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
November 25, 2016, (posted November 26)
Mr. President: Happy Thanksgiving! For many in our increasingly unequal society it
Triangulation has been the byword for your party -- a kind of centrism embraced by
Democrats who did the work of the Republicans in the economic sphere while
adopting a left-leaning social agenda. The author of this ... none other than
candidate Hillary Clinton's husband.
It disenfranchised the working class but then, it was assumed, they had nowhere else
to go. NAFTA, bank deregulation in lockstep with the Republicans and the results:
job losses, the mortgage crisis as banks gambled on mortgage paper and the
ensuing loss of homes for those most vulnerable.
The total of manufacturing jobs in the US numbered around 18 million before NAFTA;
within a half-dozen years after, they were sinking rapidly down to 12 million. In the
postwar years (after WW II) 1 in 4 American workers had a manufacturing job; now it
is less than 1 in 10.
So along came the second Bush. Had it been the middle ages, he would have been
promptly named Bush the Mad, to distinguish him from his genteel-father. Eight
years, hundreds of thousands of unnecessary lives lost, an economic crisis thanks to
Bill Clinton's bank deregulation and the country was ready for 'hope and change'.
They got 'more of the same'.
Who can blame them then? Along comes a pied piper by the name of Trump ... he is
going to bring jobs back, cancel TPP and NAFTA -- though he is now soft-peddling
the latter -- put America first, and 'make America great again'.
When election victories became more important to the Democrats than their working
class core constituency, it was only a matter of time. Trump will be remembered for
understanding this better than anyone else, better than his Republican rivals,
certainly better than his opponent, who he blamed squarely for the troubles faced by
the working class. Trump the Canny he would have been known as in the Middle
Ages, and the canny generally win.
How things have changed in the US: In the 1970s, the area around Union Station (the
principal train hub in Chicago) was a little shabby with old low-rise buildings spreading
westwards. There was never a panhandler in sight or a homeless person. The
country took care of its poor. Then came the Reagan revolution, cutting taxes and
spending, followed not long after by Bill Clinton's triangulation or rather strangulation
of the poor through welfare reform. Yes, he balanced the budget as Hillary asserted
often but on whose backs?
Go to the Union Station now and new gleaming high-rises meet the eye -- all shiny
glass and steel. But every street corner has beggars (panhandlers is the
euphemism) and the numbers keep increasing. Then there are the pathetic
homeless carrying all their belongings in plastic bags or shopping carts.
Whatever Trump does, it is not going to be easy to bring jobs back. Not only have
these been shipped abroad but technology has changed. Robots on the shop floor
are replacing humans, and robots don't need breaks or sick leave or vacation time.
As for the panhandlers, heaven help them. The 'more tax cuts' mantra means less for
A common measure of civilization is how well a society looks after its weakest and
most vulnerable. The new crop of leaders shows little promise in that regard.