As Obama Fixes The Economy, You Can Do Your Part
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
(Saturday, Jan 17, 2009) Tuesday, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as our nation’s 44th president. He takes the oath of office with responsibilities similar to the 43 men before him but also bearing many unique to his moment in history.
As he raises his hand accepting those responsibilities, worldwide, more eyes will be upon him than have ever witnessed a nation’s leader take office. He is the chosen leader, role model and hope of a new generation of people engaged for the first time in American politics. Likewise, he is the chosen leader, role model and hope of African Americans and other people of color who have struggled from within the system for years to see this amazing moment.
He is for all of us a chance to start anew.
He is the radical change of direction from the previous eight years. He is our response to a failed foreign policy that brought war and international disrespect. He is a symbol of inclusion to many who have been alienated from government by policies that have brought our nation and the world to the sorry state in which we find it.
He is our future.
And as a new era begins, it carries with it a momentum of its own. The moment, the nation’s emotion, the Obama magic, the historic cry for what is best in each of us, will enable the new president to launch his era with a Congress and the people prepared to listen and follow.
Tuesday is the beginning of a new America and the world is watching.
And as we arrive at this lofty moment, with high spirits and a great national call to change, we face challenges as great as any in a generation.
Two wars, the constant threat of terrorism and above all, a failing national and global economy will not take a back seat to the moment’s magic.
Fixing the credit system, creating jobs, keeping State and local governments solvent and able to provide essential services, and above all, restoring confidence in our nation’s economy to the American people is the first task.
Barack Obama has already moved to address the nation’s economy. We believe, Congress will let the president call the shots as we move toward recovery. But clearly, it is issue and a challenge number one.
The last president facing as great an economic challenge, was Franklin Roosevelt, and he recognized the people’s fear was the true enemy: “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . .”
Those words are from his first inaugural address where he laid out the initial steps for American to recover from the Great Depression. And it is the fear President Roosevelt spoke of that has prevented many of us today from spending, which has exacerbated an already challenged economy.
If, for the next several months, those of us who still receive our paychecks, didn’t worry about our retirement funds, the falling value of our homes and investments and we continued to spend as we have in the past, could it make a difference?
Today, we are told, we’re in a global economy. But to us, like politics, the economy is local. Just follow the money trail.
We don’t spend, people lose jobs; they don’t spend, more people lose jobs, and so on.
Lots of us are happy to save a few bucks by shopping at Costco, Kmart and other megastores, We search the internet for the best possible price and send hard-earned cash to god-knows-where. And we’re extra gleeful when we don’t have to pay New York’s high sales taxes. Maybe, we figure we’re doing our part for the local economy because what we save, we can spend locally.
If we change that thinking we each can help the nation fix what’s broke, by starting locally, in our own backyards. I like to think of it as “trickle up” economics.
Personally, I’m tiring of waiting for the benefits of corporate tax cuts to trickle down to me. Reagan’s gone for nearly two decades and that theory’s still a theory. I’m still waiting for something to trickle my way.
The only trick I’ve felt is Henry Paulson and George Bush giving our billions to banks to horde and buy other banks.
Let’s turn things around and let the big boys wait for the trickle for a change.
We all can make a difference by doing business locally. Even for businesses, local suppliers provide jobs to your neighbors. When those employees spend their earnings locally, we begin to weave a fabric that becomes stronger with every thread.
One can argue that the megastores provide employment, but those workers would be employed by owners of local businesses if the small stores could compete. So give them the leg up they need and buy local.
Keeping it local also helps your taxes. The local businesses not only keep our Main Streets vibrant, they pay City sales taxes that come back to us in the form of government services.
How much of that Amazon purchase comes back to your Queens community?
It may cost a little more to do business locally (and sometimes, surprisingly, it does not), but the silent benefits that you reap are priceless. This country was built from the bottom up. We should do our part and start rebuilding our economy the same way.
Me, I’m going out to eat, locally.
Democrats Organize Senate, Will They Honor Promises?
Henry J. Stern
2009. It’s a new year. The State Senate has gone Democratic for the first time in 44 years. Will that make any difference? If so, will it be for the better or for the worse? At this time, we do not know, but we are hopeful. With both houses and the governor coming from the same party, it may be easier to give credit or blame for outcomes on issues.
Last week, two columns today discussed the situation. One, in the Post, deals with official wrongdoing, corruption and misconduct. It has a lengthy cast of characters, periodically added to as new scandals come to light.
The second, a News editorial, exhorts Senate leader Malcolm Smith to keep the promises of reform which he has made publicly in recent months..
The Post op-ed piece, Statehouse For Sale: Albany’s Corruption Swamp, reviews the ethical lapses, and in some cases crimes, of state executives and legislators. It’s lead: “What’s a more important concern in Albany: childhood obesity or public corruption?
In last week’s hour long State of the State speech – with its lengthy aside about overweight kids, but not a single reference to Albany’s rampant corruption crisis – Gov. Paterson made his priorities clear.
“Yet the governor is mistaken if he assumes that the state’s fiscal plight and a random health scare will disguise the fact that New York is mired in one of the worst ethical eras in state history.”
The column is not pleasant reading, but will remind you of a bunch of crooks, some of whom you may have forgotten because they are so numerous.
The News’ editorial, A Mandate For Malcolm, puts it directly to the Senator: “Malcolm Smith, newly installed as state Senate majority leader, will start to prove today whether he has what it takes to give New York a respectable Legislature – or is just an Albany slug.”
The News finds fault with one action that Smith has already taken. “He made a big mistake in appointing Sen. Hiram Monserrate as a committee chair with a $12,500 lulu at a time when charges he slashed his girlfriend’s face with a broken glass are unresolved.” The problem here was that, with the Senate divided 32-30, Smith needed Monserrate’s vote to become leader. The glass wielder was originally one of the gang of four that threatened to oppose Smith unless they received juicy lulus, but he soon defected from the defectors and returned to the Democratic stable.
The Queens Democratic leader, Congressman Joseph Crowley, who supported Monserrate and forestalled a primary, may have explained to Monserrate why it would be in his interest to return to the fold. This all happened before the Dec. 19 unpleasantness at his Jackson Heights apartment, some of which was recorded on building security cameras. That matter is now before Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
The editorial raises a half-dozen specific reform proposals which Democrats have endorsed in the past, when they were in the minority. Now that they are, at least temporarily, in the majority with the power to make the rules, we will find out, after some delay, how many of their good-government proposals the Senate will actually adopt. If the Democrats fail to keep their word, they will not deserve to retain control of the Senate in 2010. Of course, the Republicans would do no better, but we would be spared the demonstration of hypocrisy that comes from making promises that one is unable or unwilling to keep.
We have a Rule on the subject, “A promise made is a debt unpaid.” That line comes from a narrative poem by Robert W. Service, “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, published in 1907, over a century ago.
Service (1874-1958) was known as the Bard of the Yukon since his poems were set in the Canadian Northwest. This is the seventh quatrain of the poem. The load refers to McGee’s body, which the narrator promised the dying prospector he would cremate “on the marge of Lake Lebarge.”
“Now a promise made is a debt unpaid.
And the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb,
In my heart how I cursed that load.”
It should only be that the 212 legislators in Albany (and their masters) had their own stern code, under which a promise made would be a debt unpaid. But when we ask who made the promise, we fear we will hear another rule: “Not I, said the fly.”
Not4Publication.com by Dom Nunziato