Read This, Comrade

In an earlier post, (actually written quite late, last night) I indicated that I scored the debate for Obama based on one answer alone.  In fairness, i thought both he and McCain botched a HUGE opportunity to score points with independents, and, hell, even partisans who operate in the real world.  When asked, “will this financial crisis get worse before it gets better?”, both candidates seemed to indicate their “faith in the American economy.”  I have to ask…based on what?  Yes, we have a great work ethic and Americans are entreprenurial and innovative, to be sure.  Are workers in other countries less capable, less conscientious, less innovative?  I don’t think so.  But that, for the moment, is beside the point.  It IS going to get worse for awhile.  Why not level with America?  I think it shows no faith in Americans to constantly rub their collective shoulders and tell them how great they are.  Now, I’m not advocating that either candidate stoked the fires of fear or create panic, but a leader finds the words to illuminate the ground upon which we currently find ourselves deployed.  (a great line from a movie, but i forget which)

Just tell it how you see it.  We fell in love with a consumerist lifestyle that we can no longer maintain, nor should we.  We must, as a nation, re-evaluate what it means to be successful, and how we view and treat those that actually perform the work.  We are going to do without some programs we like.  We are going to have to make huge cuts in our defense budget.  We are all going to chip in to repair and update our infrastructure, like the generations before us, so that our children will have a reliable electric grid, and sound roads and bridges.  We are going to have to take stock of our air quality and our water supply, and protect them from those that would spoil both for the sake of profit.

This brings me back to the question of sacrifice.  Americans are starving for leadership, and will gladly make sacrifices if they are told why.  Many of us know families who have children fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.  One complaint I hear is that while their children are in harm’s way, no one outside of the military families seems to be pitching in.  That may be perception, but does it matter?

If Americans are out of work, they will obviously be spending less.  Less taxes means that Govt, on every level, will be forced to cut services and raise fees.  Volunteerism could help fill the void.  I do not mean the type of volunteerism that churches engage in as part of their ministries, because I think that keeps people surrounded by those who they feel comfortable with, and there is no opportunity to learn tolerance for other’s views or way of life.  This country is way low on tolerance to begin with.

As communities, we can share knowledge and labor and even resources under the right circumstances.  Kids need to be tutored.  Some Senior Citizen has a leaky roof in need of repair.  Is a neighbor struggling and having to work longer hours to make ends meet, and, as a consequence, not home to help their children with homework or provide a hot meal?  Could you or I invest a little time to help that family out?

I think we just need to be asked.

I’m afraid we have all been sold on this idea that asking for help is somehow un-American.  I know we all consider ourselves rugged individualists, ready to do without if we can’t do it ourselves.  Well, I guess we are about to find out if that is indeed who we are.

UPDATED TO ADD: Glad to see others liked that answer as well.  Heres a quote from Andrew Sullivan:

9.33 pm. Obama’s response on the question of sacrifice of citizens was out of the park. He was able to ask for sacrifice without seeming like a scold or a doom-monger. That’s tough. And his insistence that he too favors off-shore drilling and reveres military service and wants others to shoulder the burden now uniquely born by the military was exactly right. This is overwhelmingly now in Obama’s favor

And…From the Moderate Voice:

There were several tough questions tonight but two that I will focus on – the sacrifice question and the one regarding priorities of the new administration. McCain answered the sacrifice question by shifting the focus to Obama’s earmarks – he never brought up the word Sacrifice or Service once. Obama gave a response that was reminiscent of President Kennedy when he said “I think the young people of America are especially interested in how they can serve, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m interested in doubling the Peace Corps, making sure that we are creating a volunteer corps all across this country that can be involved in their community, involved in military service, so that military families and our troops are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing America.”



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3 responses to “Read This, Comrade

  1. democommie

    Does this mean I have to stop splurging at Wendy’s?

    Politicians have gotten to the point where they simply can’t (in most cases) tell the truth because they’re afraid of losing their seat on the gravy train.

  2. I had a conversation about two weeks ago with a friend of mine – the friend is in the music biz – artist management specifically – and on the side, he invests a good bit of money in the markets, closely watches them, and has a good grasp on how they work and how we as investors are affected.

    Over a few beers – that I won in a bet, coincidentally, on correctly wagering what color Hillary Clinton would wear at the Democratic Convention – we discussed the state of our respective businesses.

    This was in the middle of the gas drama here. And we were talking about the state of things in town. Then he went on to talk about how the music industry is affected, as in how gas prices are affecting the artist’s ability to tour. There are thousands of people who make their living schlepping all the gear across the nation to take concerts to the fans. And even if the acts can get to the venue, the concert-tickets won’t be sold because people either don’t have the money to spend on it, or can’t get gas to go. He said then, that he expected it to get worse. This was a week or two before the Wall Street meltdown.

    After filling me in on his side of the industry and how his line of work was affected, he began talking about how he was cutting back on this and that. And when he was done, I said “well, that’s all fine and good that you can cut back, but I’ve been living lean for three years. There’s simply no where else for me to cut back.”

    I went out on Monday to collect applications for holiday work. And it’s like you couldn’t tell anything was wrong. Note, this was in a more prosperous part of town, and those people don’t feel the pain like most, but at 1 pm on Monday, people were at the mall, business as usual. I don’t know if they don’t “get it” or if they’re doing us all a favor by spending money.

    From a conversation with a few neighbors on my street I gauged the feeling of a small group of people, and it looks equally bad. I am one of 4 graphic designers on my block.

    One neighbor is a film maker, who is trying to secure millions of dollars to get movies made. Think anyone is going to cough up that kind of money in this economy? With another strike looming?

    Directly, next door, a contractor. He’s been doing work around his own house.

    Another contractor lives on the street; I hear things are bad, but I’ve not talked to him. I’ve just seen him home more often than most days.

    Across the street lives one of the graphic designers I was talking about. He owns his own firm and has a handful of employees. He said business was “dead”.

    I just have a bad feeling. I’m trying to be optimistic. I really am.

    I have great neighbors. I really do. Tonight, I was sitting here working on a painting and one called and invited me over for dinner. When she needed help moving from the house her family lived in prior, she hired me to help. When I go to the grocery store, I always call her and ask if I can pick up anything for her. She did the same for me today. This saves gas and frees up our time.

    I guess my point here is, I agree with you — it’s not Un-American to ask for help. And it’s not nosy to offer it. It’s just being a caring human being. I grew up in a small town where people took care of one another. And I’m extremely blessed to find a semblance of small town life on my street. About 4 of my neighbors have a key to my house. I trust them. They trust me. And we take care of one another. And that’s the way it should be.

  3. democommie

    Beth and Mack:

    Well said, both of you. It will be a long, cold winter for a lot of folks.


    Sorry if this is improper, I just wanted it to get out there where it would be seen by as many people as possible.

    This shit has to stop.

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