Monday, September 5, 2011

Captain Obama has left the Mad Hatters of the TEA Party at the helm

Once again President Obama has caved to pressure by the Chamber of Commerce and TEA Party Republicans; this time over whether or not to update smog standards in order to the protect Americans from increasing incidents of asthma. This means that the same standards put in place by George W. Bush and believed to violate the Clean Air Act by Obama’s EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, will remain in place for another two years while Americans suffer.

The excuse is that requiring additional scrubbers on pollution generating industrial plants will be too expensive and cost jobs. Tell that to the 12,000 or so people who die from pollution induced asthma and other respiratory conditions. I’ve got news for the Chamber, going to the emergency room nearly unable to breathe is too expensive. Jobs would be created by updating these regulations as new equipment would have to be purchased and installed and it could all be paid for by the record profits that corporate America is racking up while it isn’t hiring new employees.

The Mad Hatters in the TEA Party would have you believe that freedom and deregulation are synonymous but the air we breathe is shared by us all and if government doesn’t regulate what can be dumped in it, our air may not be fit to breathe for much longer. So TEA Party members I have news for you too, air and water are shared by all and if that makes them socialist – get over it.

Another giant sucking sound as American jobs head to South Korea

The op-ed in Sunday’s paper by Antonio Garza offers an amazingly inverted argument for quick passage of three bilateral free-trade agreements. While in the same breath commenting on our current unemployment crisis he goes on to suggest that somehow opening our doors to even more cheap imports will help solve this problem. Of course he couches this in claims that we’ll actually be able to export more but that claim has been debunked for nearly twenty years.

Former presidential candidate Ross Perot once said of the North American Free Trade Agreement, listen for the "giant sucking sound" of American jobs heading south to Mexico should NAFTA be ratified. He’s been proven correct, Economic Policy Institute economist Robert Scott estimates that 682,900 U.S. jobs have been "lost or displaced" because of the agreement and the resulting trade deficit.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that in the first seven years of the Korean agreement as many as 159,000 American jobs could be lost and the trade deficit could increase by $16.7 billion. While the pacts proposed with Columbia and Panama will of course have smaller effects they will nevertheless have negative consequences for employment in the U.S.

Were we actually competing with other countries on a level playing field meaning that all countries had similar labor and environmental regulations free trade might make sense. Since we won’t also have fair trade multi-national corporations will simply continue to outsource jobs as they seek “shareholder value” leaving more Americans unemployed.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Letter to the Express News responding to arguments against same sex partner benefits

Saturday’s letters included “A vote-getting ploy” in which Mr. Charest seems overwrought because unmarried same-sex couples will now be granted benefits that have previously only been granted to married heterosexual couples. He goes on and on about whether other unmarried couples will be granted similar benefits. Well there’s an excellent reason that this particular group of citizens is being singled out for “special privileges”, Texas unlike more enlightened states such as Iowa denies them the right to be married in the first place.

Given the tone of his letter I’d guess Mr. Charest is among those Christians who persist in cherry picking bible passages from the Old Testament which support their particular bigoted views. I suggest that in order to alleviate his theological concerns he open his mind to the entire set of Christ’s teachings in which I think he’ll find a more accepting and loving approach. On the governmental side if Charest is so concerned that these benefits are granted in return for votes; all he has to do is support state legislation providing marriage equality.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Mom's" letter to the President on job creation

Dear Mr. President,

Having lived through the “Great Depression”, I’ll be 82 later this month, I can speak from experience that many of your esteemed advisers cannot. I am a child of an unemployed laborer who died prematurely of a heart attack and a disabled homemaker. I went to school often having eaten no breakfast and bringing nothing for lunch. I must tell you that while the current “Great Recession” is certainly not as bad as when I was growing up that is cold comfort for workers and their families who through no fault of their own have been without jobs for several years.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been my hero since I was old enough to say his name and I know from terrible experience that his policies are what saved my life and that of my sister and three brothers. The Herbert Hoover clones in Congress would have America cut spending and therefore cut more jobs, how can that possibly be the remedy for the lack of jobs we already suffer? Even Richard Nixon knew such actions were foolhardy for he said “We’re all Keynesians now.”

FDR recognized that the American people he loved were suffering under Hoover’s policies. I know that you too feel for the millions of Americans who are suffering today. I urge you to put aside the attempts at bi-partisanship which the party of Hoover apparently sees as weakness and proudly follow Roosevelt’s lead by putting Americans back to work building for our future.