Monday, January 25, 2010

A Very Bad Week for America

America and democracy just had a very bad week.

The biggest headlines were garnered by the truly shocking victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts.  Brown won the Senate seat that had been held for decades by Teddy Kennedy and will represent the only state to vote for George McGovern.

That surprise was the result of democracy in action.  The people of Massachusetts have spoken and it is what it is.  The bad part is that somehow the will of the people doesn't matter any more in the Senate.  For the first time in my lifetime, it now takes 60 votes to pass anything.  Now that Brown has joined the 40 other GOP Senators from the Confederacy and the Wilderness states, they can essentially make sure that nothing happens in Congress this year even though they represent states that have just 20 percent of the population.

In short, the will of 80 percent of Americans can be thwarted by representatives of 20 percent due to a quirk in Senate rules.  I'm pretty sure that's not what the Founding Fathers--or anyone else--had in mind.  Not good for America.

Then the Bush-stacked Supreme Court checked in with a 5-4 ruling that gives corporations the right to spend an unlimited amount of money on political advertising.  During the health care reform debate we have already seen how little corporations care about the welfare of the people and how much they care about promoting their own profits.

More than $500 million has been spent on Congressional health care lobbying by the drug and health care companies.  That's about $1 million per member of Congress.  That's over and above the millions that the drug and health care companies recently contributed to the campaigns of Max Baucus and Charles Grassley, the ranking members of the Senate committee that gutted the final bill.

As a result, we will end up with either no health care reform at all or some watered-down version that will accomplish little.  This is occurring at a time when 50 million Americans are uninsured and more than half of all personal bankruptcies are due to a catastrophic illness.  No one who is not on Medicare is happy with their health care insurance which costs more and more each year and covers less and less.

The Constitution begins with the words "We the People"--not We the Corporations. It seems like a strained interpretation at best to grant profit-making companies unlimited access to mind-bending advertising in the name of free speech. At the end of the day, we will certainly end up with more lies, distortions, and half-truths designed to get Americans whipped up and angry over provisions that are probably in their best interest but which might cost companies profits. Not good for America.

Finally, it seems that pundits on both sides of the aisle have deemed Obama's presidency an abject failure and are counting the minutes for just three more short years before we can replace the bum.

I find all this fascinating and yet another step forward in the lies and distortions become fact mode of our media and the perpetually angry people who are...well, perpetually angry.

I mean we do have a president who has put in place economic policies that caused the stock market to rise more than 60 percent creating more than $5 trillion in net worth for average Americans. That 10 month rally began at a time when most experts were advising investors to put their money in safe t-bills at zero percent after their portfolios had already been destroyed.

He is also a president who has made it very hard for the terrorists around the world to raise money or recruit new suicide bombers since he has reached out to dialogue with our international friends and enemies instead of lecturing and threatening them. His earning the Nobel Peace prize was not all that popular on Fox News but it was a good sign that the rest of the world appreciates what he has been doing.

But the election in Massachusetts and the reaction of the media and markets is sending a message to our friends and enemies that the American people may not be firmly behind our president anymore. As a result, our creditors (the same friends and enemies around the world) have pulled back from our markets causing the biggest one week decline of the year in stock prices. Not good for America.

So we've had a rough week. That much I know for sure. As far as the deeper meaning of all these developments is concerned I don't really have a clue. As always, I'm pretty sure that most of the pundits have it wrong. I'm also completely certain that the anger that I see in emails, blogs, and the broadcast media will only rise since there seems to be so much money to be made from that approach.

As far as the long term impact is concerned, we'll all just have to stay tuned. But there IS one thing I know for sure.

None of it is good for America.


simgel said...

Good one Larry. Couldn't agree more.

Judy May said...

And that's the way it is . . . so very bad for all of us.

Good piece, Larry.