"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Obama on Economic Justice

Friday, February 08, 2008

Obama on Economic Justice

Today I joined 18,000 neighbors at a the Key Arena to see Barack Obama. The stadium was a multicolored sea. From my perch in the nosebleed section, the packed stadium resembled an enormous multi-colored braided rug, the kind they sell in the Land's End catalog. When the "wave" came through, it was like a strong wind ruffling the human rug.

It was thrilling, to say the least.

And so was Barack Obama. His wide-ranging speech was constantly interrupted by roars of approval, and only later, in this video was I able to catch all his words. I recommend watching the whole thing if you have time.

I found this particularly interesting:

"I believe in the free market, I believe in entrepreneurship, and I believe in capitalism. It is the most dynamic economy ever devised. But when CEOs are making more in 10 minutes than ordinary workers are making in a year, and it's the CEOs who are getting the tax breaks and ordinary workers are left holding the bag, something is out of balance."

"We need to restore a sense of balance in our country . . . . if you work in this country, you should not be poor."

Here are some startling statistics:

In 2006, 36.5 million people were in poverty, and 35.5 million Americans lived in "food insecure" households, 22.8 million adults and 12.6 million children. On any given night in America, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless, according the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

Poverty in America is considerably higher today than it was in the 1970s and children are especially affected. The U.S. lags behind other developed countries in this area. While Denmark and Finland lead 26 participating OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries with child poverty rates below 3 percent, Mexico and the United States are at the other end of the spectrum, both with child poverty rates of more than 20 percent.

The above is from this article decrying the media's silence about this issue.

I'm glad our candidates are talking about economic justice.

I'd like to know what you think about it.


  1. I get goosebumps when I listen to Obama speak. I think what he says resonates with many Americans. What he says is true. The last seven years have put us into an appalling MESS. I'm feeling hopeful that our country will be going in a better direction.

  2. Free higher education for everyone, free health care for everyone. Sounds great but who will pay?
    Ceo saleries will come down and low level worker saleries will go up. How? Will Obama nationalize private Corporations to accomplish this?
    No more homeless? How? Mental health and/or substance abuse account for the majority of homelessness. What would he do. It is against the law to arrest or otherwise try to institutionalize homeless people against their will.
    Bring all US troups home from Iraq and Afghanistan within the first 90 days of his administration. What happens then. Do we look the other way as the Iraqi's who were friendly to the US are slaughtered by the thousands? Do we look the other way as Iran moves into the vacuum and takes over Iraq and their oil. Will this help lower oil prices, as Obama has promised?Will terrorists stop hating us if we pull out?

    If Obama can accomplish all the things he promises, surely he has a plan! Has anyone thought to question him on specifics? Anyone!!! Anyone?

    Obama is a charismatic speaker and has inspired many to follow him. But doesen't it take plans and policies in order to get things done? Does anyone really believe he can change things just by talking?

    OK, let the flaming begin! 4eyes

  3. to 4eyes

    Amen and amen! It is very easy to be dazzled with promises but one must look deep. I agree that we had NO BUSINESS going to Iraq but we are there now. That is what must be dealt with. We cannot in good conscience "just run out".

    I also have very disturbed feelings about 2 families running the county for 3 or so decades if we end up with Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton. And I've never been a republican.
    Dilemma City

  4. Daisy, you should have seen the caucus in my neighborhood yesterday. More than twice the expected turnout, and 2 to 1 in favor of Obama. The atmosphere was electric.

    And to 4-eyes and Anonymous, please give the rest of us credit for thinking with our heads, not just our hearts.

    Obama is not promising free higher education for everyone, but tuition credits in exchange for national service. He is not promising to "nationalize" private corporations, but give incentives for locating labor here, not overseas.

    Obama does not claim he'll end homelessness, or cure cancer and AIDS and poverty. He does not claim that removing our military from Iraq will be without consequences.

    His policies are deeply principled and more detailed than the mainstream media will report.

    This country is not only in dire need of moral leadership, but of moral followership.

    Please take the time to read Obama's policies, and compare them to his rivals.

  5. Free, If you wish the conservative contributors here would give credit to the more liberal element for thinking with their heads and not just their hearts, then perhaps you should extend the same courtesy to the other side of the aisle as well. Just because some people disagree with you and determine that a conservative path is the right one does not mean that they are unenlightened, emotional, and illiterate. That comment of yours was condescending at best.

    BTW, I'm backing Huck, even though I don't think he's got a chance of getting the nod. He's the only candidate that has not engaged in mudslinging rhetoric, and I think he is a decent man, someone who has actually run a branch of government, and who is not a Washington insider. He also seems to be able to live his faith unapologetically. If he doesn't get the nod, this will probably be the first time since I've been eligible to vote that I won't cast a vote for president, because my conscience will not allow me to vote for McCain, Clinton, or Obama.

  6. cvow, it might surprise you that even though I strongly support Obama, I have a great deal of respect for Huckabee as well. It's rare to see a strong social conservative who is also willing to invest aggressively in children's education and poverty initiatives. I'm thrilled that these social justice issues are starting to gather bipartisan support. I give Huckabee a great deal of credit for bucking the trend of so many Republicans and standing up for "the least of these."

    (You can thank NPR's in-depth coverage of all the candidates for informing me about Huckabee's stances on poverty and education while he was the governor of Arkansas. ;-)

    4eyes, there is a wealth of information on Obama's web site outlining all of his policies, as well as how he plans to pay for it. None of the candidates go into a lot of detail in their stump speeches. But the details do exist and are readily available for anyone interested.

