When isn’t a choice? . . .

By Isis Win

We all watched the Presidential address before Congress. Well, I mean . . . grown-up, responsible, concerned, contributors to the well-being of the US did. No pun intended.  We all learned the President has a plan called “The Employment Act”, a plan that he will be presenting to the House.  In his speech, Obama urged the Congress to pass it with no delay. He said, it is enough of political circus and it’s time to address the problem that America faces: a stagnant economy.

Analysts, economists, journalists, and politicians had expressed in the recent weeks that we are sinking into a double-digit recession. The numbers don’t lie and the question remains; How to stop the downfall?  But many other questions grow because of the financial crisis started during the second part of 2007: What happened all this time? Why has the crisis not been halted cold?  Why have the numbers that create growth not started to move steadily forward, giving us at least signs of recuperation? Most people blame the White House. Among those, a little more than half, directly point to Obama. The rest, express some confidence in the president. But speculating will neither stop nor fix the problem.  It is not foreign to anyone to acknowledge that when financial doom hits at home, there is no other choice but to address it with drastic measures and repair it as promptly as is possible, doing all that can be done. But fixing a financial downturn for an entire nation is another matter compare to a personal financial crisis.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, thousands and thousands of people lost every single penny they had. Most banks folded, taking their users with them. Industries failed because no money in the hands of the buyers meant no sales. No sales meant no production, and no production meant factories closing their doors. Factories closed, meant no jobs. No jobs meant no income to be taxed, and no income taxes meant no government revenue. A vicious domino effect that seemed endless. However, although it took a long of time of no revenue, we recovered, regardless of other tougher issues that showed up not so long after, such as the Second World War. About a decade post war, the U.S. was flourishing, making it a “model nation” that was to be followed and respected, and as if that did not suffice, clearly we had become the most powerful nation in the world. So what’s happening this time? Why is the crisis so persistent? Well, for starters, we can’t compare the Great Depression to our actual crisis. Similar yes, but a different breed, a different animal.

Our current financial melt down wasn’t exclusive. The rest of the world has rolled down the hill with us. Perhaps they were able to manage somehow “better”, but no nation is out of the fire yet. In fact, the entire world is balancing on a thin wire and hoping something comes up and helps them to keep in balance.

Is that possible? How can that be done? Is there anything else that needs to be done besides of what the White House can do? Oh yes, and in fact, the President spoke, to appeal to everyone for that purpose. Not just those that already lost their jobs, their houses and a large portion of their monies earned through years. The President was clear asking those that still have more than the rest of the population to bite the bullet and contribute their part. This is something that the Republicans hate and will fight until the end, according to several Senators and Congressmen and women. Is is something that, in time, will become a political battle of all sorts. Undoubtedly, the Tea Party has risen from the very same place as the Republicans: They represent the interests of the rich and powerful people of the nation, who refuse to take further loses. This, even after all those that had substantial investments in the housing and mortgage industries made billions and billions of dollars, previously to the burst of the bubble, the very reason for this failure.

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of this crisis is the sound fact that it was self-created. It was created by the hands of unscrupulous people who negotiated mortgages. Even when many should not take place. I remember well, during 2006 I was offered by a mortgage specialist, the purchase of a home, in the SFO bay area. That purchase was far from my possibilities. I was promised my application would pass and I’d get at least three-quarters of a million dollars. And it required almost no money down. This proposal sounded like a dream come true. But reality set in right away even though the loaner insisted, I was way wrong. I was unemployed, recently moved to the area, I had a modest amount of money in savings and I had a business prospect that I needed to get started before I would commit into a mortgage. Still, my friend insisted I will qualify. I turned down the offer, based on my consciousness and common sense. A year later, my business never took off, I moved out of the bay area, was unemployed and all my money, including retirement were gone. And I didn’t purchase that house! Nevertheless, many of those buyers not only lost all their money, but as well now are homeless. I am not, thank goodness!

