Monday, July 25, 2011

The American Dream: You can't get there from here.

Remember those films from the '50s that described what the future would be like for Americans? They predicted that mom and dad would have more time on their hands because of the wonders of technology. Dad would have more free time with the family. Mom would spend less time in the kitchen. But the authors of these errant utopian prophesies never explained how mom, dad and kids could afford to live in their "home of the future," with all its time saving gadgets and cool technological wonders.

Assuming increased productivity due to technological advances allowed Dad the luxury of spending more time with the family also assumes that Dad shared in the surging profits resulting from increased productivity. But apparently, the same authors who could envision commuting to work via jet pack never imagined a world where American corporations wouldn't share the windfalls of technology-driven efficiencies with their employees.

The fact is, corporations haven't. Even factoring in the latest recession, businesses are turning record profits. The trend over time has been upward ever since the end of the Great Depression. But not the median income of American workers. That has been stagnant for many, many years.

Redistribution of wealth is a socialist concept. So the authors of those films back in the 50s must have been socialists, right? How else could they explain the average Joe and his family living in such luxury? Not by working longer hours.

While most Americans back then certainly didn't think of themselves as socialists, they still believed in the commonwealth. They believed in sharing the wealth. They understood the concept of the greater good. They realized the true promise of E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one). The people of the 1950s understood the value of investing in research and infrastructure. They benefited from the G.I. Bill, and their parents benefited from the New Deal.

Today, E Pluribus Unum has been replaced with Ego, vero, me, meae (I, Me, Mine). It signifies the death of the American Dream, which was built on the premis that together, there is nothing we can't accomplish. A rising tide no longer lifts all boats.

Maybe the Dream was always just that. Maybe it was just a cynical creation of the leadership of the time to replace religion as the opiat of the masses. The great irony of all of this is that those who have adopted Ego, Vero, Me, Meae are the ones waving the American flag with the most vigor, while they disavow the basic principles that can make the Dream a reality.

They say we don't remember most of our dreams. Maybe some day, our children won't remember this one either.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stumbled upon this little piece of truth...

A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the tea partier and says,"watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."

Sometimes, you just need to let someone else say it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Republicans: "Uncertainty is bad for the economy... but it's good for us."

The June new jobs number came out this morning. A disappointing 18,400 jobs were crated last month. Could it be because businesses have no idea where budget negotiations in Washington are headed and what impact any resulting deal will have on their bottom lines? That's the argument Republicans always use against the Obama administration. But in June, it was Republican intransigence that stalled talks and heightened uncertainty. Bad for the unemployed. Good for the Republican candidates who have nothing new to propose and must distract from that fact by blaming Obama for the current economic woes.

Once again, mission accomplished.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The 22nd annual Pastors for Peace FRIENDSHIPMENT Cuba Caravan

On Friday, July 8th, the 22nd annual Pastors for Peace FRIENDSHIPMENT Cuba Caravan will arrive in Rochester to receive and then transport humanitarian aid donations to Cuba. These donations are made possible by contributions collected by the Rochester Committee on Latin America. Included are $2000 worth of children’s asthma medicine plus orthopedic equipment and special pediatric wheelchairs.  Trucks of the Caravan will cross North America.  Eventually, the FRIENDSHIPMENT will deliver the aid to the Ecumenical Council of Cuba.

Since 1992, Rochester-area residents have challenged the US embargo on trade and travel to Cuba by collecting medical and educational materials and shipping them to Cuba in violation of our government policy.  Pastors for Peace does not apply for and will not accept a license for either humanitarian aid or travel to Cuba.  The Caravan’s goal is to educate about conditions in Cuba and the effects of the 50-year-old US embargo, and to help overturn the embargo.

At 5:30 that evening Bill Hackwell, widely published and exhibited social documentary photographer, who is traveling with the Caravan, will speak to volunteers.  Volunteers and supporters will gather at 57 South Main Street in Pittsford to pack the truck and celebrate with a potluck supper.

Organizers expect Emily Good of Rochester to be acknowledged at the event.  Ms. Good received national attention when she was arrested for peacefully filming police officers carrying out a traffic stop. All charges against Ms. Good were later dismissed.

Also expected to be present are Matt Dearstyne and Sara Burdette, of Greece, NY.  Dearstyne and Burdette, recent SUNY Geneseo graduates, will both be traveling to Cuba with the caravan.

ROCLA will pay special tribute to Max and Henrietta Levine of Rochester.  The Levines have worked jointly for peace and justice for over 150 years.

Vic Vinkey, local organizer and chairperson for this event, who has accompanied a past Caravan to Cuba, says that “by our actions we will continue to challenge this unjust law and hope eventually to change it.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

While you were away...

In the past seven weeks since the Casey Anthony trial has been in session, 81 American service members have died in Afghanistan, and 17 in Iraq. Roughly 143,000 homes were repossessed, and the unemployment rate hasn't changed significantly, at least according to the data available to date. The Republicans walked out of Biden's budget negotiations because the Democrats continued to try to negotiate. They have also continued to be against anything that the Obama administration is for, even if they were previously in favor of it. The middle class is still waiting for the benefits of the Bush tax cuts to "trickle down," And Andrew Cuomo is considering allowing the resumption of hydrofracking in parts of New York (the parts where he can afford to lose votes?)

Now that the Anthony jury has delivered their verdict, maybe we can get back to paying attention to stuff that might actually have a significant impact on our lives.