Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ballgames Without Umpires

ELAINE NOGAY WALKER is the Mayor of Bowling Green, KY. She chairs the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Women Mayors' Caucus. She offered these comments in response to a question regarding the two contenders coming to her town. They illustrate some of what is happening on every local level under the current political administration. I quote:

“How will the next president address the growing list of local government needs that have been consistently ignored or underfunded the past eight years? Since 1993, when the federal Community Oriented Policing (COPS) program was instituted, Bowling Green has grown by more than 25 percent, to nearly 53,000 residents, yet funding has been slashed for this and other programs that put police on the streets. Every year, the administration has attempted to eliminate the only local discretionary funding program we have, Community Development Block Grants. We're left scrambling for dollars to provide low-income housing, social services and other programs to serve our poor. Congress passed but has yet to fund the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. That money would help Bowling Green, in cooperation with Western Kentucky University, appoint an energy and environmental conservation coordinator and provide incentives for local businesses and residents to reduce energy consumption and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. How would you help us expand our police programs and social services, repair crumbling infrastructure and take steps to increase energy conservation?”
The collapse of Freddie and Fanny and other financial agencies has reduced us to a dither! I don’t know how many Congressional Republicans I have heard screaming “Naughty! Naughty!” It surprises me as they demand that these bad-boy financial barons on Wall Street handled their investments and our monies very badly. They insist “They need to be caught and punished!!”
McCain accuses Obama and his Democratic allies of elevating taxes. This results because Obama insists on transferring some of the tax burden to the 5% of the wealthiest while relieving 95% of the country. Yet, months ago I heard Bill Clinton admit paying proportionately lower taxes than most of us ordinary folk.
Now this week I see that Warren Buffet told Charlie Rose in a 10-5-08, NYT interview that “to help pay for the rescue, the government should raise taxes on the wealthy“. This wealthiest man in the world then concluded, “I’m paying the lowest tax rate that I’ve ever paid in my life,” adding, “Now, that’s crazy.” I agree; it is unfair, and its wrong.
The growing financial crunch precipitated a world crisis in the financial market. Books proliferate, like Kevin Phillips BAD MONEY. They show the unleashed greed of unregulated Capitalism and the reckless investment practices resulting from our regulated market (mostly the result of 30 years of Reagan‘s “trickle down“ theory).
On the other hand, I watch George Bush and John McCain lead the charge for privatizing government regulatory issues like Social Security, while maintaining a free “deregulated” market.
McCain, a veteran of over 26 years in the Congress has fought hard to defend the free market (Reaganomic deregulation). I recall that McCain was one of the Keating-5 and that he fought for continued deregulation that contributed to the huge S&L bailout that sent Keating to prison and cost us the biggest bundle ever, up to that time.
People amaze me denouncing socialism (government intervention)! I understand their dislike of atheistic Communism, but what I do not understand is their failure to recognize that life is about being social (relationships require discipline and accountability).
We relate with appropriate social behavior, or we react antisocially. When I learn that Lehman Brothers seeks government assistance, while simultaneously preparing top executives to opt out with huge benefits, I call this antisocial behavior. When one of those upper execs includes a Walker--cousin to the current president that opposes government intervention--I find both the behavior and the underlying philosophy antisocial, as well as unacceptable!
Now: do I want the government regulating my life? NO! Absolutely not, but I also expect the government to protect me from financial predators like Charles Keating and the political philosophy of John McCain, Cousin Walker, and President Bush. The unregulated market they insist on only produces bad money and unleashes unvarnished greed that results in further reckless and unsecured investments. When payday comes, as it always does, someone has to become accountable (the financial industry thought they could avoid this).
Let’s apply this politic to athletic entertainment. I love to watch UK’s Wildcats win basketball games. I have followed Oklahoma’s football team since the days of the legendary Bud Wilkinson. As a faithful fan, I note the special teams, the numerous referees, head linesmen, etc, I see coach upon coach, scouts recruiters, trainers, ad infinitum!
Now, apply Ronald Reagan’s famous dictim - less government to the game I’m watching. The game requires only 2 teams, no special teams, only 1 coach for each team, and 1 referee for each game--plus a place to play. Reagan, Bush, and McCain all carp for less government, while leaving larger government. Moreover, I discovered on moving to CA in the 70’s that Gov. Reagan left the highest deficit up to that time in CA history. I could also tell some horror stories about what his deregulation did among State institutions.
Then I note what George Bush has done to Bill Clinton’s surplus and grieve for my grandchildren. That makes me wonder about McSame’s politics … ?
When I apply Capitalism and government to the business of athletics, the comparisons go on and on, but the very issue of “less government” that they propose is what makes the game enjoyable for me, the fan. Multiple referees keeps it fair and honest between the players. Coaching Staffs allow coaches & recruiters et al to provide the entertainment and make it a successful venture for the people funding the athletic business.
Truthfully, we need a new model of democratic politics that is neither Republican nor Democrat. We need the personal integrity and social accountability that Jesus modeled. When intentional integrity is personally applied to political relationships, it provides all the ingredients we need for our democratic process to thrive in this world of fear, mistrust, and selfism that has produced war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and accelerated arms build-up.
The regulated and the regulators (government and its people) must responsibly relate and intervene (cooperate), to provide all the infrastructure our complex society has developed in this 21st century. The world fears our unleashed capitalistic greed, but the world will follow our leadership as we push for the common good of people everywhere.
Free-market capitalism leads to unvarnished greed (it is human nature). Reagan Republicans can no longer have their cake and eat it too. Responsible government intervention provides things like infrastructure, regulations for industry et al (rules that keep the game fair between all the players, big and small), and a people and government that acknowledge the common good of all (rather than the few).

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