Section on Politics
The Debt Crisis
The more threatening dangers in the political handling of recent "debt crisis" are not over with the legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Even beyond the legislation's disastrous consequences of for the poor, the process used to arrive at the decision poses a direct threat to democracy. The direct power of the financial industry over government has also become explicit.
The so-called debt crisis is over. It had little to do, however, with the national debt and the real crisis is far from over.
The debt crisis was completely manufactured. Everyone knew from the very beginning that the ceiling on the national debt limit would have to be raised because the country must take on more debt in order to pay its past debts
Common Sense on Social Security
As politicians and pundits debate what to do about the exploding federal deficit, the Social Security Trust Fund will be an easy target. Dire predictions about the future of the fund will create pressures to reduce Social Security benefits. In fact Social Security currrently has a $2.6 trillion surplus, has not contributed at all to the federal debt, and minor corrections will be enough to keep the fund solvent indefinitely. Let's not be confused by the hype!
Note: The decision to reduce 2010 FICA taxes in order to stimulate the economy considerably alters some of the calculations below, especially if the cuts are continued indefinitely, as -- given political realities -- they probably will. This will radically reduce the long-term viabililty of Social Security.
Health Care for Everyone
This article was written before the President and Congress refused even to put a single-payer plan on the table health during the legislative battle of 2010.
President-elect Obama has promised to enact health care reform early in his administration. Indeed, he is now soliciting advice from his supporters (asking for e-mailed suggestions and encouraging house-meetings between December 15 and December 31, 2008, that would relay their findings to his transition team). Unfortunately, the options that currently seem to be on the table have little chance for long-term success. In fact, Obama has acknowledged that his plan will not even offer universal health care coverage as people who feel the plan is too expensive for them will be allowed to opt out.
Barack Obama & Rev Jeremiah Wright
In March of 2008, presidential hopeful Barack Obama ran into a firestorm of criticism when video clips of sermons preached by Obama's pastor, Rev Jeremiah Wright, hit the Internet. From my point of view, the criticisms of Obama were fueled by the persistent racism and white misunderstandings of American racial history that have permeated our national history.
The current controversy over Barack Obama’s relationship with his former pastor, Rev Jeremiah Wright, deserves our close attention. I say this not as an Obama supporter (although I happen to support him) but as a citizen deeply concerned about race in America. This is an important teachable moment: The issue is race and—as seems so often to be true—it’s we white people who have something to learn, something to grow into.
Onward Christian Organizers
This is a short piece that appeared in my favorite blog TomDispatch in February of 2006. Tom Engelhardt, who writes and edits the blog, is a good friend and asked me to write a piece about Christians in the movement. It seems that some of our secular leftist friends are sometimes surprised to find Christians on their side. So I wanted to introduce ourselves.
I don't always find the invisibility comforting.
Almost any column in any progressive magazine analyzing the reactionary politics of the far right these days will at some point get around to taking a hard look at the Christian right that has given so much energy and supplied so many foot soldiers to that movement. Fair enough! It's a disturbing connection that should be teased apart. But then, it seems, the lefty columnist sometimes can't resist the temptation to lump all Christians together, as if everyone who believed in God and tried to follow Jesus cared only about preventing gay marriage and making abortion illegal.
As a Christian -- and a leftist -- myself, I can take the occasional lampooning, but it makes me wonder whether you on the secular left, especially the intelligentsia, realize I'm here, realize how many of the foot soldiers of the Left are Christians (or other religious people) whose activism springs from deeply held faith.