The Evolution of Liberalism 2

Ultimately as liberals and progressives I think we get stuck in our definition of words. There are some people who define liberalism as a static rather than dynamic concept. But I would put out there that liberalism as a concept is dynamic and does nothing more than reflect the milieu of any given era in civilization.

Let’s take the oft talked about Greatest Liberal of all time FDR. FDR was a great liberal, but he interred Japanese Americans, which isn’t liberal at all. Social Security was a liberal policy, but just for white men when it began. Just saying.

Let’s look at R.M. Nixon for a minute, an arch conservative with fascist tendencies, who committed a political crime, that dude created the EPA and his signed into law NEPA thanks to  Scoop Jackson, another flawed liberal in Washington State politics, he supported Vietnam but was a great environmentalist. They usher in an era of deep research into ecological restoration. Nixon reflected his era,because of the pressures around him. That era  demanded some action on the environment, which was considered a liberal cause.

Let’s look at t Jimmy Carter for a minute, you define him as a liberal, but under his administration the airlines were deregulated, this is not what we would consider today to be a liberal policy position. Indeed he was reflecting his era, his time. And many of the Carter policies were liberal.

We all know that under Clinton, Welfare was effectively gutted, and that was an indication of what was to come, the deregulation of financial services. People love Clinton now, b/c the economy was so great back in the 90’s and everyone wants to go back to that, but at the time, Clinton’s policies were just reflecting the era, sometime his policies could be considered quite liberal, The Federal Acquisition and Streamlining Act of 1994, a very liberal policy that expanded the numbers of minority businesses competing for Federal Government contracts. It was a very important micro-economic policy.

Barack Obama is no different from those Presidents, he reflects this era. This returns us to my original statement, but what I am describing is our dynamic  concept of liberalism which has changed over time.  His agenda is mostly liberal. But not everything his administration proposes or accomplishes is liberal. I think that is because as people we too are more complex than that, we are not one dimensional and we are not static beings. We evolve and change as do our expectations of civilization. This is just another step up in our continuing growth as humans. As we continue to evolve as people, our government will evolve with us.

Crossposted at DAGBlog

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Fear and Loathing of Public Policy: Shrinking Access Post Secondary Education = Permanent Underclass 7

What are we going to do since the cost of education is skyrocketing? Students these days graduate with enormous debt or they don’t get the opportunity to attend post secondary training.

Long ago when I started college it was an inexpensive 1200.00 a year that included books. I didn’t really have debt when I graduated from college. That isn’t the case for students today, and with the cost of tuition rising as much as 20% in one year at some state colleges, soon enough the middle and lower classes will be unable to afford post-secondary education. And the thing is, we’d become a thriving first world nation in part because we expanded access to education to almost everyone.

Let’s look at some numbers:

So my numbers are personal numbers, and at the time, it was not difficult to afford a college education, I could even hold down a part-time job, go to school and not really worry tons about tuition, it just wasn’t that expensive.  Let’s look at the rising cost of post secondary education with information obtained from the US Census bureau.  The data I am going to share with you is also an example of the tiny policy things Democrats do in Office juxtaposed with how Republicans treat government function. First and foremost, the data I found spans the years 1991 – 2001, the 2001 data wasn’t published until 2006. This information is published in table form, as excel worksheets, but without an explanation of that data, that could be distributed to the general public. As usual, Republicans take the function of government for granted, but as you will see during the Clinton era, government produced much demographic information from years of data collection and comprehensive analysis. I digress, but if you follow my links you will see evidence of my statement.

It isn’t unknown to anyone that tuition at public universities, colleges and technical schools has been on the rise since the anti-pay for anything crowd solidified their choke hold on government functions. In the 1970’s prior to Prop 13, post-secondary education was free in California and in doing that they created one of the best post secondary systems in the country at that time from Riverside CC to UC Berkeley.

I digress, since 1990 college tuition has had steep increases according to the census studies.

1990-91

1993-94

1996-97

2000-2001 the data used is from Table 5b

In 1991, the total average tuition cost for a student was $2653.00 per year. At the same time students receiving financial assistance were receiving on average $2919.00. The cost of education has obviously risen, however, it is still affordable for students and there is still ample financial aid to cover the cost of education. These numbers will be used as a baseline for comparison.

In the 1993 -94 years, on average students were paying $3905.00 per year. In just two years the cost of education had risen 47%. At the same time students were receiving on average $4,486.00 in financial aid, which was up 43% from just the two years prior. A 47% increase is pretty big, and one has to wonder how many students at this time are beginning to be priced out of education. Well times began to boom even more, and people forgot about funding post-secondary education, and all over the country Tax-cutting fever began to hit every county in America. The result of course was less state funding for post-secondary education, and more burdens on students and their families. Well they were voting for that stuff, so I guess they couldn’t see plainly what could be the unintended consequences of the republican meme of “we don’t need to pay no stinkin’ taxes”.

