To Turn the Page or Not

Random Lengths News | January 16, 2008
Some days I just feel like going out on the balcony like actor Peter Finch did in the classic film Network and screaming, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" But then who is really listening? Well, after seven years of Bush's "compassionate conservatism," there seems to be a whole lot of people in both Iowa and New Hampshire who not only want to turn the page, but close the book on Bush's reign of tyranny which has been far from compassionate and even less than conservative. Just think of his "leave no child behind" education plan and the "no bid" contracts to Halliburton as just two examples.

But I'm not so sure that it is time to turn the page, as Obama proclaims. Looking back over the past 35 years, it seems that every time something bad happens like Nixon getting caught up in the Watergate scandal, or Reagan's Iran-Contra arms for drugs deal, we get told like little children not to dwell on the past, and that it's "time to move on" -- ostensibly closing the door on any critical public debate or criminal investigations into just how these high crimes occurred and exactly who was responsible for them. Oh sure, there's a certain amount of public hand-wringing at the time, but like the recent storms, the tempest passes, people forget and the nation moves on like nothing happened.

There has been a great deal of talk by the national media punditry over whether a woman or a black man could actually be elected President of these not-so-United States of America this season, but both Iowa and New Hampshire have answered that question quite simply -- either one. The question of race or gender isn't even the right question. That page has already been turned in the cities and states all over this country. From my perspective, any of the Democratic front-runners could win against the conservative mixture of religious zealots and warmongers -- I don't include candidate Ron Paul amongst these. What is not clear is what are the necessary questions that do need answering?

Is it immigration reform or national health care; or is it just ending this stupid war in Iraq without getting our troop's asses shot off when we ultimately are forced to leave? Would we have even been in this mess in the Persian Gulf if we had followed the energy policies of President Carter? Or taken advantage of the ideas Harbor Commissioner S. David Freeman's new book on energy independence? We are shackled to the House of Bush and the House of Saud in our current $100 per barrel oil addiction -- and it is only making us all poorer for it.

The question is not about turning the page to move forward, but rather turning back a few pages to understand and correct the negative impacts of NAFTA, the significance of forcing other countries into compliance with the "free market" theories of Milton Freedman, and how America has forced its world economic policies on to other unsuspecting nations, without so much a popular vote by either their people or their legislatures. The code words to watch for are "privatization," "flat taxes," and "deregulated free markets." All of these ideas have, over the last 50 years, been promoted under the suspicious name of "neoliberalism," which is neither new nor liberal. They are policies, which if swallowed whole, turn back the clock on social, economic and political reforms to the era of President McKinley, more than 100 years ago. In essence, it comes down to the belief that the only role of government is to protect our borders and to protect private property, and that if government doesn't interfere with say minimum wages for workers or controlling health care costs or electric prices for consumers that the market place will regulate itself through competition. Sounds too good to be true -- it is!

The recent example of this kind of disastrous experiment in deregulating the energy market in California alone (remember Enron?) cost this state $71 billion, most of which was never recovered, which, in part is why our Kalifornia governor is now pleading to cut $9 billion out of your child's school budget and why he is promoting public/private developments and commuter toll lanes on our freeways. Swarzennegger is a neocon in green underwear -- the jolly green Neanderthal of California barbarianism -- and not to be trusted!

The reason why California really matters in this next early Presidential Primary this February 5, is that we are the next target for "free market reforms." You can see it in the governor's healthcare legislation that places the burden of the costs on consumers and small businesses -- equitable universal health care is nowhere in sight, but it could be -- if we are not too quick in turning the page. His call for capping the budget is not even credible on his own terms, unless he would start with controlling the salaries of judges and elected officials rather than placing the burden on the backs of college students. But this debate should not and cannot be taken out of context from the larger one of what is being addressed or not by the presidential candidates.

The real questions to ask these would-be presidents is not so much whether they could be elected, for any of the Democrats would be better than the oilgarchy that is now in place, but rather what they would do to end this retreat from the social-economic reforms that have distinguished this state, and this nation, since the time of FDR's New Deal. Realizing that these equitable reforms have been part of the foundation that has made California one of the most successful social democracies and the fifth largest economy in the world.

Now is not the time to turn the page, but to elect a President who has the courage and the memory to erase the decades of failed neocon policies, dating back to Reagan's "revolution", which started when he was California's governor. You may recall that this state once had the best public education system in the nation until he got a hold of it Now our K-12 system is ranked forty-third in the nation, while higher education costs are twenty times higher than 1970. This is what needs to be defeated in this election -- the neocon theology -- this is the battle that needs to be won.

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Founded in 1979 as a counterbalance to the conservative, corporate- owned daily paper, Random Lengths News draws on the rich history of the Los Angeles Harbor Area. The name harkens back to a description of the lumber that used to...
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