Sep 232008

I fully intended to start this post off by talking about how I usually don’t talk about politics, but then I realized I’d sound like everyone else in the blogosphere recently who has posted about how they usually don’t talk about politics and proceeded to do so.  We’re less than two months away from a Presidential election.  Like it or not, we all talk about politics at one point or another.  The question becomes whether or not we wish to actually have an open and honest debate on the subject or if we’re so mired in our own beliefs that we cannot even hear an opposing view without feeling threatened our taking it personally.

For the record, that’s generally why a lot of folks who decide to post about politics start with “I don’t usually talk about politics.”  It’s a security blanket.  If you attack them for their views they can draw it around themselves and make you look like the bad guy.  “See!  You’re the reason I don’t post about this stuff!”

So yeah, I was gonna start with that.  I was going to use that security blanket.  But I decided not to do so because, frankly, if someone can come up with a rational answer for my questions and concerns I’m all about it.  Explain this shit to me, because right now there’s a whole lot going on out there that just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I mentioned this recently on my Twitter feed, but I’ll pose the question here again – How is it that falling gas and oil prices are now a bad thing?  I know to you and me they aren’t but, but apparently the fact that crude oil prices are dropping is one of many signs that the economy is in trouble.  Eerily enough, I tried to link back to the article where I read this confusing message, but all I can find now is stuff about how the falling oil prices are great – or they were, anyway.  Now they’ve spiked $25 a barrel again due to all the concerns over the financial market crisis here in the U.S. and abroad.

Oh, and speaking of the financial market crisis…

Why the fuck aren’t we letting these people fail?  I thought we lived in a Capitalist economy?  Is it only the small business we’ll let fail?  is it only the average consumer who has to declare bankruptcy when they cannot pay their bills?  Yes, I understand that these institutions are huge.  Yes, I understand that if they failed it would be a huge blow to our stock market that would have a ripple effect and impact folks who didn’t have money on the stock market.  I get all that.  I also don’t care.  If our economy is based on a flimsy house of cards it needs to fall down so we can put it back together the right way, because this isn’t going to stop.  What is going to motivate the CEO’s of these companies to actually operate their businesses in a financially sound way if they know that the federal reserve is going to be there to bail them out when the shit hits the fan?  For that matter, how did the “average American family” suddenly become so important that we have to spend all this money to make sure the institutions holding their mortgages don’t go out of business?  Why weren’t we bailing THEM out of their bad mortgages?

Lemme set one thing straight here before I continue – The above statement?  Yeah, that was sarcasm.  If you took out a loan you knew you couldn’t afford to pay you deserve to lose your house.  If you made billions of dollars selling loans to people who couldn’t afford to pay them you deserve to go out of business.

Since when did Conservatives suddenly become so bully about Government getting involved in the private sector, anyway?  I mean, I thought their whole stance was supposed to be that Big Government is bad and that an open and free market is a good thing?  Shouldn’t they be the ones out there arguing against these bailouts?

Oh, who am I kidding?  We all know that “conservatism” goes out the window if the government getting involved is good for big business, national security, or personal morals.  The folks who say government is too large want to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as an act between a man and a woman.

And speaking of that kind of hypocrisy…Someone explain this to me…

Jimmy Carter was our President for four years and is commonly referred to as the Worst President EVAR.  He was frequently seen as being largely responsible for our economy taking a nose dive in the late 70’s.  Ok.  Then we have 12 years of Republican rule, in which our deficit and debt grow by astronomical leaps and bounds.  Clinton gets into office, and when he leaves there is a surplus and things are looking pretty good.  Bush is around for eight years and our economy is tanking again, but…wait…that’s not his fault?  It’s Clinton’s?  What?  You’re kidding me, right?

One of the phrases that Reagan used that is commonly attributed to putting the nail in the coffin of Jimmy Carter’s re-election was “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  Let me answer a similar question from my own perspective – “Are you better off now than you were 8 years ago?”

In December of 1999 I purchased the house I am currently living in.  I was working for Staples, and my wife was working part-time as a nurse.  We had two cars, both of them older cars but free of any car payments.  We were living paycheck to paycheck and frequently scraping by, but we were managing.

I am currently living in the same house.  I have refinanced twice since then, but my payments are only slightly higher.  I am making more than twice what I made when I was working at Staples.  My other half works part time and goes to school.  We have two (functional) cars, neither of which has a car payment.  I am still living paycheck to paycheck and frequently just scraping by. Can some of that be attributed to the fact that I do not manage my money well?  Of course it can.  I own the fact that I suck at saving.  The fact of the matter is, though, that while my income has increased so has the basic cost of living.  It costs me three times as much to fill up my gas tank.  It costs me twice as much for a gallon of milk.  My homeowner’s insurance damn hear tripled.  Hell, the fucking comic books I like to read cost almost $4 each now.

No, I am NOT better off than I was 8 years ago.  I’m pretty much in the same place, financially.  I’m also constantly stressed over whether or not my job is secure, I’m worried about the fact that much of the world looks on us with disdain, my nephew is part of a war I honestly do not feel that we should have gotten involved in, and the man who claimed responsibility for orchestrating a horrific attack on our country seven years ago is still alive and free.

Oh, and another thing that’s pissing me off?  This whole “Obama is an Elitist” thing.  Dude.  Seriously?  For one, Obama was raised by a single mother who was on food stamps.  John McCain was a military child who graduated from the Naval Academy.  Which one of those two backgrounds sounds like it would lead you to being an elitist?  Yes, Barack Obama is a smart, well educated man who uses big words.  When did this become a bad thing?  As much as I hate to throw racism out there, I really can’t help but feel that he wouldn’t be dealing with that particular criticism if he was white.  Because, you know, white people are SUPPOSED to talk well.  Black people who are well educated are “uppity,” right?

The sad thing here is that I really used to like John McCain.  A lot.  I was hoping he would win the Republican nomination because I thought that, if he won, he could possibly restore some dignity to the White House.  I just don’t feel that way any more.

I’d go off on all the reasons why, but I’ve run out of steam here and I have work to do.  Besides, you’ve heard it all before.  I highly doubt I’m convincing anyone to change their vote or shed any new light on subjects that have been flogged to death recently.  A lot of this has just been boiling up inside of me recently and I figured I’d go ahead and get it out there.  Barack Obama would not have been my choice for a Presidential candidate.  Frankly, none of the candidates that showed up during the primaries would have been.  At this point, though, I think he’s the best shot we have at getting away from the bullshit of the last eight years.  Maybe, just maybe, we can get back to really being proud of being an American and having that phrase be more than just a line in a jingoistic song from a one-hit wonder.

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