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
Sept 16, 2011
Mr. President: Interesting news from Britain: The UK Independent
Commission on Banking led by Sir John Vickers, a former Chief Economist at
the Bank of England, issued its report. Tasked to propose structural banking
reforms in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, its principal
recommendation is to separate retail and investment banking. Is that not
what we had with the Glass-Steagall Act until it was repealed after 70 years?
Our own banking reform did nothing to quell the bankers' gambling frenzy as
evidenced this week by the reported $2 billion lost by a single trader at UBS.
He was betting on the price movement of certain Exchange Traded Funds.
Given the thousands of bets and the inevitable probabilities, it is only a
matter of time before the banks throw us into a deeper hole than last time.
The poverty report out this week is truly depressing. Last year the number
of Americans (46.2 million) subsisting below the poverty line was the highest
since records were kept 52 years ago. The rate is now 15.1 percent up from
14.3 the prior year. That is almost 1 in 6. It is worse for children -- 1 in 5
overall and a shocking almost 1 in 2 in African-American and Hispanic
households. The situation has been getting progressively worse in this
Administration's term of office.
The median family income has dropped to an inflation-adjusted $49,445, a
figure last seen in the 1990's. Almost 50 million Americans had no health
insurance coverage and 48 million of working age had not been able to work
a single day. The statistics cry out for equity in the world's richest country. If
across the board cuts are mandated because the "Super-Committee" fails to
agree, these figures can only become worse. The sad truth is that if the
Bush tax-cuts had been allowed to lapse, these cuts would not be necessary.
In Afghanistan, the so-called "ring of steel" defending the supposedly
secure part of Kabul was attacked by insurgents in an episode lasting 20
hours. It recalls the Tet offensive in Vietnam which changed the dynamic of
the war. Clearly, the insurgents are far from defeated. Rumor has it the
Karzai clan, and others too, are busy with their exile plans. After Vietnam, we
had a surge in Vietnamese restaurants, this time we can enjoy kebab
houses. Not much but still better than nothing for the billions of dollars and
thousands of lives wasted.
As I read this letter over, it strikes me that everything in it reflects the abject
policy failures of this administration. We would have been much better off if
campaign rhetoric had been translated into executive action.