    When I evaluate a candidate, the first thing I do is try to read or hear in their own words what their positions are. Then I do research to find out what their critics are saying about them. Very often I'll find that there is "spin" in both places. Taking both sides into account I try to develop my own sense of the facts behind the spin, and make a decision based on that sense and how it accords with my own values and priorities.

    It's essential not to take a partisan's word for it (on either side.) A presidential election is an appeal to the masses, and often an emotional appeal. While I believe it is far better to appeal to our hopes and dreams (Obama) than to our greatest fears (Bush) a reasoned conclusion will require some work on our parts.

  7. If you read Obama's positions on almost everything (yes I have read them) you will see his answer for almost everything is to throw money at it. Most of this money is in the form of refundable tax credits. I can see no way of paying for any of it without massive tax increases, and no there aren't enough "rich" taxpayers to pay more to pick up the slack. Read his proposals and you see :double funding for child aftercare, increase the EITC, increase child care tax credit, give a $500.00 refundable tax credit to 150 million taxpayers, whew!!

    Who is going to pay? Liberal rhetoric cannot create funding!

    Cvow, I too support Huck, but doubt he has much of a chance. Most people don't seem to like an openly religious politician. I find it refreshing for him to be socially conservative, and still care deeply about the environment, education, health care and jobs.

    If he doesn't make it, I'll be hard pressed to vote for McCain, and I will not vote for Obama or Clinton!

  8. Currently we are "throwing money" at the Iraq occupation, at the rate of $275 million per day. That's $4,100 per household. And costs may end up at over a trillion dollars (double what has already been spent).

    Imagine what that money could be doing.

    According to World Bank estimates, $54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth.

    At the upper range of those estimates, the $611 billion cost of the war could have fed and educated the world's poor for seven years.

    How does John McCain plan to fund troops in Iraq for a hundred years?

  9. We've had troops in South Korea for over 50 years. I don't know how much that costs, but I also don't hear anyone complaining about it. It's not how long troops are deployed, it's whether we are sustaining casualities. Do you think south Korea is better or worse off having our troops there all these years? Compare the economies and living conditions of the North Koreans to their South Korean counterparts. No comparison.

    By the way, I don't condone staying in Iraq any longer than necessary, but definitely can't see the wisdom of withdrawal without stabilizing that country.
    Also, the money spent in Iraq pays for military salaries, food, travel expenses, materials, weapons, planes, ships, etc., etc.
    Much of that money goes right back into the American economy.
    If either Democrat is elected, better hold on to your wallet!

  10. For what it's worth, here are some of Obama's ideas for restoring fiscal discipline to Washington. It's a bit of a red herring, though, given how much the Republicans have run up the deficit during the last 8 years. Even if the economy hadn't gone bad the Iraq war is still a huge un-funded mandate.

    As a fiscal conservative it is important to me to balance the budget and pay down the debt. Since I don't see much chance of that happening no matter who gets elected though, that issue doesn't play a large role for me in this election.

  11. The money spent on Iraq may go back into the economy, but money is being cut from so many other places where it was helping people who needed it. It's been taken out of education, child nutrition, daycare assistance--things that help lower-income families get on their feet so they can work and support their households. Not to mention all the young men dying for an unnecessary war.

    You say hold on to your wallet if a Democrat gets elected? I checked mine and it's already been cleaned right out! Just as an example, we spend significantly more money on groceries now than we did six years ago when we had twice as many people in the house. Gas is almost three times the price it used to be. Utilities have doubled. The cost of almost everything is going up, and people are getting their jobs cut and their benefits cut.

    Big business is getting bigger, and the little people are getting hurt in every area. People keep saying that the economy is getting better, but I'm not seeing it.

    I can't see the logic in the argument of not voting for Obama because "he has all these big ideas and no way to pay for them," because the last seven years we've been spending all this money on the war and driving the country into the ground.

    If we just vote for more of the same, we'll just keep going deeper into the same black hole. We'll never get back to middle ground. We have to start somewhere. I'm tired of the status quo. I'm ready for change.

  12. Many Trails Home2/11/2008 01:16:00 AM

    I'm going to say something completely off the wall here. I hope Obama does not get elected for two reasons: 1. To save his life. There is a terrifying racist element out there that may have him assassinated before he is even sworn in. 2. To protect him from blame. If the economy heads into full recession (or depression), whoever is in the White House is likely or certainly to take the blame, no matter what. I'd rather see a Republican nailed with the consequences of Republican actions. How's that for contrarian? MTH

  13. My son said the same thing to me. He said there is a powerful "old boy network" out there that will not allow Obama or Hillary to remain president. I started to argue that I think the country has grown enough to allow someone other than an "an old white boy" to lead us, but it has planted that seed of horror and wonder in my mind. Now to read it on this blog; makes me wonder if he was right. He said "the country may have grown to get them elected, but they will never serve full term". I hope he is wrong. In light of the little leaks that we always get about things going on in our government, I'm worried.

  14. Hmmmm....conspiracy theory before the event! Wow! I'm trying to understand this train of thought, but am failing. Should our brightest and best refuse to step up to lead because they might be hurt?

    While there certainly is plenty of racial and sexual hatred still rampant in this country, I certainly wouldn't dare stretch to this limit. There have been assassination attempts on every sitting president since Nixon. (I don't recall one on Johnson, so I think that's where the line breaks.) All of those targets have been white males, some Republican, some Democrat, different faiths, etc. The common thread is that they were preseident and somebody tried to kill them.

