All about ideas…

When will logic and reality become part of the conversation?

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George WashingtonI don’t believe in ideology. I believe in logic. If this action, then those results. That’s why whenever I hear a politician or political pundit, I ask what are the intended…and more importantly unintended…consequences. How will these actions play out over the long term for the American people at large. To me, politics is not a game of right vs left but rather the lives of millions of American people and the economic viability of the nation. I don’t believe in politically simplistic – or sophistry – answers. I believe in discovering the roots causes, much as scientists do for a disease, of a problem and resolving those root causes. Whether it’s illegal immigration or the budget deficit. However, sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by political stupidity and partisanship. One would think that after 200+ years of this nation (actually well over 300 years since the first settlers) the American people would have gone well beyond ill-informed partisan wrangling. One of the things our founders agreed upon was the inherent evil of political partisanship, which is why Pres. Washington spoke against it so often. Yet, from the first, political parties argued and engaged in partisanship via news outlets. Nothing new now. What has changed is the volume of the partisan news media.

This evening, I’ve listened to replays of Republican Congressmen who publicly vetoed any help for the Big-3 auto companies, even from those who voted for the bail out of the Big 5 Wall St. financial companies under Pres. Bush in Sept 2008. Much of their “so-called” reasoning was that the unions presented too much of a drag on company profits so they could not support loaning money to these companies.

Yes, it’s true that Ford did not need federal help. But that was because they sought out financial help a year prior to the financial meltdown, through the sale of shares and loans that raised enough cash to tide Ford through the downturn to remodel their facilities and their cars. Ford publicly announced the fact that had they not sought funding a year earlier, they would have been the in same position as the other two American auto companies. Fortunately for Ford, their company leadership recognized the wave of the future. GM and Chrysler did not have such leadership.

Nevertheless, the facts remain that if the Fed Government had not LOANED GM and Chrysler (remember Lee Iococa asking the Fed gov’t for a loan way back when?) both companies would be out of business now (would a bankruptcy court have dealt with bondholders and shareholders any differently?) along with thousands and perhaps millions of suppliers all across America. Even foreign car companies argued for the loans as their businesses would be irreparably hurt if all the small production-chain suppliers were put out of business as a result of the loss of GM and Chrysler buying power.

Not only would the unemployment rate be much higher than it is now, but also all auto manufacturing in this country effectively would have come to an end. Yet, the taxpayer continues to pay subsidies to Exxon-Mobil, Massey Energy and ADM. Not LOANS such as the car companies have to pay back, but outright corporate welfare. Taxpayer subsidies to corporations that have no obligation to pay back a single dollar for their taxpayer help to the tune of $550,000,000.00 – but are very profitable within their own industry sectors and across of the board.

Let’s get real, people, and stop playing into partisan political hyperbole and rhetoric. You can hate unions for much of what their leadership has done (abused the system) through the years, but to deny workers the opportunity to bargain for better salaries and worker conditions from a profitable company – or a company that is paying its’ senior managements billions of dollars each year – is beyond ludicrous. Furthermore, it smacks at how much corporate PR…and their congressional enablers and apologists…have come to dominate the public conversation. Since when did a worker earning a decent yet modest living income become anathema?

Many still continue to argue that labor unions are the biggest problem for auto companies. But, aside from ideological free market view points, has anyone even taken the time to discover what auto unions (and the auto companies) are paying new workers? $14 per hour. At an average of 40 hours per week that salary amounts to $540 per week pre-taxes or $27,000 for 50 weeks of work before taxes. How many people really think that is a wonderful salary? Even the $28/hr for older workers only net a pre-tax salary for the same period of time of $56,000. That’s hardly high living. Yet, somehow, still, unions are a huge problem in many people’s minds. Why? Is it because they’ve been told over and over again in the media that it’s a problem…because corporations say it’s a problem or because it changes the ill-informed paradigm of worker vs management and the ideologic rhetoric of free-marketers who apparently don’t believe in assembled group negotiations? What, after all, is a union but an assembly of like-minded individuals seeking a common outcome? Speaking as a buyer of goods and services, that’s what negotiations are all about. Each comes into the negotiations wanting the most or best they hope for and settle on something in between. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango.

Sometimes I worry about the lack of public knowledge and its ability to see the beyond the now to the end results of any action. When I was in school, we were taught logic: “if, then” theory. Now all we get hyperbole and partisan rhetoric in place of sound logical arguments as well as an uninformed voter public.

One of the things I remember from school was publisher Randolph Hearst telling his people, you manufacture the war (with Spain over Cuba, et al) and I’ll deliver public opinion and the Congress. Are we back to those dark days where media fails to do its job to inform the public accurately? Does not the public deserve honest reporting? Does not the media require honest reporting of “if,then” scenarios from which the voting public can then make an informed decision? When the media fails to investigate and provide logical consequences to certain actions, the public is done a disservice. The public is not properly informed. Worse the public is not taught to investigate and inform themselves.

When the media becomes dominated by corporate sponsors – and their apologists – and becomes afraid to ask the important questions, real democracy is lost.

Such seems to be the case now as so many people who comment on blogs and major news sites spew the latest partisan rhetoric – and much, much worse – in order to gain what? Both the questions and answers are simplistic and ideologically oriented with very little thought regarding long term solutions or serious discussions of causes or strategic and tactical thinking about 50 years down the road.

I wonder what Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison and Adams would be thinking if they could see us now.


Written by Valerie Curl

July 31, 2010 at 9:24 AM

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