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Jonathan Tasini Headshot

A Lack of Seriousness

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I voted early this morning. And now I can reflect on the disaster looming ahead. Not what happens today. But what happens over the next few years, and the next decade.

In the midst of the greatest crisis on the planet in half a century, there was such a lack of serious debate in the campaigns--it was stunning.

It was hard to find any serious debate about the Afghanistan War. Reporters did not care to ask questions about what candidates would do about the war--and candidates did not care to bring it up or even think for three seconds what the continued involvement in a catastrophic war means for our country...from a foreign policy standpoint and from a we-are-handwringing-about-the-deficit-yet-voting-blindly-for-billions-more-for-a-lost-war standpoint. Astonishing. Though perhaps not astonishing because probably no media functionary covering the campaigns, and very few candidates, if any, have ever served in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor are their children there.

Maybe the most accurate campaign slogan for 2010 should be "War--it's for someone else".

I could not find much in the way of a debate about the phony deficit "crisis" and the foolish presidential debt Commission. Today's NYTimes has a buried story about the Commission with this little nugget:

The panel is not considering higher income tax rates given Republicans' resistance.

So, after 30 years of looting the American people, there is apparently no chance that the richest among us will end up paying a bit more in taxes--not to address the phony deficit crisis but simply as a matter of equity. Wow. As Bill Gates, Sr. says, "The rich guys don't want to pay the tax.".

Where was the debate about that? Late in the game, we heard a glimmer of the debate about the extension of the disastrous Bush tax cuts. But, it was a whimper.

We are letting people like Angelo Mozilo walk away, filthy rich, after scamming thousands of people--and, yet, candidates did not want to, beyond a passing slogan or brief mention, wonder whether the anger coursing around the country is understandable--misplaced, for sure--but understandable in the sense that people across the political specturm are right: we've been ripped off. Not by our "socialist" president and "government" but by the relentless belief in the so-called "free market" which has been a clever cover for the plundering of our nation's wealth by a handful of people.

And, now, apparently, the very people who advanced that implausible, foolish and destructive "free market" ideology for the sake of an argument used to justify the looting of America--they will regain even more power. And too many Democrats have played footsie with that very ideology so, please, spare me the hand-wringing--you guys didn't have the spine (I'd use a different word but I try to keep these things "family friendly") to stand up to the people who finance your campaigns so a lot of you personally deserve to get your heads handed to you, even though that means we are in for a word of hurt. This isn't a critique of the party now or this president--it's something that has undermined justice in America for decades.

The Federal Reserve Board is about to try to yank the economy out of a descent into deflation and deeper unemployment by intervening in an almost unprecedented fashion--yet where was the debate about the Fed's role? Or what do the morons who are clamoring that the "government is spending too much" plan to do when unemployment continues to damn an entire generation or two to economic and psychological wounds? Oh, I remember: cut taxes and help "small business"...because that has such a great track record of success?

Nancy Pelosi has gotten alot of crap lately. I don't agree with her all the time. But, which other major Democratic national leader has said NO to raising the retirement age to decrease the cost of Social Security to the federal budget? NONE. Not the president, Not Harry Reid. Why were Democrats not campaigning around the country among seniors--who were being lied to by Republicans about the effect of the health care bill--pledging not to increase the retirement age, and pointing out that it would be hard to find a single person who was advocating to increase the retirement age who had ever worked a 9-5 job wage-earning job, or a physical labor job or any job where the ability to finally retire at a reasonable age was not some gold-watch gift or cozy handout but a sign that we live in a society where we can say to people that after almost five decades of work everyone should be able to dial back a bit and take a deep breathe.

In New York state, we have a candidate who will likely be elected governor--a Democrat--who made it a point of pride that if elected, he would take care of those damn public sector unions. Excuse me, which party do I belong to? The party that is willing to make it clear that our fiscal holes have been caused by a looting of the national wealth by a band of plutocrats--and demand that they pay up? Or is it the party where too many candidates are so wrapped up in their singular goal of getting elected to office that they lose any touch with reality?

And, now, we are going to have to go through a repeat, boring exercise of hearing from the "centrists" that they are the only sensible direction in between the "liberals" and the "conservatives". That is, being "business friendly" and "realistic about entitlements" etc. etc...We already went that route in the 1990s--and we got "free trade", NAFTA, asset bubbles, two immoral wars (it is true, I may be one of the few hold-outs left that does not remember the Clinton Administration in a fond way). Seriously? You want to have that debate again? And ignore the draining of our economic wealth into a few hands. Geez, even David Stockman admits that the top five percent in the country are worth $40 TRILLION.

Oh my god. Where to begin...there is so much work to do.

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