    Notice how this plays out around the world as well. As often as it is some dictator that is overthrown in a coup, it is a peacemaker that pays the price -- Mahatma Gandhi, Anwar Sadat -- or the ones who have a hope of bringing order out of chaos -- Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and Benazir Bhutto just being some of the most recent. (Funny how a country that is so proud of it's non-confrontational way of gaining independence -- India -- is among the best at killing off its leaders.)

    This world is not a friendly place, and there are a lot of crazy people out there. It takes great courage to stand up in the face of it. (The ultimate was Teddy Roosevelt who was shot during a speech in 1912, yelled out "Quiet, I've been shot!"...and continued to give the speech.) I am sure that Obama and Hillary and all of the others who aspire to the presidency realize the risk they take, and they should be admired for their courage and convictions, even if we might not agree on the details.

    You know what scares me just as much as some undetermined future event? The fact that convicted assassins are walking around free. Jimmy Carter started the ball rolling with his pardon of Collazo (who tried to kill Truman), and Sarah Jane Moore (who tried to kill Ford), was also pardoned. John Hinckley might as well be free with his low supervision trips home. (Oh wait, that's right, he was not guilty due to insanity.) How in the world can someone who has attempted to kill someone else ever be set free?

  15. Energy prices drive up the price of everything. Let's face it, gasoline , natural gas and home heating fuel are at all time highs. And guess what? No matter who is elected in November, that will continue and get worse. Why? China and India have fast growing economies and are now competing for the world's oil and natural gas, as are other developing countries. Those prices will only go up in the foreseeable future, no matter what Washington does. The answer is energy independence, which will be a very slow process. George Bush has not done nearly enough in this area and that along with his non-existant immigration policy are failures of his administration. No argument there. But anyone who thinks that renewable energy is going to be cheaper has not looked at the cost of these alternatives. Wind farms are very expensive to build and the maintainence costs are very high. Just look at the UK. Solar power is clean but very, very, expensive in practice. I believe that Nuclear power is the way to go, if we can solve the waste problem and get the environmentalists on board.

    I know I am rambling on, but my point is, whoever is elected in November is not going to be able to bring down energy prices. All of the rhetoric about investing in green technology is fine and necessary, but that is all long term. High energy prices are here to stay for a long time.

    My issues in a presidential candidate are:(not in any particular order)

    1. Strong national defense, including the stabilizing of Iraq and Afghanistan..
    2. Secure the border with Mexico.
    3. Affordable health care similar to Medicare part D, sold by private insurers but with government oversight.
    4. Energy independence.
    5. Environmental stewardship.
    6. Fix public education once and for all.
    7. No tax increases.
    8. Tax deductions for private school and college tuition expenses.
    9. Pro life, Pro marriage.

    That's it for now.

  16. I read a number of blogs on the topic of economics, trying to get a handle on the credit cruch, oil surge, recession fears, etc. One of these bloggers had an interesting take on Obama and U.S. economic policies today, especially regarding changing U.S. attitudes towards debt and our "moral obligations" both here and abroad. He's a libertarian Ron Paul supporter, but he thinks Obama is going to win the nomination and the election. Here's an excerpt of some of the questions he's asking:

    The moral obligations of walking away from Iraq

    Do we have a moral obligation to spend money in Iraq after we blew it to smithereens?
    Do we have a moral obligation to admit mistakes and stop wasting lives of soldiers?
    Do we have a moral obligation to repair the decaying infrastructure of the US instead of attempting to be the world's policeman?
    Do we have a moral obligation to the Citizens of the US to get out of the region, given that being in the region dramatically escalates the risk of terrorism against the US?
    Do we have a moral obligation to stop wasting billions of dollars in jet fuel flying needless missions all over the world when crude oil prices are so high?
    Is there a moral obligation to let Europe and Japan defend themselves rather than depending on US overseas bases and US taxpayer dollars to defend them?
    Is there a moral obligation for the US to walk away from Europe and Japan with so many suffering here?

    Where people "draw the line" on walking away is going to play a major role in determining the next president of the United States.

    Full article: Obama: The Next President Of The United States, by Michael Shedlock

  17. MTH,
    You hope Obama will not get elected so he won't get blamed for the bad economy? If you are an Obama supporter, that is really a strange position to take! I bet he is willing to take blame if given the chance to be president!

    As far as assassination is concerned, I don't agree that either Hillary or Obama will be under any more danger than, for example, George Bush is now. There are many people out there that hate Bush, and unfortunately, no matter who is elected in November, their safety will be a concern.

  18. cvow, I had to look outside to see if the moon was blue, because I actually agree with you on something! :-) Yes, it takes courage to run for office, and no matter who wins, they risk becoming the target of violence and hatred.

    Every day, each of us has to choose between hope and fear, for example when we get on the freeway and put our lives in the hands of morons in 1/2-ton skull-crushers with their PDA in one hand and a Big Mac in the other.

    We have to have hope to buckle up and drive.

    Now for those of you feel this election puts you between a rock and a hard place, Pat Buchanan (conservative Christian) has some advice:

    "If you've got a Hillary and McCain race, you've got a third option: That's the pistol on the bed table." (MSNBC)

    Presumably, Buchanan is advocating suicide, not homicide.

  19. One more link, this time to a Wall Street Journal article about Barack Obama's wife, Michelle.

    I'm very impressed with her, more so than any prospective First Lady (or gentleman) in a long time.

