It’s Time to Turn, Turn, Turn and Look at Rick Perry’s Hair

So I heard from the Byrds (via the Bible) that things turn, turn, turn.

Here’s the Byrds…

And here’s the Bible…

16 ¶ And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

That’s some pretty good Bible, eh?  It’s the next verse after the Byrds sing.

This is the situation we are facing now, as a culture.  I mentioned it previously.

One of the big problems facing our country now is the internal division in the choice of directions to go.   This causes a problem, as in times of crisis NOT ACTING is an act, and it is an act that can cause many more problems than acting (even if that act turns out to be foolish).   And BTW, we are face more than just an economic crisis.  That’s a big one, but there’s a few more coming along in the next little bit that we still need to deal with (social security and the retiring boomers, the global climate change that simply refuses to act like isn’t solid science, a global war on cave-dwellers wondering why they keep getting bombed (and the few people who run the show who know), and some others, that’s just off the of the head.)

So there’s a bunch of stuff, big stuff, going on.  Quite frankly, it would take a “Messiah” to see us through this thing.  I think we are pretty lucky to have the team at the top we do, but I have no illusions about super-powers in human beings.  Obama is mortal, and will make mistakes.  He already has, and has owned up to them.  This is a useful trait for a leader, IMHO.  Particularly one faced with as much, as quickly, as Barry.

So anyway, I voted for the guy, so I’m going with it.  The problem with the opposition here is that there is no sense, yet, that we need to act, and soon.  There is some soul-searching that is headed right back to the same place we spent 20 of the last 28 years.  We are seeing more generally empty rhetoric about “fiscal conservatism” which, after 20 years of watching it, seems to be cutting taxes, and increasing spending.   The only question is about which spending to increase.

No sooner had I posted my last post than I ran across this story.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional Republicans, having vowed to return to the conservative ideals of limited government, denounced President Barack Obama’s $3.55 trillion budget on Thursday as excessive and misdirected.

“I have serious concerns with this budget, which demands hard-working American families and job creators turn over more of their hard-earned money to the government to pay for unprecedented spending increases,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Umm, I’m sorry, but the only people getting a tax increase are the rich.  And it’s not even a tax increase, it’s letting Bush’s tax cuts (the ones he made to pay for the war…wait…what?) lapse.   Only in the rhetorical realm does a temporary decrease expiring equal “OMG, HE’S RAISING THE TAXES ON THE RICH?!  Honey, do we clear a quarter million a year?”   [From the other room comes laughter.  Loud, continuous laughter].

“Hard-working” and “hard-earned” money, no doubt.  However, I have yet to see anyone who makes that money simply by standing there and working hard.  Most people who clear that kind of dough on a regular basis worked on Wall Street.  Ya’ll remember them, right?  Hard-working, no doubt…but working hard at what?

My building is currently being torn apart and rebuilt (long story, involving rotting wood and water), and there are 100 or so hard workers out there each day, firing up the powertools the second the clock strikes eight.   They are earning hard money, and they get to keep every bit of it (many of whom quickly send it south, but that’s another story).  Under the tax plan as I am aware of it, it is the workers on main street that get the help, and the folks with deep ties to Wall Street (either through direct action, banking work, or just having assloads of money to give to investment bankers) get to pay for it.

O.k., sorry, got off on a rant there about deregulating the credit industry and how we can try to fix the country.  The whole derugulation kick used to be part of the “fiscal conservative” model, for some reason, but now it’s been dropped…I think.

Regardless, let’s continue with the reaction…

“I think we just ought to admit we’re broke. We can’t continue to pile debt on the backs of our kids and grandkids,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner.

I’m sorry, what?  Where was this attitude when it was Repbulicans spending like mad on a war?  And cutting taxes to pay for it?  I mean, I hate to sound like a broken record here, but we’ve been running huge deficits for a while now, and it was the Republicans pushing it.

