Monday, September 15, 2008

The Choice is Ours

--by Mike Adams

This era of American History has been dominated by partisan bickering, divisive manipulations and less than honest statements. Our country has been torn into seemingly irreconcilable factions as we have waged a war of aggression and sacrificed thousands of American Service men and women. We have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. We have let the poorest and most vulnerable in our society suffer and we have enriched the wealthiest at the expense of our Federal Budget. We have seen our Government turn its back on our wounded and injured service men and women returning home from war. Over the past several years, many of us have lost hope.

I am supporting Barack Obama not because I believe that he will take the bull by the horns and change this country. That job is too big for any one person…No, I believe that as President, Barack Obama will inspire us to change our country. He will give voice to our passions, he will serve our will and our collective interest, he will ask us to stand together in unity and change our world, to change the course of our country and to make this planet a better place for everyone. The choice is ours. The future will be decided by our choices. Please join me between now and November and lets elect Barak Obama and Joe Biden to be the next President and Vice President of the United States of America.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Change We Need

--by Mike Adams

In Senator John McCain’s speech to the Republican National Convention, he asked the American public to join him in fighting for America, to join him in fighting for the change that he claims we need and the change he claims he will deliver. I was at first dubious, but after considering the Senator from Arizona, I acknowledged that Senator McCain does represent a kind of change; Senator McCain has gone against his party, he has reached across partisan lines to stand for what he believed to be right. He has demonstrated that he is tough, dedicated and generally true to course. During the last two years, Senator McCain has unfortunately changed his mind on several important issues and he stands with other Washington Republicans on the wrong side of several important issues. He has changed his mind and now supports more tax breaks to America’s wealthiest individuals and corporations. He has changed his mind and now supports ‘soft torture’ which he opposed recently and really gained many people’s respect for his opposition to the Republican Party line. He has changed his mind and now supports off shore drilling. This is a surprise, because Senator McCain certainly already knows that off shore drilling and increased drilling in Alaska won’t begin to make a dent in our energy needs. Senator McCain knows that offshore drilling and drilling in Alaska will certainly add to already high pollution levels and add to global warming.

Obviously Senator McCain is capable of change and his most recent changes have given him leadership of the Republican Party. The sad truth is that he is not offering the kind of change that America needs. We do not need a leader who used to work for what he thought was right even when it cost him politically. We don’t need a leader who won’t push meaningful policies aimed at curbing oil consumption. We don’t need a leader who’s ‘change‘ platform will do nothing to reduce carbon emission who’s ‘change’ platform will encourage ever more dramatic climate change. Not only do we not need that leader or that kind of change, in reality, we can not afford it. In today’s world, the risks are too great, the times are too desperate and McCain is too dangerous to put in charge. The last eight years have shown us what having Republican leadership in the Whitehouse produces.

Record high deficits, record high gas prices, record high food prices, record high home foreclosures, the highest unemployment in more than half a decade, degrading public schools, growing poverty and a collective concern because our work lives and our country are headed in the wrong direction. We can not afford that and we can not give the Republicans four more years. We can not entrust them with our future, our environment, our children’s education and our health care. We must take back our country in this election.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Woman's Worth

--by Mike Adams

My wife, a full time employee of our local school district, earns nearly 13,000 dollars a year. Our child care cost is $5400 a year for our three year old son, whom my sister takes care of for a lesser cost than other day care arrangements. This means my wife brings home $7600 a year after covering a basic and necessary expenses.

I have to be honest; this makes me feel rather angry. I can’t understand why an instructional assistant is only worth $13,000 a year. In a country where we profess to highly value our next generation; in this country with its federal mandate named, ‘No Child Left Behind,’ it seems that somehow, we could provide enough pay for child care professionals, for teachers and teachers’ assistants that they, the people who we entrust with our children’s futures aren’t left behind. I wholeheartedly disagree with any characterization of the teacher’s union as a “special interest group” at least in terms similar to the tobacco lobby being a special interest group. Shouldn’t all Americans take a particular interest in the quality our children’s educations and the livelihood of those who care for our next generation. Our children are our future, they will care for of us when we get older, they will run the government when we retire and on a personal level, they are our hopes and our dreams, they are our greatest investments. So I ask, why not loosen the purse strings and pay a reasonable wage to those with whom we entrust our kids?

