Archive for the ‘progressives’ category

The Person Or The Principle?

July 27, 2016

Listening to disheartened Bernie Sanders supporters who say they will not support Hillary Clinton, one hears the unthinkable. “I was not for Bernie, I was for what his campaign championed”. Hmmm.

I wonder what principle Bernie represented? Was it “free” college education? Or, was it “free” healthcare? Or, was it just the idea of breaking up the big banks or raising the minimum wage? Some say Bernie was just the face and voice of “progressivism” and that there was many more ideas to come. Hmmm.

Thinking about this, one might wonder whether America is an island, separated from the rest of the world and free to undergo any political and social experience it chooses (and remain worldwide competitive)?

For sure there are some everyday conditions which Americans ought to regret if not be ashamed of. For example,

  • Basic healthcare – not available to every American
  • Income inequality – trending even larger and far greater than 40 years ago
  • Uncontrolled drug prices – pricing at what the market will bear
  • Unaffordable higher education – resulting in personal debts of over $100,000
  • Minimum wage below a living wage – leaving little or no room for upward mobility

I am sure Bernie Sanders knew that while each of these situations were worthy of improvement, that all were not possible with the stroke of a pen.

In addition, it is important to know that a progressive like, left of center agenda does not include denying women the right to choose, respecting the rights of all individuals regardless of religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Even centrists do not support tax cuts, especially for the wealthy.

So why would it not make sense to ensure no steps backward and hold the potential to move in a more progressive direction?

George W Bush was elected (with Supreme Court help) with out winning the majority. What role did the principled, but spoiler oriented Ralph Nader play in Al Gore’s loss?

IMO, Hillary represents progressive leanings but well anchored in the center. One might say a Hillary victory will reinforce “Regaining The Center”.

Conservative, What Does It Mean?

November 14, 2015

Have you notices that none of the Republican Presidential candidates says, “vote for me, I’m a Republican”?  You do hear them profess that all the world’s problems are Democrat caused and that they are not a Democrat.

What you hear most is a Republican candidate say is he or she is a conservative, and then argue with emphasis, “a real conservative”. Hmmm.

For most people, the “conservative” or the “real conservative” claim, is not helpful in understanding what that particular candidate stands for (or against). The “conservativeness” examples used by the GOP candidates varies widely. It makes one wonder whether there are many types of conservatives or that the candidates really don’t know what a conservative really is.

For example, some conservative candidates are evangelicals and claim to have the ear of god (and vice versa). Other conservatives see the “boot straps” as the only measure of an American, “did the individual pul themselves up by the boot straps or not”? Still others, speak glowingly about our all volunteer Army and propose using our military to police around the world, “the world is a better place when American troops get involved”, they say.

The current crop of GOP conservatives (collectively) are for deporting (Mexican) immigrants, enacting a larger tax cut than each other, repealing the Affordable Care Act (with no details on a replacement), reforming (cutting) Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and eliminating more Federal Departments than each other (to reduce the size of Government). Do you get the feeling of “just saying no”?

The GOP appears to have lost its grip on a GOP brand. Brand management which serves as a glue to bind a political party’s message together, seems lost in today’s primary contest. Unless, of course, the GOP goal is to “be all (negative) things to all people”.

While the Democrat Party is positioned as the opposition, the Democrat brand is not the opposite of conservative. The term “progressive” might be closer to an opposite. And it is true that most Democrats see themselves as progressive (to some degree) although most Democrats would call them selves “centrists” (I wonder what that means?).

One would think that a conservative person would see a problem (like crumbling roads and bridges which are making the US less competitive globally) and choose a solution that represented a relatively small (but higher probability of working) change from the present. Progressives, on the other hand, are quite comfortable with large sweeping changes (with no means to know if the solution works or what to do if it doesn’t).

In the Republican debates, however, we hear of giant walls along the Mexican border and mass deportations of millions of undocumented aliens. Or, in an effort to simplify the tax code, we hear candidates proposing flat tax schemes which offer huge savings to the wealthy and are predicted to create enormous budget deficits. Fiscal conservatives or wild and crazy guys?