    Michelle Obama Solidifies Her Role in the Election

  20. Stylux here...

    Well, I see the class envy card and the “America is a racist country” card is alive and well with my friends on the left.

    Several observations are in order here:

    After over four decades of warring on poverty and billions spent we have the specter of a moving target of not only the poverty level but also the numbers of people living in poverty. If it is true that poverty is getting worse then we can all admit that the government programs have been a stupendous failure and we ought to terminate them. This is a favorite of those opposed to personal responsibility…. Blame the CEO’s and corporations whenever we feel bad about someone not having enough money. One of the enduring characteristics of America is that we have a very fluid system when it comes to class. People move in and out of all class levels and that is the beauty of a meritocracy and capitalism. Most of the poverty statistics do not take into account the numerous benefits that are available to those in need. I still look forward to the day when we blame Barbara Streisand, Susan Sarandon and Johnny Depp for the sad state of financial affairs of the poor grip who lugs around power cords for the evil movie producers. The stars are commanding sinful salaries while the rest of the stiffs are eating at In and Out.

    At the present, the top 5 percent of taxpayers are paying 50 percent of the taxes and the bottom 40 percent pay no taxes. When you rely on the government for the solutions to problems be aware that there isn’t enough money to give you what you need. The state will certainly tell you what you need and take your money to pay for it. Liberty? I don’t think so. The term economic justice means the tyranny of the state taking what is yours and giving it to someone else.

    While it is certainly true that we have racists in this country and heaven forbid that something should happen to Obama at the hands of one of these nuts, it will not prove that we are a racist country. When Obama can command a win in a predominantly white state such as Iowa, it should be obvious to everyone that they are voting on something other than race. How about if we stop all the group think and consider merit for one’s candidacy.

    I noticed that one of the tenets of the medical plan proposed by Clinton is to force younger people into the system by making them be paying contributors. Fascinating.

  21. I assume you'll be sending me your rebate check, Stylux, since you'll be standing self-sufficiently on your own two feet free of any government handouts? ;-)

    I'll admit that the rebates are a dumb idea, suggested by a Republican president as the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine of huge bank bailouts in the form of buying jumbo mortgages.

  22. Tomte..

    Stylux again.

    You have my agreement that the rebates are a dumb idea and I am certainly disappointed in the Republican participation in this useless populist move. I'll be happy to send you mine. (I will not be eligible so you won't be getting much.) In return for my magnanimous intention, you should agree to send in an extra check on April 15th instead of calling for an across the board tax increase on everyone else. Incidentally... a philosophical question... Does it concern you that we have nearly 40% of the electorate paying no income taxes at all to the fed? What if this number gets to 60%? Is it equitable... morally... that someone paying no taxes should be voting on tax rates for the ones that do pay?

  23. Ah Stylux, it is certainly good to have you back!

    So much boils down to folks wanting to take from the evil corporations and wealthy. I cannot think of a single instance of when leveling the money has ever solved anything. The Soviet Union tried that -- sort of -- and failed miserably. When I was in India, I told some of my western friends of the plight of the Indian people (and if you haven't been there, you cannot comprehend it, regardless of how hard you try), and my friends asked why the general Indian population didn't rise up against the extremely rich of the country. I explained it is simple mathematics. They certainly could have that uprising, and then all of the bajillion Indians would have six more rupees, and then everybody would be poor and there would be no jobs and no factories and no hope whatsoever. Hmmm.....

  24. Maybe things wouldn't be so bad if the business owners cared a little more about the economic lives of their employees, and a little less about constantly fattening their own wallets. If they didn't pay themselves their excessive, sinful salaries and passed that on to their employees, there would be a better balance and less of a problem. I know business owners that complain about paying their employees health insurance while they themselves have so much money they are always looking for new ways to spend it. If they just cut down on the lifestyle just a little it would pay for the health insurance. The only problem I see with these business owners or CEO's is GREED. They never have enough...they're always hungry for more. The business owners I know don't like paying the health insurance, even though they currently have more than they could ever need, because they would rather have that money in their pocket too. If their employees would work for free, so they (the owners) could wine and dine even more at their expense, that would make them the happiest.

  25. I know it's not a huge deal relative to the nation as a whole, but it says something about our morals as a people and how we relate this to what the Bible says or at least what I think it says...so I pose these questions: How do you all feel about same sex marriage and the homosexual population? Would you support a candidate who does not support gay people or same sex marriages? How about benefits for same sex marriages?

  26. Many Trails Home2/12/2008 06:59:00 AM

    Hi Stylux. Say, if you are referring to what I said with your "racist country" remark, you do not do yourself credit. I merely said there is a "terrifying racist element" and that is certifiably true. But there are a lot of other "terrifying" elements to some folks - like the specter of homelessness resulting from stupid mortgage commitments.
    To 4eyes: the energy issue is a current "obsession" of mine (OK, Stylux, have a go at it) and I try to get my head above the smog to get a clear fix on things. You are right in that energy costs will continue to rise, inexorably (not for "a long time" but for the foreseeable future), due to demand exceeding supply worldwide. In my opinion, our economy is destined to falter hugely as a direct result. It is faltering.
    But a couple of comments: nuclear energy is also non-renewable, and do we have the right to produce large amounts of radioactive toxins that last 10,000 years? If I were God, I'd say "No." And in any case, how is nuclear power going to keep the "happy motoring public" on the roads? Will we also use it to heat our homes?
    Factoid: (from The Week magazine): In 2007, Exxon-Mobil made more money than any company in the history of the world (I used to work for Mobil decades ago). However, despite that, they actually sold less petroleum products than the year before. Less. That is one indication that the supply side is shrinking in the face of rising demand. Buckle up, folks. MTH

  27. Stylux, for me a fair tax system (not to be confused with the "Fair Tax" proposed by Huckabee, which I consider to be extremely shifty) is one where everyone feels an equal measure of "pain."

