Views on politics and current events

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Random Thoughts On The Aftermath Of Election '06

With Democrats having a majority now in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, the American electorate has spoken. It tends to happen that congress switches controlling parties, many times congress switches to the opposite party of the sitting adminstration. This in itself can be looked upon as evidence that the American electorate prefers a division of power between the parties. And is most evident in this current election result after six years of one party controlling two branches of government.

So now the question is, what does this mean? After one of the greatest do-nothing congresses in American history, does the shift of power mean that finally some much-needed legislation will be forthcoming from the new congress? Being a born-again skeptic, the best I can be is cautiously optimistic. Some reasons for that optimism:

  • The 'resignation' (more like a boot out the door) of Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Rumsfeld in my opinion, along with Vice-President Cheney is one of the torch-bearers of neoconservatism. In one move, President Bush has removed one torch-bearer, and gone against the influence of another. Perhaps for the first time in his presidency, Bush made a decision that is counter to an ideology that was taking this country down the road to fascism. Some analysts have taken this to be the death-knell of neoconservatism. Time will tell if that is a fact. If it indeed is a fact, everyone in this country, including conservatives, should celebrate. Neoconservatism has been the wolf in sheep's clothing, for there is nothing 'neo' (meaning new) or 'conservative' about it. It is but a reclothing of undue corporate influence in government, erosion of freedom, militarism, and power-mongering.
  • The President's jab at Karl Rove. Asked about an apparent 'book reading contest' between Bush and Rove, Bush replied that since he was busy campaigning, Rove had more time to read. This may not look like much, but as Rove is also a torch-bearer of neoconservatism, it was significant, and it implied that Rove didn't 'come through' this time. Rove's predictions of Republican victory in the election did not hold true. Has Bush finally seen the writing on the wall?
  • The President's agreement that comprehensive immigration legislation will be easier to accomplish with a Democratic congress. For a Republican president to say any legislation would be easier to arrive at with the opposition party in power is huge.
  • Bush's 'We took a thumpin' statement. Actually, what he said was a 'collective thumpin'. Admitting that many of the races were close, collectively it was a thumpin'. Perhaps Bush realizes that he has to work with the opposition? Time will tell.
  • Absence of much of Bush's previous swagger and arrogance. Have the neoconservative ideologues' failure to 'bring home the bacon' in this election caused the President to feel a loss of power? Again, perhaps. Again, time will tell.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that I am now a full supporter of Bush. He has been the President after all, and has either gone along with the neoconservatives out of personal conviction or convenience. Either way, Bush still has much to atone for in my book. And this one press conference could have been an anomoly for an otherwise arrogant President. But with power comes arrogance, and without control of congress perhaps that arrogance will be stifled.

The liberal/progressive community has had a long dry spell. The Republican-controlled congress and executive branch have accomplished very little, if anything, constructive for the country as a whole. The dry spell is over. The Democrats now are in a position to lead instead of being led. Hope springs eternal.

I sincerely hope that the Democrats use their power for the constructive solving of issues, that they leave room for compromise where there is an opportunity for compromise. And let's not go off on the use of the word 'compromise'. Compromising can only be done when there is room for compromise. I am not suggesting that Democrats need to kow-tow to anyone or sacrifice basic liberal/progressive beliefs. Not every issue is compromisable to be sure.

I would hope that the Democrats will offer a hand to the opposition, realize that a loyal opposition is vital to the working of our government, work towards changing the incredible nastiness that the Republican majority have injected into politics. It may be a tall order, after so many years of being in the minority, to not lapse into the same rut of power politics and vindictiveness. We have seen how the opposite side of the political fence operates, and it was not good for anyone. It will not be good for anyone if the Democrats do the same.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'm A Bradult Too?

A blogger with some definite opinions about your truly. The original post can be found here. I include the original post in plain text, my reply is in italics:

No one in America should feel more blessed by the Warhol syndrome – our 15 minutes of undeserved fame – than Alan Beggerow. You might remember Mr. Beggerow from his front page appearance in the July 31, 2006 edition of the New York Times (Times Select subscription required). The article’s title is, “Men Not Working, And Not Wanting Just Any Job.”

Blessed? Do you think I agreed to the Times interview to promote myself, or out of some sense of ego? No, I was approached to do the interview and I have some definite feelings about the changed workplace. That was my motivation. 15 minutes of fame, or a lifetime of anonymity are all the same to me.

The Times, attempting to portray a growing underclass of unemployed workers victimized by compassionless big business, made Beggerow its poster boy. Having worked for 30 years as a union steelworker, Mr. Beggerow found himself, at age 53, unemployed, his mill closed. But instead of finding another job, any job, to put food on his table, Beggerow used his layoff as an excuse to retire to a life of unproductive leisure.

Are you certain that my life is full of ‘unproductive leisure’? You seem to know a lot of my daily activities by reading a short article and a short TV interview.