Well the results from the 1996-97 study are even more stunning; by 1996-97 the average cost of post-secondary education had risen to a stunning $8,667.00 on average per year. In less than 10 years tuition had risen 292%, and in 3 year tuition had risen 122%, these numbers are stunning. And you begin to see a pattern developing, one that will eventually price lower and middle class kids from ever obtaining a college education, it will simply be too expensive.   Well that aside, the average financial aid package was worth about 6,022.00, and as you can see it failed to cover the entire educational needs of the student, and I believe this began a rise in private lenders who would take advantage of unsuspecting college students, in order to meet the rising cost of their education.

The 2001-2002 years are even more shocking. On average students tuition is $10,560.00 per year on post secondary education. This represents an increase of 398% from 90-91, of 170% from 93-94, and 21.8% from 96-97, which the financial aid package on average rose to $6,291.00 per year.

As you observe the stark differences in how the two administrations presented the data they gathered from Universities around the county, be reminded, this is the difference in how Republicans and Democrats view government. Demographic information is important; we use it to justify funding programs around the country. We make better decisions when analysts present the data in an understandable way, with a narrative attached as opposed to just throwing a bunch of spread sheets. It is an example of how little Republicans care about government in general; they don’t see it as useful to the nation.

It is now real news in every state in the nation that tuition costs are rising yet again, in my own state tuition costs have risen 20% this year, that is huge, and in many cases it is becoming unaffordable for many students to obtain post-secondary education. As a society we are supposed to be more conscious of funding education from k-16, because it is education that will help us prepare for our next steps economically. If we do not find a way to help students get educated without being buried in debt when they graduate, our society will be worse off for it, and we will create a permanent underclass, which will grow. As a nation, we have to ask ourselves if this is the direction we really want to take.

CrossPosted at DAGBlog

In Defense of Melissa Harris Perry 3

It all began with a Michael Moore visit to the View. It was nothing short of appalling. So we will call it Exhibit 1:

For the longest time I just didn’t know what to say about that clip, I’d certainly read all of the criticism of Moore after this episode. I’ve been formulating what I want to say since then, and reading as much as possible about onslaught of commentary that followed his outburst of what can only be called blatant racism. And in a sense I think Professor Harris Perry (ProfHP), was really responding to this, after being exposed to much of the diva outbursts that attempt to denigrate the Presidency of Barack Obama, in the so-called progressive blogsophere. I am going to introduce this clip as the penultimate example of racism in the so-called progressive community, and I am using Moore’s gaff first because it is a blatant example of employing a stereotype to describe ones disappointment in the President. Does Moore really believe this?    Moore definitely caused an avalanche virtual debate.  I did read much of it. However as a white person, I still believe I have much to learn about racism and how it manifests in the most blatant and subtle ways. Ultimately in order to bridge our racial divide white people have to listen. But in a deeper sense first and foremost ProfHP does have some real hard evidence of racism in the so-called progressive community and that begins with Michael Moore’s statement on The View. That does constitute evidence, it really does.   Why would you stoop to a stereotype to register your already well-known disappointment in the President? So we have one significant piece of evidence or outright racism, because unlike what Joan Walsh writes, evidence that is not in the form of a poll can also be relevant and serve as examples of racism at work, because most progressives don’t believe they are racist! They would never admit to it to a pollster, and that means we have to have other means of gathering data, come on, this isn’t that hard.

Exhibit 2: So after ProfHP’s original piece appeared in The Nation, Joan Walsh weighed in, with an okay blog, but it didn’t tell the entire story, and her blog required proof of racism via poll data.  Poll responses about subtle racism cannot be supported without actual working evidence, which is often the things people say and write. Joan Walsh used the conservative talking point, there is no evidence to conclude such things, when in fact there is evidence, first and foremost Michael Moore.

Exhibit 3: The leader of the group New Progressive Alliance, Anthony Noel, told an African-American blogger to get over being black and to start debating like a human. What? OMG, I don’t know how to respond to that kind of racism and I can’t believe this is actually happening and this does constitute evidence, cold hard factual evidence of racism among the so-called progressive blogosphere.

Exhibit 4: David Sirota’s response to ProfHP: Boy that guy is one mad upper middle class employed talk show radio host isn’t he, I had never read him prior to this, so I delved into his stream of consciousness, and that is what it was a stream of consciousness wrapped in white-hot anger. So let’s get to Sirota’s criticism, to which he claims not one person has taken on his so-called facts to challenge him, people have just called him a racist. Well Dave if the shoe fits buddy, I guess you will have to wear it. Sirota wrote this:

By seeing this record and then explaining away declining liberal support for President Obama as a product of bigotry, Harris-Perry exhibits the ultimate form of both denialism and elitism.