I have heard some conservatives respond that, really, we want teachers who love teaching so much that they would teach even if they weren’t getting paid at all. That argument sounds good on the surface…I mean, really, I want my kids to be taught by someone who is passionate about and loves teaching, but seriously, no one should need to love teaching so much that they are willing to live in poverty or near poverty and neglect their own children’s financial needs in order to work in the school system.

Think about it, what if we decided that we really only want CEO’s who love that line of work so much that they would do it for free. What about lawyers or cosmetic surgeons or accountants, shouldn’t we find people who will do those tasks for free too?

Seriously though, let’s look at qualifications and pay; a teacher must earn a four year degree and then a teaching credential. Additionally, they have annual education requirements, which they are expected to pay from their own income. By necessity, teachers are well educated with five or six years in college before they qualify to lead a classroom. Why is their work so un-valued in our society that after completing all of that higher education, a teacher starts out earning only $32,000 per year?

I can’t understand why, an entry level computer technician, with no college degree, is able to earn more money than a teacher with five or six years of college. I worry that our values are mixed up, that our vision is blurry and that we have lost sight of some key American values.

In the 2008 Presidential race, there was much talk about sexism. It was used in the Democratic primaries and again in the general election. I’m not sure whether sexism played a greater role than did racism in the 2008 election year, however, I can promise you that every day across this country sexism plays a role in the lives of everyday Americans.

Consider the fact that in general, a single mother is considered to be a tragedy, or in Rush Limbaugh’s world, a slacker. However, a single father is something of a hero. We have a double standard for what kind of role women are expected to take with their children versus what is expected of men.

Women are expected to be nurturing, loving and in general caring providers for their children; they cook, clean and take care of the soccer schedule. They are expected to put their careers on hold and stay home for the important work of parenting. By contrast, men go to work and are expected to earn enough money to support the family. Men are expected to work late, attend meetings or even get a second job if necessary. If a child has to stay home sick, a mother is almost always the one to take sick leave or miss a work day. In my family, when we run out of sick days, it is usually my wife who stays home because her work for the schools pays so much less than my work.

Often, I wonder if this isn’t because of the nature of my wife’s work. Because she takes care of children for a living and I take care of more pressing issues, like some one’s Microsoft Word Program won’t start or they really want flash installed on their computer. I believe that our society has relegated work, which is historically considered “women’s work” to a lower pay scale. Jobs like Daycare Provider, school teachers, Teacher’s Aids, house cleaners. None of them pays particularly well, all of them are considered by and large to be women’s jobs.

It seems that in our society, we pretend to value our children above all else, but in reality, we won’t pay a good wage to those people who we entrust with our children’s safety and future, as a country, we spend more money building prisons than we do building schools. Somewhere deep inside our collective unconscious, we still seem to believe that those tasks are a woman’s tasks…a stay at home mother’s tasks…unpaid and economically un-valuable tasks. The question is when will we realize that in fact, providing care and education for the next generation is invaluable work worthy of good pay and worthy of our deepest respect.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pay Less now or More Later - It's up to you America

--by Mike Adams

Washington Republicans claim that Obama’s economic plan will raise everyone’s taxes while their Republican plan will, as they always claim, slash spending and lower taxes. George W. Bush promised the same thing, George H.W. Bush said “read my lips, no new taxes.” It seems that Republicans either don’t know how to fulfill on their campaign promises or they don’t care to. After eight years of Republican leadership, we have a record deficit and the only thing offered is a continued and expanded war along with more Republican tax breaks which will continue to benefit only the wealthiest individuals and corporations in our country. I’m sure that Republicans will continue to push for more ‘deregulation,’ which could more aptly be portrayed as a ‘Corporate blank check’ our jobs will continue to move over seas our resources will continue to enrich America’s Elite and average hard working American citizens will continue to lose.