    Why is pain a good thing? I think it will:

    1) Ensure that taxes don't rise too high too fast
    2) Ensure "buy in" on all levels to keep government accountable

    Insofar as people who don't pay taxes don't care about the tax system, I think it has been a bad policy idea to effectively eliminate taxes for any group on the spectrum.

    That said, I'm not nearly as concerned about taxes as I am about the deficit and the debt. My number one issue this time around is the war in Iraq, and voting out anyone who supported the original authorization.

  28. tomte...

    Stylux again.

    Regards your comment on the current tax policy... we agree.

    MTH... easy now... I wasn't directing it at you as it was a general comment on the current Democratic debate. One of the good things about the Obama campaign is that it puts a lie to the long held belief that we live in a racist country. This is considerably different to the fact that we have racists among us. I differ from you in that I am not terrified by that small element. I would use the word "terrify", though in my characterization of the Islamic fanatics. (Notice I did not include all Muslims.

    On energy... I still have my faith in the ingenuity of humanity to come up with energy solutions. Prices will rise and they will rise alot and this mechanism will be the catalyst for all types of adjustment on our part and innovations as well. I am not nearly as pessimistic as you sound regarding nuclear energy.

  29. Any responses to what RWB said above:

    I know it's not a huge deal relative to the nation as a whole, but it says something about our morals as a people and how we relate this to what the Bible says or at least what I think it says...so I pose these questions: How do you all feel about same sex marriage and the homosexual population? Would you support a candidate who does not support gay people or same sex marriages? How about benefits for same sex marriages?

  30. My response to this:

    Romans 1:24-27.. changing the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator..vile affections..women did change the natural use into that which is against nature, and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another.

    This, among other things, leads to a reprobate mind which God allows them to have, in which they are not able to see sin in anything anymore, but revel in their acts of rebellion.

    There is another passage where Jesus prophesies about the last times, and homosexuality is mentioned. I thought it was in Matthew but not finding it.

    It is a sign of the age we are living in and I believe it is a sin. Nothing we see in our culture should be a surprise, and it's going to get worse before it gets better, if ever, before Christ's return.

  31. Stylux, I hope your faith is rewarded. I have none, re the ability of the capitalist system to generate viable, deployable, timely, adequate energy solutions.
    We agree that prices will "rise, and rise a lot." So I have one Q for you: Do you think that our civilization can actually survive a "negative growth" phase, re GDP etc? The news in the capital markets keeps going from grim to grimmer and I wonder what grimmest looks like. I personally think that our economy is one big pyramid scheme that can no longer continue to grow (as it was fueled by cheap energy, a thing of the past). If growth is REQUIRED, what happens when it is no longer possible? Answer me that one. MTH

  32. MTH...

    Stylux here.

    Do you think that our civilization can actually survive a "negative growth" phase, re GDP etc?


    If growth is REQUIRED, what happens when it is no longer possible?

    Societies with naturally growing populations should experience growth in their economies as measured by GDP. The threat to our economy comes from the massive numbers of people who feel that it is not necessary to work and consequently feel that everything will be taken care of by the government. The government produces nothing and everything it "gives" comes from someone who has produced and has had it stolen by the power of the state.

    We have discussed the energy problem before and I realize that we have a fundemental difference. I have not quite figured out why you... a very productive person... is so pessimistic about energy. We grew up in a time of rather cheap energy and acquired many of our behaviors as a consequence. Now energy is getting more expensive and I am changing and so are most people. We can adapt... we will adapt... and we can innovate as we have done for thousands of years. The market has a remarkable ability to shed outmoded ways of thinking and behaving and making change necessary. An interesting question for you is this... Why do so many who have your take on the energy issue oppose virtually any solution to the problem short of giving up cars and walking. Consider the opposition to wind power coming from the environmentalists. Consider the oppostion to nuclear power coming from the environmentalists. I really don't think any solution short of massive regression would be satisfactory. If the thought of growth is so fatiguing... fine... but why impede those who think differently?

  33. Hi Stylux, I can't answer for your generic "environmentalists" and I don't think I can be accused of "impeding those who think differently." What concerns me most is those who don't think at all.
    As for your hallowed "market," I don't trust the market one bit, as it does not for one thing take into account environmental and resource depletion costs. I personally think (pessimist that I am) that we are in fact in for a "massive regression" and I will be surprised if you don't call me an "enlightened prophet" one of these days, in the near future (don't pin me down, I'm not actually Cassandra). Believe me, I don't relish the idea of suffering any more than anyone else, but I think we are in for it. Better pay off your mortgage, Stylux. MTH

  34. Welcome Stylux from your east coast cuz and cuz in-law! Hope you and spouse are well!

    I also believe our economy is hampered by the left wing thinking of big government, high taxes and government re-distribution of wealth.

    Unfortunately, with an unpopular President, unpopular war, high energy prices, a porus southern border, and lagging economy, I believe the Spendocrats could run Woody Woodpecker in Nov. and win.

    It's goin to be very interesting!!

    Again, welcome back , Stylux.

  35. MTH...

    Actually... if we are going to go down when the well runs dry, why not do it with a big mortgage. I think I'll take out a second, retire early, buy a cottage in the Andes and leave the payments for the fed to pick up.

