Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Line of Thinking

Oh, blogworld. I heard an earful last night, while watching a bit of Fox's coverage of yesterday's tea parties. Yes, I know. I was supposed to go to bed early. But Anna Grace needed to be rocked, and I needed to get away from my thoughts.

Seems that the other networks barely covered the events, despite them being very significant in size, and quite widespread. CNN covered them using a rude reporter who dismissed the people, and the rallies, with a few terse, disgusted comments.

Our country is hotly divided, just as it was under President Bush. It wasn't Bush's fault at all, just as this time it isn't Obama's fault. With Bush, it was the war and his penchant for acting alone, and with Obama, it is bigger government spending and his penchant for bad-mouthing America while overseas, and because of his relying too heavily on the UN. I think it's just the nature of the two-party system. Roughly half the country isn't going to be happy whenever their guy or gal doesn't make the White House or Congress.

I am very concerned myself with overspending, because of our indebtedness to China. They share few, if any, of our beliefs. They are hostile toward us most of the time, and they're increasing their defense spending and becoming more of a superpower. In short, they are becoming more dangerous to us. We are putting ourselves in a very vulnerable position, in taking on so much more debt. It makes little difference who started the overspending. What's important is to understand how high the stakes are now, given China's rise. The recent stimulus and bailout bills are of the most concern, as are the budgets for the coming 8-10 years.

That said, I was nearly in tears last night when a woman from the Washington D.C. rally arrogantly threw out, "I pay my rent and my bills and I don't want to help pay anyone else's bills." The reason for my dismay? Unemployment. What's unemployment? Funded in part by the government, and in part by employers, (I assume that's how it works) it is essentially a bailout to help people through short-term financial upheaval. Its original intent was to reduce the impact of joblessness on local economies. It is helping us pay our bills, although because of Don obtaining a part-time job, we will be drawing very little from it from here on out.

There are a few cousins from my large, extended family (ten children in my mom's family - dozens of grandchildren) who have had to rely on government assistance for short periods of time. My sister is in a very bad situation right now, due to her recent divorce. Her house just sold, so she will have a cushion for a good year because of that income. After that, she will struggle mightily to pay her bills. What will happen to her, and all the other single mothers without college degrees, or experience in one of the "hot" industries?

The stance of Fox News commentators and many Republicans is that they don't mind helping the helpless, but resent helping the clueless. Where does my sister, and currently our little nuclear family, fall? Are we the helpless, or the clueless? Is my sister clueless because she chose to get a divorce? Her husband was verbally abusive for 26 years, and she reached a point where she couldn't take it anymore. She has no spiritual curiosity and handles everything in her own strength. I don't know what would have happened if she had continued to stay. I don't want to think about that. I feel terrible for her, and for her children, and wish I could help them in some way. I wish I could have prevented their pain. My sister is back in college, trying to get a teaching degree. She is not clueless, and has worked in the residential loan business for most of her adult life, taking only four years off to raise her boys.

So who are the clueless? Are they the uneducated? Or are they just the lazy? I think everybody should have the opportunity to be down on their luck, through some force outside themselves. It changes perspective powerfully. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems that cannot be understood, unless they are experienced. The main danger, I think, of joblessness, is what it does to the psyche, not to the economy. One has to have a lot of inner strength (ie. reliance on God) to be unscathed by it.

The current entitlement system in America, having been reformed by Clinton and Gingrich in the 1990's, is a good system, designed to help people get skills and decent jobs, and get on their feet. If it is altered to look more like the old system, that would be a huge problem, as the old system encouraged generational welfare.

I also look to the fact that not everybody has the gifts to make it in the lucrative fields. Working families in the social services fields will always be low-income, as will those in the childcare fields. I don't know why this is the case, since they work very, very hard. We aren't compensated for how hard we work, so much as for how much capital our industry generates. There's no question that someone has to do these lower-paying jobs. They are essential for our interconnected way of life. I suppose people in these industries aren't supposed to ever have children? They should forgo that pleasure, since they don't have good incomes? It appears that many people think along these lines. I don't know what the answer is, but I know there's something wrong with this thinking.

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