But does she really exhibit the “ultimate” form of both denialism (which is not a word for the record) and elitism, (hello pot, meet kettle). Because there is ample evidence of her thesis. Sirota doesn’t want to acknowledge it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t evidence. First of course this elitism crap is being carried too far, Sirota by definition is a liberal elitist, he should quit pulling the faux populism card.  But what does account for the declining support of so-called progressives? Hell according to politifact.com the President has accomplished many of his campaign promises, in fact he has accomplished 147 of his campaign promises. Why are his accomplishments never acknowledged or if they are they are written off as tiny and not worthwhile and doesn’t make him progressive etc and so on. The list of his accomplishments are here: Politifact.com.  Was Clinton a surrender monkey when his health care bill failed and he never talked about universal health care again? Health Care was huge, and because of it more people are covered.

Let’s go over more examples of racism in the Progressive community and these do constitute proof, the proof folks like Walsh, Sirota and Lyons are demanding.

Exhibit 5: 2011 article by Robert Kuttner: Black and Bleak

The problem is less Obama’s failure to target black unemployment per se than his weakness on the jobs issue generally. Race comes into the equation because of an almost pathological aversion to conflict on Obama’s part, which has been widely attributed to his wish to bridge racial and ideological gaps.

What? It is as though Kuttner doesn’t realize that the President through policy implementation has successfully “strengthened  Small Business Administration programs that provide capital to minority-owned businesses, support outreach programs that help minority business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of minority firms.”  So actually the President is working to help minority communities by supporting the growth of business, which can only serve to help any given community by providing more jobs. So that makes Kuttner’s analysis not just wrong, but weird. Is it direct racism? Maybe not, but it is subtle, if Kuttner had done his homework he would see the President is implementing the same kind of policies the Clinton Admin for minority owned business. These were programs that were immediately ended when Bush took office.  No doubt African-Americans have suffered a great deal during this terrible recession, greatly. However, this is a statistic that never changes, it doesn’t matter who is in office or what his color might be. African-Americans have always suffered more during economic downturns and as a people we should attempt to address and make corrections. It is all our responsibility, and we should start by getting Republicans out of congress.   So  when I read this particular line made me feel uncomfortable; is it subtle racism? It makes me think Kuttner believes the President is just looking for approval of white, protestant men, otherwise, why is up with the sloppy statement based on some sort of ESP?

Race comes into the equation because of an almost pathological aversion to conflict on Obama’s part, which has been widely attributed to his wish to bridge racial and ideological gaps.

Exhibit 6: FDL sometimes is a hotbed for subtle and outright racism. Case in point: This is a blog post about labor unions, but then there is this the last line in the blog:

The basic problem is that the Rich ate all the pie. What do you intend to do about it? Snuggle up to their Democratic Party incarnation some more in the hope of getting some crumbs? There used to be a term for that, on the plantations. House N****r.

No one is going to tell me this isn’t evidence of racism amongst so-called progressives. Was it necessary to  head directly to plantation talk? Was it? How can anyone write that there is no evidence of some divisive racial language used by some people on the left?

Exhibit 7: Now let’s get to Gene Lyons, who perhaps responded like a bully and then pulled his own race card.  Lyons in retaliation asserted that ProfHP was a fool, and that was bad enough, but then came the most troubling paragraph:

Furthermore, unless you’re black, you can’t possibly understand. Yada, yada, yada. This unfortunate obsession increasingly resembles a photo negative of KKK racial thought. It’s useful for intimidating tenure committees staffed by Ph.D.s trained to find racist symbols in the passing clouds. Otherwise, Harris-Perry’s becoming a left-wing Michele Bachmann, an attractive woman seeking fame and fortune by saying silly things on cable TV.

If I didn’t know better, I would have figured this was written by one Rush Limbaugh, not just denigrating the Professors expertise but making a claim that she used her blackness to intimidate tenure committees, OMG, and yet there is no racism in the so-called white progressive community.  This type of commentary makes me nearly speechless. I said nearly.  When the President was elected I was naive enough to believe that so-called progressives would never ever stoop to racially insensitive speech. I.Was.Wrong.

Cross Posted at  DAGblog

After a birthday party. 2

I attended a birthday party recently for a wonderful 6-year-old son of friends.  Lots of people, both family and friends, lots of merrymaking, seemingly endless amounts of both good food and conversation, and things went well into the night.