    "As for your hallowed "market," I don't trust the market one bit, as it does not for one thing take into account environmental and resource depletion costs."

    I take mild umbrage at your implication that this is a religious experience for me. I tend to like what works and the market does work quite well. And it does take disposal costs into account and depletion into account. That is one of the reasons that gas prices are rising... the demand side is stripping the supply side at the moment. I still wish that I could infuse a little optimism into your soul and trust me... if the time comes I won't hesitate to compliment you on your foresight. AND You didn't answer my question.

    4eyes... I might add that the only thing less popular than the president is congress. With such committed strong leadership from Pelosi, we are getting to the bottom of some serious problems... like baseball and steroids. Now there is an altar that I can bow down to.

  36. Getting back to the original topic for this thread, see this article about Obama, written back in 1995. He's been amazingly consistent in his philosophy of wanting people to take responsibility, creating grassroots movements from the ground up to transform society. He seems to be the real deal. He seems to have been saying what he's saying now his entire life; it's not just something he cooked up for the presidential race.

    Warning, lot's of straight talk and no-nonsense ahead:

    What Makes Obama Run?

  37. Stylux, I am not sure which Q I did not answer. As for "the demand side stripping the supply side 'at the moment'": demand has been exceeding supply for probably close to 3 years at least. The only thing that is likely to restore the balance is reduction in demand. I suspect that it is not possible for supply to climb. We don't need to worry about "when the well runs dry" but only when demand significantly exceeds supply.
    Data: According to the EIA, global oil production hit 84,000,000 barrels per day (M bbl/day) in July, 2005. Since July, 2005, there have only been 5 months when global production reached 85,000,000 bbl/day. So global oil production hit a plateau almost 3 years ago. This is in the face of 2% per year increase in demand from the US and 17% increase in demand from China (in 2006 I think). So someone is doing with less. When the curve actually starts to decline - even to 83,000,000 bbl/day, I think we will see some startling price increases. Then the dominoes will start to fall . . . . MTH

  38. tomte..

    With all the "goosebumps", Chris Mathews being overtaken by his inability to be objective and the latest... Mrs. Obama's speech at UCLA a couple of weeks ago wherein she lectured the students on the condition of their "soul"... It's looks like we are going to perhaps have the "coronation and installation of the blessed O'Bama" next January. Are any Dems bothered by the notion of the federal government fixing our "souls"? Religion in politics ain't half bad when the secular answer to the prophet is on your side... is it?

  39. Stylux and MTH, your tussles are illuminating. It seems to me that while we can be optimistic about ingenuity in alternative fuels, we should be realistic about unintended consequences (e.g. ethanol) and the urgent need for
    action. While the data don't look hopeful, pessimism promotes passivity, and that's the last thing we can afford. We need enlightened self-interest!

    4Eyes, GWB has presided over the three largest deficits IN HISTORY. It's time to revisit those cliches about liberal and conservative.

    Stylux, is class envy like race envy or gender envy or power envy? Are all issues of justice a matter of envy by the disenfranchised? Would it make them less valid?

    One thing I like about Obama is the refusal, so far, to use the shopworn rhetoric of left vs. right. He is clear about the responsibility of corporations, government, and citizens, and offers nobody a free pass.

    He knows an empowered, active electorate is the only solution to a corporate-owned government, and unlike John Edwards, who felt similarly but had a potty mouth (e.g., he had no problem saying "greed"), Obama's message is getting broad support.

    (Or maybe we Americans just have pride-envy. We want to be proud of our country again!)

    Anonymous asks if any Dems are bothered by the notion of federal government "fixing our souls" -- which seems a purposeful misreading of Obama's message.

    In Audacity of Hope, Obama is clear about (1) the need for the separation of church and state, and (2) the inclusion of all people, both secular and religious, in government, (3) the need for a public discussion of values.

    I am encouraged by his pluralistic vision and also by his belief that we share in common, as Americans, some fundamental values that transcend our differences.

    While I think Obama is genuine, I think he is smart like a fox, too. He should never have to talk about his faith, but that isn't what plays in Peoria.

  40. Free...

    Stylux here.

    I wrote the previous Anon comment and failed to indicate that it was me... an oversight.

    The comment regarding the soul issue as it pertains to Obama is not misreading. It came from a speech given by Mrs. Obama at UCLA where she questioned the condition of our "souls"... her word. Now, one can say that she is not the candidate and I should only pay attention to his words... however she has injected herself into the campaign and should be judged accordingly. She also said that her husband is the only one in America to right the ship.

    Your defense of the "class envy" card played by the left is interesting. I have lived through many campaigns and have heard the dems use this and the race card over and over again. What bothers me about this campaign is the anti-business tenor of it coming from all quarters... including McCain. This is incredibly short sighted and will not pay future dividends. It is not the responsibility of GM, IBM or Merck to assure that my life is OK. And if not... to blame drug companies or oil companies for my misfortune is simply wrong and silly.

    As far as hope coming from Obama... please spare me the opportunity to be saved by him. Unity, as espoused from the left, means that I have to sit down, hold hands, pay more taxes and wait for the government to save me from myself. This is not my credo and I feel sorry for those who depend on the politicians to structure their lives. Obama is clearly a good politician... but the level of fawning, spiritual awakening, and feel good stuff is what you find in the charismatic churches of the country. What I find interesting coming from the far left is the acceptance of this religious experience with no protest. Faith-based initiatives... Democratic style.