Where’s Bernie Going?

July 3, 2015

Bernie Sanders is raising a lot of money and attracting large crowds in his pursuit of the Democrat Presidential nomination. Against overwhelming odds (Hillary Clinton), Sanders is gaining traction, as they say. His progressive, near socialist message is falling upon hungry ears. One wonders where Bernie thinks his campaign is going?

Sanders is genuine, none the less. He is the antithesis of most of the GOP candidates who pander to the far conservative right but fully plan to tack back towards the center in the national election. Sanders also is not rich. He released his tax returns and revealed an annual income of about $200,000. Want someone not beholding? Bernie is a good choice.

His attack on the banking system is fervent and responds to what Sanders sees as a devil’s den. While this may be a little extreme, the banking industry has provided a wealth of examples of rock bottom ethics and greed based morality. Still Sander’s antidote might kill the patient too.

In many ways it is refreshing to see a campaigner like Sanders. He will certainly make Lincoln Chaffee, Matin O’Malley, and now Jim Webb look a lot more like Hillary, just a lot less well known.

Sander’s bottom line is that the wealthy in cahoots with the global banking system work together to keep the average person from improving their lot in life. Without breaking up the “too big to fail” banks, Sanders predicts America’s middle class will fail. Hmmm.

Normally a front runner attempts to incorporate campaign points from a challenger in order to cement their position as leader. Clearly Hillary is far more centrist and would attempt other means to remedy the “too big too fail” problem. But what if Bernie continues to attract big crowds and does well in the early primaries?

Hillary Clinton is probably not worrying yet. The Supreme Court gave her two boosts last week with decisions on the Affordable Care Act and Same sex marriages. The boost came in the form of GOP candidates comments on these decisions. No GOP candidate said the Court got it right. Rather these Republicans all said the Court got it wrong. The wiser candidates said it was time to move on, the rest drove further to the right.

In a right versus left comparison, Hillary’s centrist position will emerge far more appealing. From Hillary’s perspective, hopefully Bernie does not drive too much further to the left so she is forced to adopt more radical progressive positions she will have to disavow in the national election.

Is It Time For Free College Education?

April 22, 2015

The Democrat Party’s progressive wing is beginning to lay out what causes they want to see pursued if a Democrat nominee wants their support in the 2016 Presidential election. In a broad sense, this is understandable since the two dozen or more GOP hopefuls will be airing a boat load of conservative proposals. Without any counter currents one would expect the Democrat nominee (most likely Hillary Clinton) to gravitate towards a slightly right of center position.

One of the early Progressive wants is free college education for all. Hmmm.

Advocates claim college education is the key to better paying jobs and the narrowing of income distribution inequality. It would also be especially valuable in breaking the cycle of poverty supporters claim. Progressives additionally call attention to the amount of debt the current average college graduate is accumulating and how long it will take to pay the loans off. But is this enough justification for free college education?

Maybe, maybe not.

For the maybe case, there are currently no good proposals on how to break either the poverty cycle or to narrow the income distribution inequality. So absent any other ideas, what’s wrong with at least considering free college education. (I must assume “free” means the same as “free” in K-12 public education.)


There are two reasons I can think of which say resoundingly “no” to free college education. They are:

  • “Free college education” will simply lead to more kids hanging out in colleges studying courses which do not lead to employment opportunities or jobs above the minimum pay level. Current experience already shows that too many students are graduating with huge debts and still unable to find jobs.
  • “Free college education” is not free. It will cost the nations billions and will represent lost opportunity cost for many other critical needs like infrastructure and healthcare.

Another way of considering “free”higher education to make the means (that is loans) available to anyone seeking study in approved institutions which themselves possess endowments below some amount per student capita (high endowment schools should be actively aiding prospective students). In return for these loans, students could upon graduation (1) repay in cash, (2) repay in public service (including a national peace corp-like program), or (3) repay by entering a line of professions and locating in areas designated in need of these services.

