Not What We Expected

international student movement
international student movement

Not What We Expected

Political Animal – The suicide rate continues to soar; or, how our dysfunctional economy is literally killing us

Our pension system is a shambles and we’ve seen a wave of mortgage foreclosures. Many people in this economy have lost their jobs and everything they’ve worked hard for all their lives, and have no realistic prospects of finding a decent job ever again. They are understandably freaked out, stressed out, and depressed. Losing one’s job is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a person, especially in this dismal economy. Moreover, when people lose their jobs, they also tend to lose their health insurance. And without access to decent mental health care, many depressions go untreated.

In the Times, one expert has this to say:

“The boomers had great expectations for what their life might look like, but I think perhaps it hasn’t panned out that way,” she said. “All these conditions the boomers are facing, future cohorts are going to be facing many of these conditions as well.”

How many people in this country will end their working lives having seen a significant decline in their living standards, relative to the standards their parents enjoyed? For the first time in America, declining economic mobility is a reality for many of us. The dashed dreams and expectations so many Americans are experiencing may explain much of the increased suicide rate. This economy is literally killing us.

Political Animal – The suicide rate continues to soar; or, how our dysfunctional economy is literally killing us

I was a little boy when Walter Cronkite had a program called “The 21st Century.” It talked about the wonders we could look forward to in the new century. We had a lot of hope and belief in continuous progress. The United States had done so much and had been so successful, we knew things could only get better.

We were wrong. The 21st Century is not what we expected,  not in our wildest dreams. Some of what people thought was supposed to happen was silly: personal robots, etc; but economic insecurity? in the United States? No one would have believed that.

The middle class is severely damaged, opportunity more circumscribed than the Gilded Age. The dreams of building great cities, great wonders, etc. don’t even seem to exist.

For the 1% this is a golden age beyond all imagining, and yet they do not have enough. They want more.

Yes, some people in the face of this kind of world are opting to die. I’m not surprised. We were supposed to be better off not worse.

James Pilant

Bill Moyers Fights the Good Fight

Here is a selection of the words of Bill Moyers. The first is from Salon and is in print today, February 14th, Valentine’s day. The next three are closing remarks from episodes of Bill Moyers’ Journal. You might say that this is a valentine to Bill. May he live a hundred years and continue to inspire us every day of that time.

James Pilant

America’s billionaire-run democracy – 2012 Elections –

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny — they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others — the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.

The obstacles facing the millennial generation didn’t just happen. Take an economy skewed to the top, low wages and missing jobs, predatory interest rates on college loans: these are politically engineered consequences of government of, by and for the 1 percent. So, too, is our tax code the product of money and politics, influence and favoritism, lobbyists and the laws they draft for rented politicians to enact.

America’s billionaire-run democracy – 2012 Elections –

Plutocracy and Democracy Do Not Mix

Bill Moyers on Greed

Bill Moyers on the American Dream

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Komen Backs Off and We’re Supposed to Forgive and Forget?

English: Prevention Park, is the largest Plann...

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Komen Apologizes; Pledges To Continue Planned Parenthood Grants | Crooks and Liars

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

Komen Apologizes; Pledges To Continue Planned Parenthood Grants | Crooks and Liars

Wow, I should be impressed except I’m not.

The organization has already provided solid evidence that women’s health is not their first concern. They have only reversed their decision based on politics. And be clear, they backed down on this particular issue but it is only a temporary setback for their anti-Planned Parenthood stance and their move toward anti-abortion politics.

Think of all the different ways through other grants and political pressure that they can influence the future of women’s health in this country and in the world. They gave up on this point under political pressure but can it be more obvious what the future stance of the organization is going to be? This is not victory for women’s health or a defeat for their organization. It is a truce to allow them to regroup and fight another day.

I want you to read the brief excerpt above. Notice the phrase “disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.” I can drive an ocean liner through that exception. How many district attorneys are there in the United States – just a few thousand? So, all we to do to disqualify Planned Parenthood again is to have one of these district attorney conduct a “criminal” investigation. Now you might object that doesn’t consider the word, “conclusive,” which of course means a conviction. Except that it doesn’t. If they had wanted a conviction to be necessary to disqualify an organization, they would have used that word. I’ll tell you what the word, conclusive means in that sentence – anything they want it to.

From now on they will act to defund Planned Parenthood and services to poor women and we know they will because they have already by their actions demonstrated their intent. If they intended to really reverse the policy decisions of the last few days, there would be firings and changes in personnel at the top of the organization. Do you see any?

One of the most disturbing elements of this whole affair is how stupid the Susan G. Komen Foundation leadership believes the public are. They cut off Planned Parenthood on the most spurious of grounds (a Congressional investigation) against a background of Republican donations and the hiring of a stalwart in the anti-abortion movement. Then they tell us it was non-political. Look at the phrasing of their press release . They claim they were only fulfilling their “fiduciary” duty by cutting off the organization. First, I think they used the word merely because it was multisyllabic and sounded legal. Second, I have to wonder if it was their fiduciary duty to cut off Planned Parenthood what happened between yesterday and today that nullified that duty? Fiduciary responsibilities are not optional, they are binding.

I still believe that giving money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation is a questionable decision based on the events of the last few days. I believe if you look at the evidence you will come to the same conclusion.

James Pilant

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False Equivalence Watch: Et Tu, PBS? – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic

I am totally with James Fallows on this issue (and we definitely don’t always agree). But it is just wrong for the beltway media to take “ a plague on both your houses” attitude on the news when it comes to discussing passing or not passing legislation. An accurate description of who voted for what and who used the filibuster is far more relevant and intelligent than an attitude that those Democrats and Republicans should play nice with each other.

I don’t want them to play nice with each other. I want the middle class in this country protected and I’m tired of compromise.

How do you tell who your friends and enemies are if the dominant media narrative is the two political parties aren’t worth a damn and you should leave politics alone because it’s a dirty business?

I don’t like the Democrats and I like the Republicans even less but if the media drives most people from political discussion and action than a small minority are going to be the activists and that is counterproductive in a democracy.

James Pilant


James Fallows

False Equivalence Watch: Et Tu, PBS? – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic

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Why Young Adults Are Walking Away From Church by Christian Piatt

In a column in Huffington Post, Christian Piatt discusses the why behind the exodus of the young from church.

Here’s my favorite paragraph –

Alisa Harris’ memoir, “Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics,” reflects on the apparent cultural, spiritual and economic desert time in which we find ourselves. We have witnessed the carnage of a financial system that was intended to perpetually buoy a nation, but whose “invisible hand” has instead crushed the dreams of millions. We’ve watched as the two-headed political serpent attacks itself until it is impotent. We’ve seen religious figures scandalize their institutions empty, as a generation walks away in search of something more relevant to their daily struggle.

Church attendance has fallen dramatically over the last twenty years. In 2005, Protestants represented half those practicing a religion in the United States for the first time.

What’s going on?

I see two trends. The mainline Protestant churches continue to bleed membership. The evangelical movement has hit a wall in recruitment and can neither maintain its growth and or maintain its current numbers. The second trend is new. I suspect that it has a great deal to do with the impact of the political action on a church organization. It is probably a delight to go out and organize precincts handing out conservative literature instead of sitting through a boring sermon, after all, politics is a lot easier than Christianity. But for many the Christian call remains a powerful inducement and a church that acts as a political action committee has little time for gospel issues.

I do not see these trends reversing although I suspect the mainline bleed has to end at some point.

James Pilant

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