Today, we are individually and collectively worse off than we were when the Republicans took the White House nearly eight years ago. This is a critical time in our history and we American citizens can not afford to make the wrong choice again, we can not afford to let Republicans control the direction of this country any longer, we can not afford to make a presidential decision based on misleading sound bites and partial truths again.

We have heard Republicans claim that Obama can not possibly pay for everything that he is promoting by taxing the wealthiest Americans. They say that it would be great to have a world class education system but it costs money, they say that it would be great to provide everyone with health care but it costs money, they say that we Americans simply can’t afford to take care of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. What they don’t tell you is that we the American tax payer will ultimately pay that bill anyway. We will pay now or we will pay later. We will pay less or we will pay more…luckily, we get to chose.

In the last two decades, this country has seen an explosion in prison populations. We all know that prisons are not free and we the American taxpayers spend approximately $22,000 per year on each and every person who ends up behind bars, collectively that represents a cost of more than 40 billion dollars each year. This burden is not only economic because of the upfront monetary cost, but also social because prisoners are not productive tax payers, they are not able to be involved parents, they end up being little more than a burden. In fact, according to a 2000 USA Today article, prison costs were the single largest expense of many states. There is something wrong when the United States of America spends more money to build prisons than to build shools and colleges. Our system is failing our investments are mis-guided our direction is wrong.

The importance of this is stark when we consider that nothing will do more to keep people out of prison than education. The vast majority of American inmates are functionally illiterate and many of those who can read have only an eighth grade education. What is wrong here? Why do we have money to build and staff prisons, but not to build and staff schools, why can’t a teacher or instructional assistant receive decent pay?

Our choices are simple, either we pay for our citizens to have a world class education system now or we pay more for a world class prison system later. Which is the moral choice? Which choice will give us a larger tax base? Which is the choice consistent with American values, which is the choice consistent with family values?

Next, Republicans want to claim leadership in solving our energy problems. I want to know why, if Republicans wanted lead in solving our energy problems, they didn’t pass laws for increasing the national fuel efficiency standards in the 1990’s or again at the beginning of Bush’s term? The argument at the time had to do with the negative impact on our economy. Well, here we are...we could have paid less to avoid this crisis but instead, Republicans decided to avoid being responsible and have us pay more…much more now.

Washington Republicans it seems are always willing to mortgage a later generation, so that they don’t have to pay today's bills, they never want to invest in America’s future. It was under Republican leadership that we recklessly started a war under false pretenses. The current Republican nominee for President supported that war and all of the spending that goes along with it, yet no one except the men and women who serve in our armed forces along with their friends and families have been asked to sacrifice or change anything. I guess the Republican plan is to leave that bill for a later generation so that these Republicans won’t have to worry about it.

It was nearly eight years ago when Republicans took leadership of this United States of America. When Republicans took over, our economy was strong, the budget had been balanced, in fact we had a budget surplus and optimism was high. Since then, Republicans have given us the largest US deficit in history, record home foreclosures, rising unemployment, soaring healthcare costs and our children will be left to pay this bill, those of us in our twenties, thirties and forties will be left to deal with the consequences of this reckless Republican adventure.

Any Americans with children who will be going to college within the next fifteen years will be left to pay shoulder the burden of higher education and failed Republican policies. We will be left to cope with the health needs of returning war Veterans, we will be left with the moral hangover associated with the fact that the current Republican leaders won't provide appropriate or adequate care for veterans, we will be left to repay China for the debt that this Republican leadership left, we will be left to pay for an increase in prison costs as the next generation of impoverished Americans grows into adulthood without having learned to read without having acquired the college degrees that they needed from our neglected education system. We will be the ones to pay and we need to make the right choice now. Please remember this when you cast your votes in November, please make the right choice for America’s future, please lets do the right thing this time.