  41. Well, I disagree on all of that, no surprise. Michelle Obama is right to talk about the belief that America has lost its soul -- she is not advocating her religion above others, but saying our collective moral compass (and yes, we do have one as Americans) has taken a beating. That doesn't require religion, no more than the abolition of slavery did.

    It does require faith in justice.

    As for that anti-business tenor, listen more closely to Obama and McCain (and Huckabee for that matter) and see if it isn't specifically anti-greed. A moral compass that nurtures Enrons and Countrywides needs some tuning.

    Finally, don't worry about Obama trying to save you! You're doing all right. And so are most of us.

    But this year some 18,000 people who will die for lack of health insurance, many of them kids whose bootstraps are just too darn short for up-picking.

    Where is your compassionate conservatism, friend?

  42. Free…

    Stylux here to answer your questions.

    “Michelle Obama is right to talk about the belief that America has lost its soul -- she is not advocating her religion above others, but saying our collective moral compass (and yes, we do have one as Americans) has taken a beating. That doesn't require religion, no more than the abolition of slavery did.”

    Michelle stated in her speech that our “souls needed fixing”. Since when does a campaign for public office talk about souls and fixing and implicit in the comment is that they have a solution. This is pulpit stuff and not public policy stuff. I have often made the case on this blog and elsewhere that the left is a religion just like the Baptists and the Mormons and this is clearly proof. I don’t have a problem with religion in public discourse but to masquerade as a church without identifying it as such is a bit disingenuous. Incidentally, the Christian movement was very strong in eliminating slavery.

    "As for that anti-business tenor, listen more closely to Obama and McCain (and Huckabee for that matter) and see if it isn't specifically anti-greed. A moral compass that nurtures Enrons and Countrywides needs some tuning."

    I might note that 95% of the crimes committed by Enron were done so during the Clinton years and 100% of the prosecution took place during the Bush years. Please define greed for me and are you suggesting a Federal Greed Board so that bureaucrats can come up with an evolving definition?

    "But this year some 18,000 people who will die for lack of health insurance, many of them kids whose bootstraps are just too darn short for up-picking."

    Everyone has access to healthcare in this country and where in the world do you get your figures?

    Where is your compassion??? What level of taxation is too high??? When does your golden egg laying goose die, thereby robbing your political friends of giving more of someone else’s money away?? Who is going to pay for all your compassion?? Do you have any compassion left over for the ones paying the bill??? Why does compassion from the left always involve talk of people making too much, taking away from the rich, giving to someone else, buying them insurance even though they decided that it was not worth it for them to buy it themselves. How about if you, this year, buy some insurance for someone who decided not to buy it or getting a group of your friends to subsidize a group of people who cannot get it.

    The old saw of suggesting that the right lacks compassion... When will that one wear out. We on the right believe that those on the left are wrong... The left believes that those on the right are bad. If we could solve that dilemma the we could have some sense of unity.

    Sat Feb 16, 07:10:00 PM PST

  43. Stylux, I was needling you with that "compassionate conservative" line, because Bush RAN on that label, before he gave away the store and 135,511 American lives. To say nothing of the others.

    But Stylux, can we agree that generalizations about left and right are great fightin' words, but don't get us very far in understanding?

    Yes, there are those on the Left who wish presidential candidates would not talk about their faith or use religious metaphors.

    But there is a HUGE difference between someone claiming to speak for God (e.g., when Huckabee said Jesus is pro-death penalty) and someone using a religious metaphor for "conscience."

    If all the candidates are wearing clothes but some are in clown suits, naturally the clown suits will get some attention.

    As for Michelle Obama, here are her actual words from that speech:

    We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another — that we cannot measure the greatness of our society by the strongest and richest of us, but we have to measure our greatness by the least of these. That we have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done. That is why I am here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.

    Note that she puts the responsibility for the fix on us, not Obama.

    As for the 18,000 dead statistic, here is the source, a USA Today article about the Institute of Medicine's study on the impact of uninsurance on mortality.

    And here is an update.
    "In 2002, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimated that 18,000 Americans died in 2000 because they were uninsured. Since then, the number of uninsured has grown. Based on the IOM’s methodology and subsequent Census Bureau estimates of insurance coverage, 137,000 people died from 2000 through 2006 because they lacked health insurance, including 22,000 people in 2006."

    Note that 20% of the uninsured are children.

    I will continue to practice philanthropy, but personal charity, like an all-volunteer army, is good only as far as it goes.

    We can do better in this country, and under a new president (no matter who), I'm hopeful that we will.

  44. Can someone post a link to Michelle Obama's speech? It seems silly to sit around arguing about a point of fact (what she said) when posting a link to her speech would allow us to read it for ourselves and draw our own conclusions about whether or not it crossed a line.

    That said, I don't think simply saying "our souls need fixing" or "the soul of America" necessarily means a religious proscription for change. I've heard the term "soul" used in a purely secular sense as meaning "our deepest hopes and dreams." In this sense, I can say that something "touched my soul" and mean that it resonated with my deepest dreams, hopes, fears, and not mean anything specifically religous.

  45. The speech can be seen here.

  46. tomte...

    Stylux here...

    This is easy... Ask yourself what you would have said if Bush in any speech he gave would have referred to "fixing our souls". You can parse the words any way you like but it is your side of the aisle that has established the concept of "code words" and if anything is a code word for religiosity it is "soul".

  47. Well, I listened to the posted link. No mention of souls there. But it was only 1/3 of the speech, the first 1/3.

    Maybe it's on Stylux to provide a transcript since he's so concerned that a line was crossed.