“The budget outline shows a half-hearted attempt to reduce the trillion-dollar deficits we face, largely through more tax hikes that will only hurt the economy, when it should take this opportunity to exercise aggressive spending restraint,” said Gregg, the top Republican on the Budget Committee.

Right!  No money for Americans, but we’ll spend like drunken sailors on killing folks.   Unfortunately, “aggressive spending restraint” isn’t what gets an economy moving. The economy is money moving around, people busy, buying, selling, shipping, making things happen.  Not spending slows things down and sometimes they stop.

This is why I brought up the Byrds and the Economic Apocalypse.  We really are that close, folks.    We need to be working together here to get this thing re-started.    Even the “fiscal conservative” Democrats realize that.

A group of 49 fiscally conservative House Democrats, whose commitment to deficit reduction has at times put some of them at odds with Obama’s economic program, hailed Obama’s budget for presenting what they called an honest fiscal picture.

“To begin to set our nation back on the right fiscal track, we must first understand and acknowledge how big of a hole we are in,” said Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a leader of the Democratic “Blue Dog” Coalition.

And we’re in a damn, big, hole.

Reuters nails it on the head with this next statement.

Republicans have long touted themselves as champions of limited government, but surrendered that claim in approving a series of big-deficit budgets during the administration of Obama’s predecessor, Republican George W. Bush.

We got big government left, right, and center with Bush.  And somehow that spending was o.k.  One thing Obama is doing that Bush did not (and part of the reason the Wars are going to cost us so much) is putting the War Budget in the actual budget.  Bush went through a special spending rigamarole that added another $150,000,000,000 or so a year on the ole company credit card.    It’s a big part of our big hole.

The problem with military spending, and it is a problem, is that at the end of the day you end up burning that million dollar missile.   Every loss of life is tragic and I don’t mean to downplay that side, at all, but we train the ever-living shit out of our soldiers.  We have the best trained army in the world, no doubt, and each loss has a human side and an economic one.  Sorry to be cold, and I’m trying not to be, but the cost of war is dramatic and not over when the guns stop shooting.

We’ve had a time for war, and now is a time for peace, and rebuilding.  It’s a time for coming together.   We can argue about it in a few years, if we are still talking, and have not become the Beasts of Ecclesiastes.

And just a quick primer, for those that don’t follow human nature…it’s a beast when things gets rough.  If you can feel it at the top, trust me…they feel it at the bottom, multiplied be each economic ladder you move down.   It’s kind of a primal thing actually.

Luckily, we can vote on things and don’t have to settle them in the schoolyard like they did in the old days.   The votes, BTW, have already been cast.  Trust me, my internet friends…those not on this wondrous network, have been feeling the pangs of the economic downturn since it first happened (generations ago), are about ready to burst.   There’s a lot of them, and they have hope now that change is on the way.

Let’s keep it that way, and keep the beasts at the gate.   Republicans shoud be like canyon water now, giving, fast, and learning.  Going with the flow a bit, but always remembering that during a downpour, it doesn’t pay to be ice.  The time for a change in course will come, but not next week, and not even next year.

There comes a time for everything, and given the economic and political situation, Obama is now a juggernaut.  It’d be best to get out of the way for a bit.  Rick Perry, I’m looking at you and your hair.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama singled out Texas on Friday as a state that could lose out under the newly enacted $797 billion economic stimulus package because Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t totally ruled out rejecting some funds.

[another story]

Rick Perry and His Hair

That’s what they call a pimp slap on K Street.  Obama wields the bully pulpit, and he actually knows where that term came from.  Watch yo’self.

A’hem…

The huge stimulus bill includes a provision that allows legislatures to override governors and accept funding even if a governor objects.

“I haven’t spoken to the governor about it, but I hope that all Texans, regardless of politics, will make sure we maximize the use of federal funds available to the benefit of our taxpayers,” said Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democrat.

And that, boys and girls, is why the thing is 1,000 pages long.   The long arm of the pimp slap, in legislative reality.