College Education for as many Americans who are willing to work for it is a cause to be proud and one that will return value to the country. “Free” is just not the best approach to liberate this value.

Hershey Kisses

January 15, 2015

Today in Hershey, PA, begins an important GOP Congressional retreat, presumably to facilitate the House and Senate Republican governing majorities to plan successful strategies and tactics for the next two years. Pundits report that the ultimate goal Republican leaders seek is a legislative posture which would support a Republican Presidential victory in 2016. Good luck.

The retreat’s objectives are not a waste of time or a hidden opportunity for a weekend of frolic. There is a desperate need for a functioning Congress. All Americans would be well served if the GOP could galvanize around sensible objectives, and pragmatic and transparent tactics to reach these goals.

Progressives, however, are already girding their forces to defend at all costs social security, healthcare, Medicare/Medicaid, Education, and a wide range of social network laws. Defending the status quo, however, is short sighted since each of these Progressive programs are full of shortcomings and in danger of running out of funding or bankrupting the rest of the national budget. Hmmm.

Progressives might be well advised to relax for at least the time being and not worry about a GOP frontal assault on these programs. The GOP is racked with ideological division (not unlike moderate Democrats and extreme liberals) and are highly unlikely to get their act together. Progressives might better use their time to engage the GOP in discussing benefits, costs, and how the need for these programs might be reduced or ultimately eliminated.

Thinking this way may sound silly or naive, or both. Hmmm.

But think about the alternative, doing business as normal. Already the House has passed a bill which increases funding for Homeland Security but denies authority to spend it on implementing President Obama’s executive order. The House GOP has said no to Hispanics and yes to spending more. Hmmm.

The insanity of this GOP position is that there are not enough votes to bring the law into force in the Senate. Instead the GOP will go on record of denying Hispanics some relief through a comprehensive immigration reform.  I doubt that will be helpful in 2016.

Hershey, the home of Hershey chocolate (especially Hershey Kisses), seems an ideal place for the GOP to work out the acrimonious division between its right and moderate wings. I wonder whether the aroma and mouthfuls of chocolate will work?

Supreme Pass

October 8, 2014

The Supreme Court yesterday took a bye with respect to hearing an appeal of lower Court decisions which struck down bans on same sex marriage. By taking a pass, the Court has in essence said the lower Court’s decisions (that specific State bans were unconstitutional) were the best path forward for what they viewed as a purely social issue. Hmmm.

One might have thought that the Supreme Court would have jumped in and declared bans on same sex marriage discriminatory. But wait, the old religious rascal, coupled with political hypocrisy have mounted such a stir that it was more prudent for the Court to sit back and wait until even more States had decided to allow gay marriage before making any grand statement.

The Supreme Court’s cowardice position is more easily seen when one eliminates religion from the discussion. Marriage is fundamentally a contract between two people which spells outs how property will be shared. Marriage has tended to also conform to societal preferences on co-habitation and procreation. (Marriage, for example, between close relatives is outlawed for health reasons.) And, lets not forget that Federal and States tax codes, marriage also qualifies couples for attractive tax advantages.

In the eyes of the law, religion plays no part.  So why should so many religious traditions be opposed to same sex marriage? Why would these traditions wish to deny a loving, consenting couple from receive the same treatment if one of the couple were hospitalized and needed a consent on treatment? Why would any religion (assuming they believe their god is good), feel their marriage was threatened were other same sex couples to receive the same treatment in civil marriage ceremonies?

Ignorance certainly plays a role. Younger Americans who have had the advantage of a lot more awareness of homosexuals in their daily lives overwhelmingly support same sex marriage.

“Turning the Queen Mary” of conservative opinion is another reason.

The main stream religious traditions have spent so much time for centuries denigrating homosexuality that they are unable to admit they were wrong. The Catholic Church, with a long infamous history of denying science and banning books, has a very weak argument that they are right this time.

For traditions like catholicism, it will be the collection box which suddenly changes Church dogma. The Supreme Court pass has moved the same sex marriage boat a little further away from the dock.

With politicians clambering to get on board, churches won’t be far behind.