    Without the broader context, it's impossible for me to render an opinion on whether a line was crossed. So far it looks like a tempest in a teapot to me, but I'm more than willing to re-evaluate after reading a transcript of the entire speech.

    Regarding Bush: Some of his use of biblical language and images disturbed me, some of it didn't. (He almost ruined some of the Psalms for me after listening to his "Axis of Evil" speech.) It all depends on what his goal was. If I felt the goal was troubling, or contradicted my own sense of what God wants from us, then I found it disturbing.

    I'd be the first person to warn against conflating what God wants with what the nation wants. At the same time, religious people have the freedom to express their values in their own terms.

    I'd be interested in hearing Stylux propose what the limits on relgious speech for presidential candidates and their surrogates are, and how those can be balanced with individual freedoms of speech and religion guaranteed by the Constitution. No easy task.

  48. tomte,
    Free provided the text of the passage in question a few messages up.

    How about this? If asked, a candidate can (not must) freely declare that he/she lives to a certain creed, and confess that that belief has a profound impact on their actions. (To say anything less would be an oxymoron -- to say you believe something but would not be affected by it is not a very strong witness to your beliefs.) Such a statement can be made without apology, and without having to withstand a grilling from others who do not share the belief. To me this is freedom of religion.

    So if I ever run for office (I won't, so stop worrying, Free!:-)), I will declare that I am a staunch Roman Catholic, and support and believe in the tenets of that faith. I will publicly state that makes me pro-life, anti-abortion, socially responsible, and fiscally conservative, and I will vote those lines. I will not apologize for it, and I do not expect anyone to grill me over it, or question the wisdom or the strength of my faith. If you don't like it, that's fine -- don't vote for me.

    Why can't we just accept what the candidates tell us. If Huckabee says he is a conservative Christian, why not accept that and decide whether that is one of the reasons we want to vote for him? If Michelle Obama wants to make reference to fixing our souls, why can't we just accept that as her (and assumedly her husband's) faith, and decide whether we want to vote for him? Mitt Romney is an avowed Mormon, so why can't we just accept that, and decide whether we want to vote for him? If all of their beliefs are repulsive to you, why not find someone who has not breathed a word about their faith and vote for them?

    We spend far too much time debating whether someone's professed ideals -- faith or otherwise -- are correct. I think what we should spend our time on is whether their professions make sense to us personally, are acceptable or not acceptable to us, and vote our conscience. The rest is just blathering -- like I've been doing here...

  49. Tomte,

    Stylux here… I have to keep id’ing myself because I am logging on as Anon.

    This is actually easy… I am perfectly comfortable with the discussion of religion in the marketplace of ideas be it a campaign or anywhere else. I raised the issue of Michelle Obama because of the criticism that the Republicans have received for not only what they say but also for the fact that so many leftists seem to be threatened by their fundamentalist constituencies. I have made the case on this blog and elsewhere that both the Reps and Dems invoke faith all the time in their eagerness to get votes. During the 60’s the Dems used black churches to their considerable advantage. We have only in the last 20-30 years have heard complaints from the left on this issue. As far as speech is concerned… have at it. No restrictions.
    So here comes a Dem candidate invoking “fixing our souls”… clearly religious references in her speech. Incidentally, I don’t look to candidates for soul fixing, charity, help or anything of the kind. I wouldn’t ask Huckabee or Obama for soul issues or any other candidate for that matter. I don’t care about that at all when it comes to politics… But I am not threatened by it. So let’s be consistent. Let’s stop contorting our logic in the defense of a Dem who is obviously using faith for votes by claiming that her speech had nothing to do with religion. It is interesting to note that if a Rep does it… somehow it violates all the constitutional protections about church and state separation and constitutes a dire threat. But if a Dem does it and I point it out, it’s dismissed as a mini tempest.

  50. Stylux, you know I agree with you. I'm just in an opinionated mood today, contrary to my normal, shy self.

  51. Stylux, context does mean something. Obama has been crystal clear about the need for the separation of church and state, so when he (or a surrogate) uses religious language, one doesn't fear the thunder of intolerance, unlike with certain politicians who invoked God to wage war, condemn gays, and claim American exceptionalism.

    My husband just laughed when I told him about this brouhaha. "Grasping at straws!" he said.

    I tend to agree.

  52. Oh, and Stylux, she said "WE have to fix our souls" not "Obama wants to fix your souls," no matter what Michelle Malkin would like to believe! There is a big difference.

  53. Free...

    Stylux here..

    Distinctions without differences.

  54. tomte...

    As it happens, your guy is starting to interest me. (I'll let Clinton tackle the plagarism issue... Borrowing from other speeches isn't really a big deal when you "have a movement to run".)

    It seems as though he may be sympathetic to the nuclear industry, which is a good thing. At least some executives from Exelon think so as they have been pouring money into his campaign.

  55. tomte...

    Stylux here.

    The previous anon post was by me and I neglected to indicate such. I must be careful with attributions these days. Incidentally, in researching a bit about Obama and his message of hope, I ran across pictures of him appearing with Sharpton. I got to wondering why the Dems have never drummed him out of the party on account of his involvement in the sordid Brawley affair. I am sure that Obama asked him about it. The call for unity would certainly require some pennance from Sharpton, the certified racist. Or is dredging up this affair another example of raising tempests in teapots and... anyway forgive me for my truclulence for even mentioning such old news.

    I should be honest the "I have a movement to run." quote actually came from Sharpton... while dismissing a question about the Brawley affair.