I knew, since the days real state prices ballooned out of proportion, that the bubble would at some will burst. But I admit, I never envisioned another depression. Now, like the rest of the people in the nation, I am paying for the mistake from people’s greed that caused to the entire world to shake as never before. I am not complaining, I don’t blame anyone directly, I don’t expect anyone to come to my rescue. Although I was laid off from my employment in 2007 and have the right to Unemployment Insurance, I never collected it. My conscience tells me there are many families that need those monies more than I do and at some point, those monies can fade out. It is happening and that is the reason Obama urged the Congress to pass his proposed Employment Act with no delay.  Besides balancing the nation’s financial sheet, we need to update and repair our infrastructures, and none of this can occur without revenue.The country has no revenue simply because the only revenue the government can get comes from tax payers. In order to pay taxes, the people must become employed, have income and people must start spending their money. There is no choice there.

Most people I know are from low middle class to upper middle class. A few of them are liberals or democrats. Most, are not only conservative republicans, they are radical, extremist republicans. I can call them “fundamentalist”. I’ve been watching them. They still own their homes, and though their businesses are not making as much revenue as prior to the crisis, they are surviving well. But they refuse to contribute their part to move the country forward.
Let me share one particular example. A couple I’ve known for several years. Both used to bring home an average of $350,000 yearly. They worked really hard from scratch to get there. Their business was doing fine although still was much more room for growth. In fact, he invested $250K previous to the crisis in new, high-tech equipment. Everyone who knows them consider them a “perfect couple”. They enjoy several common things together all the time. Such as golf, dancing, eating out, drinking, socializing. They have a nice family. Kids and grand kids and although not as perfect as they are, they don’t differ much. My friends’ lifestyle has changed very little. They claim that they are helping the country to move forward by showing confidence and supporting several business. Perhaps they are right.
When the health bill was at the table of negotiation, they both not only showed their antagonism, but they’ve lobbied among their multiple friends about it. I asked him why? He simply stated that he can’t afford it. I told him healthy, secured and happy employees produce much better than average. We both know his employees are not as productive as they are supposed to.  He said: rubbish! What about their employers? What about me? Do I have the same right? I responded yes! But you can take it as an investment. I’ve never seeing him as pissed ever before. End of the conversation.
A year later, we were chatting about trivial things but somehow he expressed his interest in some of my political views. BTW, he’s a politician in office, so I gave the inquiry a green light. After covering assorted political businesses, it was clear his invitation was to lecture me in conservative/republican ideas. All against Obama’s. I wanted to pull out of the conversation but he didn’t allow me to. Then, he brought up Obama’s tax hike for earners of $250K and up. I said I agree with that. He became almost as outraged as the first time we exchanged views a few months before. Both remained calm, but he said will do whatever is necessary to get Obama out of the White House. At that point I asked him if he disliked Obama. He responded  YES. In It was clear without any explanation not only because Obama’s policies, or being a democrat. Go figure! I knew that much beforehand, although he’d managed before to avoid expressing his real sentiment post-elections.  He has been politically correct letting others know that Obama in the White House is an opportunity that the people of the US deserved and wanted. I know, that he never felt that way. As well, today I know, that his level of patriotism is almost none. He wouldn’t join or let his children join the arm forces in ANY situation, even if we were invaded, for instance. Well, his children are the same. Perhaps more self-centered than them.

For Obama’s personal career, his timing in office couldn’t be any worse. But undoubtedly, I am happier and more confident seeing him at the White House, instead of McCain and Palin. I have no doubts that they wouldn’t be able to pull off the nation forward. After their campaign, I was left with a sense of two empty shells. I believe likely they would create more problems than Obama. Obama became a politician because his beliefs and not as consequence of his ambition. Although we can say the rest of the politicians are equally patriotic, all it takes is to see it is their record, so we know the truth. McCain has not supported any of the White House proposals to get the country out this jam. He, like the rest of the republicans, has opposed Obama on just about everything that has come out of the White House. However, McCain and Palin, never clearly and decisively opposed Bush’s policies and initiatives. Bush was their “leader of the gang” regardless of any possible mistake that was in sight. Why not Obama? He is the actual president!  

