facts, think with your guts and, above all, distrust anyone who doesn't think EXACTLY like you do. Joe McCarthy spawned the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. It's no wonder they are fighting tooth and nail to re-imagine him in history. All three of them, as well as the Cult, are still paranoid about Commies (ahh!!! Commies!!!) even years after communism FAILED and whatever remnants are left (save North Korea) are embracing capitalism or some quasi form of it.

I stated previously that I am nauseated by the clear heroification of McCarthy. Honestly, that's not much redeemable about him. Rarely do secondary school texts get it right when it comes to wrongdoing but the American Pageant does in their McCarthy entry. I wonder how many of the facts listed there will be completely left out. Ah well, no matter. Anyone critical of a Cult forefather is a lying Commie which would include yours truly. Cue the red herring of Venona.

As an educator, I am tasked to present the basic facts of what happened in any historical period. To leave out McCarthy's lying, alcoholism, assault on civil liberties, and attacks on distinguished members of the military like George Marshall would be historically dishonest. It would be like showing the happy go lucky side of Stalin and skip over the whole gulag thing. Stalin was an asshole who murdered people. McCarthy was an asshole who destroyed people's lives due to a psychosis that forced an ideology on people. This ideology has now morphed into a faux critical thinking devoid of reality.

Yet I would still be more interested, given all of the facts about McCarthy and what the Cult will now be teaching in Texas, what my students think about Joe McCarthy and why. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what my view is or what the Texas School Board's view is regarding McCarthy. It matters what they think and how they evaluate the facts.

Since close to 5 million students in Texas and perhaps more nation wide will be missing key facts, critical thinking skills have been hijacked. And that's the real fucking travesty.
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