Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
July 29, 2011
Mr. President: There is a Pew survey out this week. It shows black
unemployment at twice the white rate to nearly 1 in 5 out of work. The
average net worth of black families is one-twentieth of white and they have
lost about 50% of their wealth in this recession which is three times the loss
suffered by white households. A black President has been unable to
address these problems of disparity. If anything the situation for black
families has worsened in the term of this administration.
The frame of the debt ceiling debate excludes any serious effort to push the
economy forward or to produce new jobs except for the vapid pablum of not
raising taxes, cutting taxes and spending cuts. As if by a magic wand this
produces jobs. Cutting taxes for the wealthy allows them to save more, buy
stocks and bonds raising their price. Cutting taxes for the not so rich gets
them spending to buy goods manufactured in China mostly. Cutting taxes for
corporations -- they are already lowest taxed (de facto) in the industrialized
world, adds to coffers used to invest where returns are highest, that is
outside the U.S. where wages are low, environmental laws less stringent, etc.
What we need (and desperately) is investment in this country: investment to
repair the crumbling infrastructure, investment in transportation, investment
in job training, education, and on and on. Are the corporations or the
wealthy going to do this for us? So who is?
Social Security is solvent. Medicare is not itself the problem; it is the system
delivering services that is the culprit. Hospitals in communities are now
corporate monopolies interested in selling as much service as possible at
exorbitant rates: unnecessary repeated emergency room visits are
encouraged instead of decent primary care at one-hundredth the cost;
unnecessary multiple and repeated tests; unnecessary procedures;
inadequate preventive care, etc. -- all of which would lower costs to
Medicare but would also dry up the corporate revenue stream. It is not a
resource problem but a management problem -- a problem a single-payer
system like the Canadian one would have solved.
If we want to discuss deficits, we need to examine the sources: First, the
Bush and now your tax cuts - unnecessary, irresponsible and pandering,
they did nothing for the economy before and will do the same in the future, if
not actual harm by raising the cost of borrowing; second, the wars.
It is abundantly clear, the Iraq war has been a painful, expensive and, for the
Iraqis, devastating in loss of life, infrastructure, loss of human capital, and
their delicately balanced way of life among different ethnicities, religions and
languages. We leave them in a mess but we should leave; they can solve
their own problems as they have done so, as one of the world's oldest
civilizations, for millennia. Our presence encourages the fighting and
jockeying for advantage.
The Afghan war was lost a long time ago. Now the current leadership is
being decapitated by the Taliban in preparation for when we are gone - the
time has come to declare 'victory' and leave. Unless we want to relive the
Soviet experience with our economy and standing in the world.
After all, we have now had, perhaps the first time, a U.S. President being
lectured to by a Chinese Deputy Minister.