All Posts Tagged With: "Politics"
Much has been said about healthcare in the last few months. It seems there is nothing more to talk about. I mean come one we’re headed towards National Socialism or Communism (interesting how one policy can lead to wildly divergent political outcomes eh?), we’re going to kill grandma, we’re going to ration healthcare, we’re going to take healthcare decisions out of the hands of patients and put it in the hands of bureaucrats (a dramatic shift, no doubt, from my insurance company denying any and every treatment I’ve ever needed until I called in to bust some balls). Well this post is about absolutely none of those things, so I’d appreciate it if we could avoid such silliness.
No, this post is about the costs to our healthcare that arise from our social isolationism. Okay, so the title is a bit misleading, it says individualism, but I tend to not see a dramatic difference. Individualism encourages us to look to no one but ourselves for our necessities, which when taken to its logical endpoint, means we become more isolated. Semantics aside, my argument is pretty simple: our isolationism is costing us in our healthcare spending – and big time. Read more…
How would you define power, in a political sense? Like my last few posts, this one is inspired by Professor Larry Klugman. On the first day of his political science course he defined Power with the following formula:
Power = Access + Process
I worked the Kennedy ‘80 campaign in Champaign-Urbana (I’ve forgotten what Congressional district that was then) and co-organized a campus campaign visit. The campaign was rough and the visit was rougher as the Senator was stuck in Chicago by weather and a firemen’s strike. He was almost two hours late and the crowd in the Auditorium got rowdier and worse. It came close to recent town hall meetings and the Senator had a lousy cold. But, he came on, after introduction by, I believe, Penny Severns, who was running as both a Kennedy delegate and for Congress. After comments, he took questions. The one I vividly remember was from some know-it-all grad student who asked something specific and technical about a bill from a committee hearing four years earlier. Not only did Kennedy remember, but he corrected on the details and responded w/ a technical answer to the scientific point made. Several others have made the same point today about his incredible memory for legislative details and how it made the difference in his ability to negotiate legislation.
I’m not sure how many of you in the Agora are following the card check legislation, also known as the Employee Free Choice Act. This is an epic battle between labor unions and business. The EFCA would simplify the process of forming a union by allowing a majority of workers to sign a card supporting a union, rather than voting on unionization. It also includes binding arbitration provisions, and increased penalties, but most of the media focus is on “card check.” This eliminates the company’s opportunity to launch a campaign against unionizing, or take affirmative steps to address the needs of workers to preclude the need to unionize. Big business has chosen the secret ballot as the symbol of their battle, which I consider a mistake. I think a well reasoned explanation of practical objections, particularly those based on current economic circumstances, would be a better way to sway public opinion, in part because explanations of the current unionization regime don’t seem particularly unreasonable in the public mind.
Recently Sen. Specter, a moderate, endangered Republican, stated he will not vote for cloture to bring the card check vote to the floor. Now a compromise proposal is being floated, but both main interest groups are opposing it. All along both groups have vowed that no compromise would be acceptable. I suspect that position will hold, at least through 2009. But the reason isn’t Arlen Specter.
In the media we may hear lots of stories about why the bill is held back. The story may center on specific moderate Senators, or we may hear a narrative about how the EFCA is too bloody of a battle to fight now when we are facing economic disaster, or that the Dems are waiting for Frankin, or that unions need to wait for the economy to recover to weaken the business’s gloom and doom predictions. But what’s really going on? It all comes down to money. This is the kind of fight that employs a great many lobbyists, many of whom have less and less other paying work due to clients cutting their lobbying budget or being unable to pay their bills. Too many people on both sides are getting paid for anyone to want to draw thier guns. Why fight the war when after it’s waged the retainer checks will stop coming in? And until the vote takes place, both unions and business groups will stay especially interested in fundraisers for moderate, endangered members like Specter.
Bear with me people…I’m an engineer, not an artist.
1) Obama will go with a short speech, powerful, memorable, quotable speech which will be under 20 minutes long. JFK’s inaugural was 12 minutes long, and there is a connection. Ted Sorenson who wrote much of the Kennedy inaugural address, and who advises Obama, had help with his memoirs from a young man who is now one of Obama’s speech writers. And this year’s inaugural theme is centered on Lincoln, including using Lincoln’s Bible. Another historic analogy that will be quickly and often drawn is the comparison to Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.
2) Obama wont rush dont ask dont tell. This will be pushed back out of the beginning of the agenda. While Obama might be catching some hell from the gay community about dont ask dont tell, he’s way to smart to let this derail his first 100 days the way it derailed Clintons. Too much political capital.
3) Stimulus will pass with broad bipartisan support, and many republicans will later regret their vote as they run low on popular ways to distinguish their record from Dems.
4) A few months stories will break about the ultimate policy pragmatist Rahm sparring with Congressional leaders about what to push when, he’ll be pushing to keep things centrist and post-partisan a while longer.
5) Michelle Obama will dazzle us all with her poise and grace. By the end of 2009, she will have a higher approval rating than even the Barackstar.
6) Neither Cuomo nor Kennedy will be the next Senator from NY.
7) Dow will be above 10,000 by July, but will dip below 7,900 again before April.
8) Jaybandit and I are having a weight loss contest, I will win.
Earlier this month president-elect Barack Obama announced that he intends to enact a new economic stimulus package to create 2.5 million jobs and help stabilize our flagging economy. This stimulus package is on a truly massive scale. Initial numbers ran in the $700 billion range, but more recent reports suggest $775 billion or eventually $1 trillion.
So the government is about to spend a gajillion dollars and the transition team is probably thinking up how to target the investments to get the most bang for the buck. Many have suggested using a chunk of it to help states or to fund proposed and planned infrastructure projects. Funding infrastructure projects has the benefit of putting large numbers of people directly to work in construction. Indirectly it will stimulate demand and create jobs in other sectors that supply materials as well as in service sectors as people spend the money they’re earning with their nifty construction jobs.
A look back on the year’s most influential and newsworthy people in America and around the world.
As promised, here’s a column on how to survive the next decade meant for Millennials and late Gen-X who have based their future plans on the indefinite continuation of prosperity and importance of college-taught skills. Read more…
Tuesday’s election is over, now, with liberals, activists, and the Obamaniacs congratulating themselves on a “world-changing victory.” Yet, there is rain on their parade. Across the country, people are scatching their heads and wondering what went wrong on California’s Proposition 8–the ban on the gay marriages that the California courts had mandated earlier this year.