A Quick Note About the Stimulus Package

Been seeing and hearing a lot of lamentations lately about the stimulus package.  A lot of them seem to be nebulous complaints not focused on the actual legislation, but more of the ideological whining that plagues our Democracy.

After actually looking at a nice, objective, analysis of what’s in the package (which you can read here) I came up with a short comment.

600,000 teachers get to keep their jobs.

If one were to “stimulate” the Green Energy industry, one would get a tax cut.

If one were to “stimulate” the auto industry, one would get a tax cut.

If one were to buy a new home, one would get a tax cut.

In one were on unemployment, this provides more money to keep the lights on and keep looking for work. And keeps health insurance for a little while longer.

If one makes less than $100G or so, one gets $400. Two as one (married couples) get $800.

If one is in environment science, there are 100,000 new jobs to be had.

If one likes cops and firefighters, they get some cash too. In order to keep hiring and keep away the growing number of theives (a “recession” creates more people who have to chose between stealing bread and watching kids go hungry).

If one is headed to college (or has kids headed there), more money.

And yes, the 14% of Americans who are poor get a bit too.  Hopefully to give their kids a chance at a better life.  Headstart has a wonderful record for doing this, and toddler care (as mentioned here) is one way to help those trying to make the transition from poverty to being able to consistently pay the bills.

In essence and in act, Obama has done the start of what he promised to do, focus on the Middle Class and the Poor.   Bush’s tax cuts for the rich are, at least IMHO, part of what led to the economic collapse of the banking sector, as a great deal of money flowed into a deregulated system which artificially inflated house prices.  A big part of the problem was that the mortgage industry was divorced from actually holding the pieces of paper they signed, and all the crap flowed from them onto the books of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (who, with the quasi-governmental status were assumed to be “Good for it.”)

For a while there, it was possible to not have any real income, or less than one would need, and get a $250,000 note (financed by a $25,000 loan for the downpayment) on the ASSUMPTION that house prices would continue their meteoric rises.   At the base of most crises are flawed assumptions, and this one was no different.

The point of the stimulus bill is to stimulate people to spend money in good ways that will pay more dividends down the road.  The tax cuts of investing in energy-saving technology being one of the main points in that regard, as it both stimulates that industry, increasing the potential for future advancements and cost savings, and focuses on one of the areas that America needs to address the quickest to return to a more stable economy…our general lack of energy efficiency.

As to me personally, this stimulus package does nothing directly.  While I’m in the job market looking for a job, I am not taking unemployment, so I miss that.  Without a job, I don’t get the $400 tax cut.  Without spending money I don’t have, I don’t get the other tax breaks.  I’m not a teacher or a cop or a firefighter, so those are out.  I don’t take food stamps, so no luck there.  I don’t have a toddler in day care as a single parent, so again, nothing for me.

However, given the nature of our current problems and the scope of the hole we are in (Thanks, dude) the package as a whole seems to be on the right track, getting money into the hands of people that will spend it, and encouraging people with money in their pockets to spend it.

One of the biggest problems in this kind of economic situation is those with money refuse to spend it, worried about the future.  As things get tighter, fists get tighter, and the cycle continues.   The hope is to change the attitude and reverse the spiral toward the bottom.

Yes, I used hope and change in that last sentence for a reason, because we need both to recover quickly.  And peace, we probably need that too.

Hope, peace, and change.   Those are words I most certainly believe in.

UPDATE: If anybody would like to economically stimulate me, there’s some places to do that above.   Eating is fun, but one of those big bills that get smaller when the money dries up.  Hence the nature of “belt-tightening” during a rough economy.  We all need to tighen our belts and trim our waistelines (and wastelines…cable news…I’m looking at you) a bit more during a downturn.  If every American (who needs to..at least 31% of us) lost 20 pounds, we would save billions on healthcare, look better, and get smarter (all things we need to do in order to compete better in flat world).