He’s a great kid – talented, imaginative, and fun.  Maybe sometimes I get him a bit overwound but his parents love to see him enjoying himself and no harm gets done.  He even brought me up short that day, when I told him I thought he was a cool little guy.  He looked at me, grinned, said “Cool big guy!” and laughed.  So did I, and I had to agree with him.  He’s 6, after all.  He gets to be a big guy now if he wants.

They’re wonderful people themselves, his parents.  Kind, generous, always determined to feed everyone within an inch of being unable to breathe and then send them home with leftovers, and that great, fun, lively 6-year-old is their unending joy.

He’s also a living, breathing gesture, no, a stand, a stand of defiance.  Something of them will outlive them, and go forward into a whole new world.

Why a stand of defiance, you might ask?

They’re Cambodian.  Both of them survived Pol Pot.

Dessert’s done.  Time for the spinach.

When people must bend in the service of an ideology, Pol Pot happens.  As do Pinochet, Stalin, Mao, bin Laden, the Crusades, Hitler, and more.

The particular ideology, in fact, doesn’t mean nearly as much as the belief that it must be implemented no matter the price.

No less a historical figure than Joshua bar-Joseph opined in his wisdom that “The law was made for man, not man for the law!” and that remains a universal truth ignored only at the cost of untold lives.  Sadly, many of his adherents – who cannot among themselves agree on a correct understanding of that wisdom, at the cost of many more lives – seek to implement various laws they believe man made for.  (See “Crusades, the” as mentioned above.)

It’s far more important to see that people’s needs are met than to be “pure” in any particular idealism.  And that requires understanding some things.

First, let’s look at the concept that we all do better when we all do better.  I would turn here to the late, wonderful Chicago Daily News/Sun-Times op-ed columnist, Sydney J. Harris, who opined in an essay that most people fail miserably when asked to define their own best interest, feeling that it was purely their immediate benefit, when in reality it was that which extended the farthest around them, because it did not set them apart, rather, it integrated them more thoroughly into the social fabric.

Societies benefits, as observers going back to de Tocqueville have noted, from the stabilizing influence of the middle class – those who have a stake in, and participate in, society and thus stand to benefit when those around them do well, and feel the adverse impact when they do not.

Self-interest is a noted shibboleth among the Libertarians.  It’s the very core of Ayn Rand’s (barely readable) “literature” and perhaps the most poorly understood notion among that cohort.  Their perception of self-interest extends only to themselves, or if they’re particularly – and uncharacteristically – generous, their families.  This ignores the very real damage done to society by resentments borne of inequities of opportunity, to say nothing of the potential wasted thereby.

More will follow in time.  I am not a rapid writer when it comes to such things.

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be 2

Note: This is taken from TPM-aholics, where it originated.

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What do we want 2050 to look like?

We know a few things already.

It will be more crowded.  Estimates put us somewhere north of 9 billion people worldwide.  Maybe 14 billion by the end of the century.  I might make it to see the 9 billion, unappealing as that sounds.  The 14 billion, well, I’m glad I’ll be long gone for that.

Some nations will be much older, others will be younger.

It will be warmer.  Whether temperature increases stay steady, accelerate, or slow, they will continue for the foreseeable future.  As will weather instability, as we have seen in the last few months.

It might well be drier, and that’s not a good thing, as water is the one thing we absolutely, positively cannot live without.

Let’s leave the global aside for a moment and look at the national – and maybe even closer.

There are two main possible directions for the future.  One is to continue along the increasing corporatization of America, until we begin to resemble something akin to an electronicized feudal state, where ownership of most of the economy is concentrated in the hands of a very few, with the great numbers of people having almost no say or stake in anything.  This is the Libertarians’ ideal, of course, though many of their adherents are foolish enough to believe that they’ll somehow be on the ownership side of the fence.

They won’t.

They’re cannon fodder to the people really pulling the strings.  And they’ll resist that truth to the last breath.

Or we can set about reclaiming the concept of a public good, redefining ourselves in terms of a society rather than simply an economy, and relegating all religious discussion to its rightful place in the private sphere.

Something to work for, don’t you think?

What if that goal was even such a simple notion as that there is no good reason for anyone to have to go to bed hungry, or to not have a bed to go hungry to, or even a roof overhead?  That there is no good reason for a child to grow to adulthood unschooled?  That everyone having basic health care is a huge social positive in many more ways than there are room to list here?

We live in a society.  An economy is just a component of that society, and those who confuse the two shortchange not only this society, they also shortchange themselves.

It would appear that the choice is fairly clear – stark, even.  On the one hand, we can live in Rand Paul’s dreamland, an electronicized Somalia, with no functioning government to speak of and a tiny, cosseted elite exploiting everyone else for fun (more on this in the future) and profit, or we can change direction and realize that we will indeed do better if we all do better.

So, what do you want 2050 to look like?