Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


September 25, 2012

Lion and the Lamb: The post-convention blues

CROSSVILLE — In this interim period between the political conventions and the election, our nation's mood is one of great anxiety.

First, there is the great deficit hole we've dug for ourselves. In January 2001 when Bill Clinton left office with a $236 billion surplus, President George W. Bush took us into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without a plan to pay for them, which will add some $3 trillion to our national debt. At the same time, the wealthiest people in our nation were given huge tax breaks, adding another $1 trillion to the deficit over a ten-years period. The effective tax rate the wealthy are now paying is the lowest it has been in several decades. Our large corporations today are also enjoying record-breaking profits, thanks to huge corporate loopholes resulting in a massive loss of federal income.  Meanwhile, our military spending, one of the causes of our present day deficit, has tripled since 1997.

Second, there has been growing economic hardship:  losses in the area of jobs, pensions, housing, and health care. Tuition and fees at four-year colleges have climbed 300 percent between 1990 and 2011, adding a great debt burden to young people as they consider jobs, marriage, and the start of families.  Just as the very time when a strong social and economic safety net is needed, there is talk about reducing (or privatizing) Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid,  and other governmental spending programs to help reduce the deficit.

There is a myth in our nation that frames the way some Americans view this turn of events: the myth that our nation was founded on meritocracy and that one's mobility and success are a sign of one's value and ability.  On one side of our society are the successful, productive people, the job creators, the makers; on the other side are the failures, moochers, the takers, and those who depend on government programs to prop them up. Chief liturgist of this viewpoint was Ayn Rand who condemned the idea of ethical altruism, preferring instead the "virtue of selfishness."  According to her, taxes and regulations reduce the incentive for the best and brightest of our society. Unfortunately, there are a number of leaders in our nation who are disciples of Ayn Rand.

Third, our electoral process is seriously flawed.  On this past September 11 former U.S. president Jimmy Carter issued a blistering indictment of the American electoral process, stating that it is shot through with "financial corruption" that threatens democracy.  "We have one of the worst election processes in the world right in the United States of America, and it's entirely because of the excessive influx of money."  The dynamic is fed, he said, by an income tax code that exacerbates the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the electorate, allowing the rich even greater influence over public discourse and electioneering.  In his indictment he lamented the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that allows unlimited contributions to  third-party groups that don't have to disclose their donors.  An unlimited tsunami of money is now flooding political contests as every level, not just the national election.

Another part of this flawed electoral process is the photo ID requirement for voting, our modern equivalent of the poll tax hurdle once in place in our nation.  A report in the news this past week stated that there are an estimated 500,000 voters in Pennsylvania without valid photos.  It is questionable whether that many will be able to get the required identification before voting day.

Fourth, lest we think that we'll still be able to survive this interim period and ensuing election without too much disruption and threat, along comes journalist Chris Hedges to add to our national blues. In a September 24 article he writes, "Corporate power, no matter who is running the ward after January 2013, is poised to carry out U.S. history's most savage assault against the poor and the working class, not to mention the Earth's ecosystem."

Hedges describes the "cash-drenched charade of a two-party democratic election."

"All the things that stand between us and utter destitution—Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, Head Start, Social Security, public education, federal grants-in-aid to America's states and cities, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and home-delivered meals for seniors—are about to be shredded by the corporate state.  Our corporate oligarchs are harvesting the nation, grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, in the inevitable descent."

Let's see what happens.

Text Only
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014