Links I Like
“The Man Who
Hated Work and Loved Labor — The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi”
This is a fascinating book about a labor leader who has had tremendous
influence on our lives, but whose name is not even known by millions of
Americans. Please read my review.
Happy Old Year!
Do you really think that 2008 will be very different from 2007? I don’t.
There are a lot of things that ought to change, but will not:
- The President — unfortunately, the country is stuck with him and his
crowd until January of 2009, unless, perchance, the assassins of Benazir
Bhutto should decide to come over here and practice their arts, but then, why would
they help us?
- The war in Iraq — forget about it ending this year. On the outside
chance that Ron Paul gets elected,
he said he’d shut it down right away, but that would be in 2009.
promised to withdraw the troops within a year; that would be in
2010 at the earliest. None of the other candidates promise anything at all,
and it’s exceedingly doubtful that members of Congress will grow spines
before then, even with all science knows about stem cells. The flag-draped
caskets will continue arriving and the money that could be spent on things
that would improve life will continue sinking into the sands of the Middle
- The candidates — they’ll be getting fewer, but not better. Except
for Paul, the Republicans are pretty undifferentiated. They are all
struggling to find ways not to be dragged down by Bush’s unpopularity,
while trying to be otherwise the same, but with better grammar. To greater
or lesser degrees, they are bringing religious prejudice into their
campaigns. (What other reason is there for mentioning it at all?)
has a history of trying to undermine democracy with legislation to limit the
speech and participation of groups that represent their voter members,
hardly something to brag about. Giuliani
made a career of presuming people guilty until proven innocent as a U.S.
Attorney. Only Huckabee,
Paul and Thompson
have decent records on supporting the Second Amendment.
The Democrats are, for the most part, also pretty undifferentiated and not
much to get excited about. Clinton
seems to have all of the negatives of her husband (except the philandering):
machine politics and free-market, not-very-liberalism. Edwards
talks a little more in the populist vein, and has gathered, like Clinton,
some solid union support, but hasn’t shown much in the past that makes him
stand out. Obama
is hard to distinguish from the others in political positions.
differs from the pack a little in the area of animal rights and extreme vegetarianism.
The only one who stands out in a positive way from the rest is Richardson.
While most of his positions of those of typical Democrats, he has hugely
greater experience in foreign affairs than the rest, and is the only
Democratic candidate with a position on the Second Amendment that is based
on a real understanding of the facts and the situations of real people, as
opposed to knee-jerk hysteria. This could be a secret weapon for him if he
would emphasize it more but, alas, he doesn’t, probably on the advice of
some political advisor.
- The education system — most children will continue being left
behind, at least from where they ought to be for their age. Public education
has been deteriorating for at least three decades, since its
Sputnik-generated boom. More and more teachers who were educated in that
period are retiring, being replaced by people who got their starts after the
decline began. Those who are really dedicated to their profession, probably
a significant majority, continue to be frustrated by students and families
who don’t really care, by bureaucrats who have left teaching behind, and
by political correctness and education fads that make things worse. Here in
La-La-Land, it is all made worse by weak spending, a mayor who is trying to
take over education for political reasons (and is not only failing at that,
but not doing well in his traditional mayoral duties, not to mention his
loss of respect stemming from an extramarital affair and a break-up with his
wife) and strife between the bureaucrats and the teachers union.
Since this country had such an excellent public education system in the
recent past, it is baffling why no one seems to be examining that for ways
to improve the current situation. First, there should be a point-by-point investigation
of the differences between then and now, and then a concentration on those
divergences to correct things. Second, since math and science were strong
points then and weak points now, methods and textbooks used in the ’60s
ought to be reintroduced in updated form to teach the subjects now. I
still have mine, if anyone wants to look at them.
- The economy — it will continue being hard to evaluate because of all
of the phony statistics being thrown at us. The United States has had its
economy deindustrialized by private interests and has sent its well-paying,
union jobs overseas. Meanwhile, government statistics shows lots of new jobs
created. Unfortunately, and dishonestly, the stats equate the former
good-paying jobs with new, service-sector McJobs. Let the economists say
what they will, a country without its own heavy industrial base is going is
going to be dependent upon the rest of the world for its survival, with the
rest able to dictate terms. What isn’t going to change with the new year
is that the economy, from the point of view of working people and not the
leaders of big business, is a lot worse we are told it is.
- The unions — stagnation and decline will persist until
members and leaders alike wake up and do something. The Los Angeles area has
the largest manufacturing base in the country. Most of it is unorganized.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of organizing going on there. The egotists
at the head of unions representing about half of the union members in the
country have seen fit to split the afl-cio,
an unconscionable act. The unions that remain in the afl-cio
might be doing some organizing somewhere in the country, but not much here.
U.S. unions are still playing footsy with the Democrats instead of exercising
independent political action, just like in the past. They do it in every
election, and every time they get screwed; no learning goes on at the level
of union leadership. In addition to deindustrialization, illegal immigrants
are undercutting the efforts unions have been making for over a century to
raises wages and benefits. The situation is bad and there is no good
leadership, no vision to try to turn things around. Too bad.
- The media — it will continue its manipulation of readers and
viewers. It will keep on covering fewer and fewer candidates, under the
guise of concentrating on those who “can win.” As a result, only the
ones the media covers will have a chance of winning. (A recent L.A. Times
supplement entitled On the Trail only mentioned Romney, Clinton,
Huckabee, Obama, Giuliani, Edwards, Thompson and McCain.) This is the same
approach the media takes on political issues it opposes. Instead of just
openly editorializing, the issues disappear from factual coverage. The press will
continue the decline in its standards and those of their staffs, in the areas
of grammar, spelling and knowledge of subject. Locally, the L.A. Times will
further dumb down and continue to pluralize millennium as millenniums
instead of the proper millennia.
- The so-called War on Terror — this will continue to be a do-nothing
enterprise that will continue to succeed only insofar as it erodes
Americans’ fundamental liberties. So far, nothing has been done to make
the United States a less desirable target. It is government policy, past,
present and probably future, that puts the American people in jeopardy for
terrorism. As long as this country’s government sides with the world’s
most repressive regimes and with the imperialist policies of the past that
divided up the Middle East among the European powers, hostile feelings will
continue. And as long as the United States sides with those who stole
Palestine from the Palestinians, hostile feelings will continue. There are
legitimate grievances against the policies this country has embraced.
Innocent people do not deserve to be terrorized. Unfortunately, despite the
ideals of the founders of this country, this country does not have clean
hands. As long as people choose to remain ignorant, and don’t force their
government to reform and live up to the country’s ideals, nothing will
change and the new year will be just like the old.
- The also-so-called War on Drugs — the lessons of Prohibition will
continue not to be learned. Neither concentrating on supply nor on demand
will have any substantial effect. Seizures will continue, maybe grow, but
the drug “industry” makes more it can sell, so the losses can be
absorbed. There will be no substantive changes in the foreseeable future.
- The world — the
whole world will continue to fester with unhappy
souls. Will 2008 be any different than 2007? Nope.
- The electorate — Americans will continue to be as gullible as
before. Advertising backed by all kinds of behavioral research works. The
population of the United States has overwhelmingly been turned into a
society of rabid consumers. People believe what is fed to them
electronically and buy into all of the gimmicks, status and political
propaganda. To wit, the candidates that the electorate will choose from, and
one of whom it will elect as president. All, of whichever party, represent
the the same policies that have gotten us into all of our current bad circumstances.
Is the electorate even asking for anything new? Not yet. Someday, maybe.
Happy Old Year!
January 1, 2008