Mending The Social Contract

Once the social contract is broken–not stretched or shrank–but broken, people seek the barricades and pick sides for their own protection. Such was the fate of medieval Europe when the collapse of society allowed both robber barons and Florence to flourish, but left the populace fearful, weak, and exploited.

It’s not the “age” of a society, but the respect for its own traditions of success–in government and the market–that nurtures a new generation and creates a compelling vision that drives growth, jobs, and innovation. Without this, there is broad fail.
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The broad systemic failure has been hoisted on the President (as unsupported sarcasm or blame!), yet his first term was a mirror of our failure to face the destructive reflections within ourselves, or address the root causes. Obama has worked continuously and responsibly to bring a return to the American Promise and hold the center. Yet before the echo of his words faded, pundits accused him of partisanship.

Age, yes; but an age of greed. So blind and hungry for power that Jindal in Louisiana brags about saving millions as he cuts hospice care for families and forces people into higher price ICUs, splintering both government and the market as he crushes the life out of civil society. On voting, women’s healthcare, and public trust, states are failing to uphold the American Promise of a secure society, one with dignity for rich and poor. Their answer to the President’s call are petitions to secede.


A Nation In Search Of Policy

Can the conclusion be drawn that Republicans have hardened their position around ideology rather than policy? Policy advances national progress and growth and leads to job creation, security for families, and, yes, greater wealth.
Does using the debt ceiling as a threat to disrupt the government that supports the world’s largest economy advance these goals?

Graph of Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate - 20 to 24 years

The debt would decline rapidly if the economy begins growing at its historic rates. The jobs created and the economic expansion would not only create new revenues but also reduce the revenues spent on safety net programs.

Stagnation would rise rapidly when the world observes the US, its main economic engine, at risk. What benefit, near or far, is gained from a shut down of the economic authority of government? What benefit is gained by sudden, disruptive cuts in programs? Will it increase trade? Will it build factories? Will it lower social costs or simply transfer them to families whose income and productivity will be further reduced?

Even if re-invested, how long after the massive shock would it take for the economy to regain its footing? How would working families be affected?

One party seems to want to follow a course in which the means of reducing debt doesn’t preserve value but destroys the house. Is ideology confusing disruption and destruction with reduction–or is that its real intent?

Graph of Employment Level - 20 to 24 years

What do these two graphs tell you? One charts participation by age; the other unemployment? How are these trends combined? Leave a comment below!

Friends With Consequences

Caution: “In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. A tiny and closed fraternity of privileged men, elected by no one, and enjoying a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government,” said Spiro T. Agnew, the former Maryland Republican governor who is the only US Vice-President to resign facing criminal charges of bribery. Actually the two sentences don’t go together; the first was aimed at the kind of speech that President Obama gave on Monday.

00096045Louisiana’s governor just cut the state’s funds for end-of-life care, ending the benefits of hospice that allow dignity with death. The state’s costs will rise as end-of-life care will be provided in hospital ICUs. So costs or savings were never the issue for Jindal; he exercised power to break the public will and destroy the public good. Food stamps are labeled a part of irresponsible government, but the family budget withers with the raising price of milk when the House fails to pass a farm bill.

The latest debate is over politeness: Is Barack nice to Republicans? A reporter asked about his overtures of friendship during a press briefing. Resist the futility of scaling the American happiness meter. The President reminded the press, despite his “bon mots,” being friends with him can have consequences; he cited Florida’s Charlie Crist. Barack, our President, was correct. Back-slapping doesn’t advance the ball. Money and power does. To win forward, Democrats need both.

Fight Military Sexual Assaults

speierRep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) has consistently raised the specter of military sexual assaults across all branches and assignments of the uniformed services, citing cases each month from the floor of the House. Today, a general reported 60 confirmed cases of assault/inappropriate conduct at a Texas air base involving 32 instructors.

One veteran was quoted,“None of my friends who were raped on active duty reported it. Or if we tried, we were told to shut up for ‘morale.’ Working with your rapist on a daily basis isn’t a lot of fun,believe me.”

During the Civil War, rapists in uniform were hanged or shot. The Archives list 74 capital sentences for sexual assaults. Now, military women are more likely to be raped than killed by enemy fire. The Defense expert ignored a 2008 House committee subpoena and refused to testify. During the Iraq war, it was not safe for women to shower alone.

Military culture still blames victims. If some military men at the top are using power as an aphrodisiac, down through the ranks other military men escape accountability and scrutiny, and use force to make women submit to sex against their own will. This scandal should emerge from the shadows. Review the leadership but also focus on the entire culture, which is pervasive with violence against women. That will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the military, on women in service, and on the safety and security of women around the world.

The Changes Need Changing!

On mortgages, many changes have been ill advised. The focus is only complete documentation which has opened a pandora’s box; regulations and rules have actually removed safguards for non-discrimination in the decision process and in personal security for the information submitted.

For example. explanations are now required for apartment rentals and address changes going back a decade or more, independent of income and credit score. This new material, without explanation or standard, can be used to refuse mortgages to qualified applicants. Also, financial materials are submitted to brokers and underwriters without required legal safeguards for privacy protection. Staff desks and company warehouses have hard copy, complete records of individuals financial histories, without the protections extended to medical records.

In the zeal to ensure applications are no longer whole cloth, important protections have been lifted or not put in place, creating greater risks for applicants.