While one’s initial reaction to Beggerow might be sympathy, what is revealed in the NYT article is a level of personal immaturity best described as self-determined emotional adolescence. Listen to his adolescent-like irresponsibility as he defends his refusal to pursue a mature course in life.

So, after 30 years of working 10-12 hrs a day, swing shift, in a steel mill in NW Illinois, I am now considered immature and irresponsible because I have chosen to live on a shoestring and accept retirement because of the present situation within the workplace? As for sympathy, I have no need of yours or anyone elses. There’s a lot of folks in worse shape than me.

''I have come to realize that my free time is worth a lot to me,'' he said. To make ends meet, he has tapped the equity in his home through a $30,000 second mortgage, and he is drawing down the family's savings, at the rate of $7,500 a year. About $60,000 is left. His wife's income helps them scrape by. ''If things really get tight,'' Mr. Beggerow said, ''I might have to take a low-wage job, but I don't want to do that.''

In an accompanying audio interview on the NYT web site, Beggerow says he saw a want ad for a full-time graphic designer at a local newspaper and it interested him. He even said he was qualified. But then he confessed that the job wouldn’t afford him the creative free time to which he had become addicted. So he chose not to pursue the job opportunity.

My free time is very valuable to me. What is so heinous about saying that? It makes no difference any more how valuable my time is to anyone else. I have spent 30 years working very hard. I exchanged those years for wages and benefits. I now choose to make my way differently.

Last Friday ABC-TV’s 20/20 gave Mr. Beggerow an extension on his 15 minutes of fame, featuring him on a segment about laziness. Again, as he did with the NYT, Beggerow proclaimed himself the renaissance man who has made the mature decision to pursue quality of life instead of materialism brought by earned income. For this we are supposed to applaud him. Reality? Alan Beggerow is a bradult; an adult brat. At age 53 he embodies all the classic signs of an adolescent.

Keep your applause for ones you deem worthy of it. I have no use for it. As for your accusation on adolescent behavior and your term bradult, you are entitled to your opinion on that. This quote from your profile “The lessons about human nature that Ron learned from these youth provide him with the principles he shares with corporations worldwide. His expertise is on the role that employee behavior plays in work team dynamics, particularly people interaction.” Makes me wonder how much about adult human nature you are aware of. I worked as a problem solving team facilitator and coordinator the last 3 years in the mill, worked directly with over 50 teams. While I have no degree or diploma,I had a world of experience in those three years, and 27 years in the plant, to know that most people that have spent most of their lives working for a living are not adolescents. Perhaps if you had the actual work experience I have, you would see things differently.

Sociologists define adolescence as the pursuit of two questions: “Who am I?,” and, “Who will I be?” Men like Mr. Beggerow beg that a third question be added: “When will I be?” Clearly, he has not grown past emotional adolescence because he’s still seeking answers to the fundamental questions asked by them.

Again, because I have chosen a different path because of workplace changes I do not agree with, I am immature? I have not answered the essential questions as defined by you? Actually, I have answered those questions, but I doubt you would understand or agree.

The immaturity of adolescents is characterized, among other things, by unrealistic expectations of what is due them, postponement of long term good for temporal fulfillment, and irrational thinking designed to excuse the pursuit of responsible behavior.

I worked 30 years in a steel mill, so my pension is an unrealistic expectation? I saved what money I could, and these funds are assisting my chosen lifestyle. Is that an unrealistic expectation? I paid into SS for over 30 years, and when I reach the qualifying age, is it an unreasonable expectation to think I should receive the benefit?

Welcome to the world of Mr. Beggerow, adult adolescent. He should be ashamed. One day, perhaps soon, when his financial resources run out and he finds it too late to get a job, he will become a burden to society. The 15 minutes of fame he now proudly possesses will turn into a till death load to the taxpayer.

I have no need to feel any shame for what I have done, what I have worked for, and what I think I am entitled to. My wife and I live very frugally to preserve our funds as long as possible. It is already too late for me to get many jobs due to my age, previous union affiliation, and various physical problems I have. If you really understood the plight of worn out laborers of my age, you might understand that. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back for being ‘productive’, and label me a burden to society. Make your remarks about 15 minutes of fame that is inconsequential, and worry about the poor taxpayers that will have to take care of me til death. You have no understanding of the situation, you have but extended the myths that the NY Times article was investigating, and you are perpetuating the ‘Great American Work Ethic’ of a bygone era. For many, that work ethic no longer applies because of globalisation, poor economy, etc.

If you’re interested in actually learning about me further, here is a link to a post on my blog:Random Thoughts. I invite you to explore other things I have written there that may give you further insight. That is, if you’re interested. If you’ve already made up your mind about me, by all means don’t bother.

The Bradult,

Alan Beggerow

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