Cap & Trade or Michael Jackson

July 7, 2009

Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, it should bother you that the news media is spending far more time keeping the American people up to date on the Michael Jackson memorial service than they are in informing us of the progress of the Cap & Trade legislation.

And why are they placing so much emphasis on a dead celebrity? Why are they ignoring more important issues that could affect all tax payers?

Some right wing conservatives would have us believe that the left leaning media is intentionally taking the focus away from Congress so the Obama administration can shove another giant spending (and taxing) bill down our throats.

The left wing radicals would argue otherwise.

Naturally – and unfortunately – the truth has nothing to do with politics. Sadly, the media is giving the American public what the American public wants. I’ll admit I haven’t checked, but I’d bet that any broadcast of the American Idol show garnered a much larger share of the viewing public than any of the Presidential debates.

The truth is a large portion of our population doesn’t care about what goes on in Washington, D.C. In fact, they care even less about what goes on in their own state capitols.

Many years ago I attended a Key Club convention in Philadelphia. Each delegate was given a key ring. On one side was the Key Club logo. On the other was the phrase, “Combat Complacency.”

I believe we’ve lost the battle. In the 1960’s, college students stood up and voiced their opinions. While many of them were wrong in their beliefs, they all had the courage to stand up for what they believed. As a result, many things in our society were changed.

The youth of my youth took the time to learn about things that mattered. Sometimes they heard one side of the story and jumped to incorrect conclusions, but in most instances, they looked at both sides and came to good logical conclusions.

I’m afraid today’s youth are too busy twittering their lives away.

Perhaps that’s the major difference. While we didn’t have CNN, FOX News Channel, C-SPAN, or… come to think of it, we didn’t have any cable channels because we didn’t have cable. We also didn’t have lap top computers and the Internet. But we did have newspapers, news magazines, and the library.

We paid attention to the world around us – sweat bullets during the Cuban Missile Crisis – and felt a responsibility to speak out against what we saw as injustice.

Perhaps that was the influence of John F. Kennedy. I know we all admired the man and took the “New Frontier” very seriously. And we all deeply mourned his passing.

Until President Obama came along, we hadn’t had another President who could reach out and stir the interest of the youth as JFK did. But it appears that the interest of our current youth petered out once their man was elected.

It’s a shame because, the way I see it, it’s the youth and future generations who will be most harmed by what is currently happening in Washington.

The U.S. Government has no business being in business. Every time government has taken over an industry, that industry stops being self-sufficient. For example, independent bus and trolley companies operated in major cities for decades. They competed for riders and most of those companies were profitable.

The companies that couldn’t compete went out of business and their assets were bought up by the other companies. Then, the government decided to take over. The two ‘companies’ I’m most familiar with – the Port Authority Transit (PAT) in Pittsburgh and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit  Authority (MARTA) – have both operated at a loss for decades. Taxpayer subsidies are the only way they stay afloat.

Will General Motors be any different? Will taxpayer subsidized pricing put Ford, Chrysler, and others out of business?

The Federal Government has put itself in a very awkward position. Congress is talking about passing a ‘clunker bill’ that will give citizens a tax break for trading in an old car for a new, more fuel efficient, car. Will the tax break be higher for those of us who buy a GM product? It would make sense if the government wants their ‘company’ to flourish.

But wouldn’t that be unfair to the other companies? Does the government care?

There are many people who believe the economic crisis could’ve been solved months ago simply by the government letting workers keep their entire paychecks. Think about that. The typical worker has almost a third of his or her paycheck withheld every pay day. If that money had been available to the individuals, they would’ve spent it. Even if they simply paid off some bills, the economy would’ve improved.

Foreclosures would’ve been reduced dramatically and banks would’ve had more money for other loans. Consumers would’ve bought more cars, televisions, and other big ticket items… which would’ve resulted in more jobs.

If consumers bought Fords and Toyotas rather than Chevys and Buicks, GM would’ve had to fix their problems or go out of business. With increased sales, the other auto makers would’ve been able to buy GM factories and put the former GM employees to work building other makes of cars.

Is it too late for the government to get out of the auto business? I hope not. And while they’re at it, they should also get out of the banking and investment businesses.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for MARTA and PAT to liquidate and let the private sector show the politicians how it should be done.

Considering the business acumen of most politicians, it wouldn’t take a business genius to repair the damage done by congress. Think of it! How many politicians have held a ‘real’ job during their adult life. There may be a few, but most of them were borderline lawyers who recognized they could make a lot more money supporting the causes of special interest groups.

If they were intelligent enough to be successful business people, why would they even consider becoming a member of Congress?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and see if Michael has been buried yet.

Walking for America

September 15, 2008

This morning I was chatting with a man who grew up in Buffalo, New York and we got to talking about John F. Kennedy’s push for physical fitness. The subject brought back a memory buried deep in my brain. Perhaps I intentionally stuck it in the most remote area of my memory banks, but on reflection, it says a lot about JFK and how we young and impressionable college students took his advice to heart.

We were freshmen at Edinboro State Teachers College and paid little attention to politics or current events. However, Kennedy got our attention with talk of the Peace Corps and the importance of our citizens being in good physical condition. At the time, JFK was encouraging everyone to take fifty mile hikes. We weren’t quite up to that challenge, but a group of us – six or seven if memory serves me right – believed we could start small… by walking from Edinboro to Erie, Pennsylvania.

We planned the hike for a weekend when none of us would have to get up for classes. Saturday morning classes stopped us from starting out on Friday evening or Saturday morning.

The only problem with leaving Saturday afternoon or evening was my work schedule at the Student Union. The place closed at 11:00 PM on Saturday and I had to spend another hour cleaning tables and mopping floors. Since everyone agreed to wait for me, we headed north at midnight.

We were less than five miles into our journey when we realized that someone should have checked with the weatherman. We slogged our way through a torrential downpour that lasted at least forty-five minutes. We were soaked through and through!

About then – it might have been two-thirty or three o’clock in the morning – we came to a small settlement that had a laundromat that stayed open all night. In a very short time, there was a group of college men standing around in their undershorts. Everything else – including sneakers – went into the dryers. Fortunately, no police cars or local citizens driving by took notice. Within a half hour or so, we were all dressed in warm clothing fresh from the dryers and back on the road.

We continued walking until the sun came up and one of our leaders recognized where we were. Our goal was to get to his house, which he figured was still six or seven miles away. We had walked about fifteen miles and were totally exhausted. We found a pay phone so he could call his parents. I’m not sure how we all fit in their family car, but we made it. When we arrived at his home, we immediately found a spot on a sofa, bed, or floor, and toddled off to dreamland.

When we finally awoke late in the afternoon, we were treated to a marvelous dinner – it was great to have a MOM-cooked meal – and were driven back to Edinboro. As I recall, that was the end of our hiking. Needless to say, we never came close to that fifty mile goal.