The US was victimized not by Obama. In fact, not even Bush, the president that moved all strings that one way or another one, are responsible of the actual status of the US. What’s going on in the country is the result of years of neglect during which time PAC’s and lobbying “engines” pushed an agenda that, indeed, help them to become richer. However, their fortunes stayed among them and did not enrich or help the country. Yes, this is a capitalist country, and all is about commerce and revenue, but when the goose that lays the golden eggs dies, there are no more golden eggs, period.

Obama’s initiatives are far from perfect. However, considering that the negotiating process with republicans has been tough, if not impossible, he had done as much as the vitriolic political world of the US permitted him. Some people tend to believe: since his the president, he can enforce his policies and the country would move forward. But politics in a democratic nation and formed by a Congress and a House of Representatives, simply doesn’t work like that. There is very little compromise and there is more party struggle and for the sake of seeking power and control – and take the proper credit for it. So, Obama has been mostly dispossessed of having any kind of credit. Like if that is one of the tickets the nation needs badly. Instead, everyone is concerned, unhappy and heavily divided. Those are not items that can possibly help the country.

On the other hand, we have an upcoming election and republicans are doing as much as their power permits, to be the winner of the next election, a sad and pathetic reality because no republican candidate has shown a clear vision and experience to tack the problems we are facing. Like Palin, all they do is put words in the mouths of their followers and the press. The press as well, simply is resonating all is being said and without consideration of the damage that such may do to the political process and the nation. It is the equivalent of spreading poison between republicans, the White House and the voters, which is NOT what the country needs, by any means. Therefore, President Obama has come to the voters and nation, stating “he has a plan that can deliver and it can be carried out, even considering the times and situation. There were no specifics but it was clear, the republican end of the House did not support his speech. I don’t know enough about legislative law to know if the President possibly has “a card up his sleeve” that will enable him to implement his Employment Act and prove to the nation that he knows how to run the country. Perhaps he can win the upcoming election. But it takes no science to figure out that having a new face in the White House will delay any possible solution, if simply because the winner will need to receive all the necessary briefings about the true situation and what is legally possible and not. Then, they will know what is needed to implement any policy that can bring the country and world back. Read = a bad timing we can’t afford now. However, having a second term president at the White House, during this crisis, points as the best possible scenario, regardless of whether we are conservative or democrats.
After all, this situation of ours, is not about our individual situation or political belief, although we may feel like it. This situation is about the nation and the rest of the world. If we fail, many other nations will, as well. If that happens, a situation without any precedent in our history clearly will overburden even an experienced president. And timing today, is vital to insure we don’t step the wrong way. If we do, the result will be much more than the financial collapsed world’s economies. It will become the same vitriolic status we see among our politicians but between countries. And have no doubt, it may represent as well, wars between countries. Real wars to insure the survival of each nation. Therefore, today, we are out of choices. Keeping Obama in power offers the only possibility. Enforcing agendas that are disliked by a sector of the population, offers better possibilities, such as tax increases and the removal of corporate loop holes. Large corporations must bite the bullet and contribute in any possible fashion for the well-being of the country. That offers possibilities. In other words, we have no other choice than leaving things as they are  setting aside our differences, and keeping Obama in the Presidency, supporting his policies. If the nation fails, we all go down with it.

We have no other choice. Perhaps if there is one, the only one is, to watch the NFL battle. lol

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HELLO: Austerity you said?

Austerity you said?
By Isis Win
I’ve lived through times in which the government was forced to austerity. I did in Mexico City after the peso devaluation in the ’70s, and again in Guatemala almost a decade after. Programs suffered the most and with the “excuse” of shortness of cash, many institutions suffered to a point where they were no longer able to provide support to their tax payers. Ironically, tax payers pay taxes to guarantee that they are provided for their services when they need them.
Currently, due to the financial status in the world, the heavy cost of running government and the increased debt, the U.S. is in need of activating all measures to save money. Continue reading