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Sat

26

Sep

2009

Why Obama has Problems with the New American Left
Saturday, 26 September 2009 21:05
by Timothy V. Gatto

I watched a video of Barack Obama addressing the UN General Assembly. There is one thing that can be said of our president; he appears to be realistically sincere and what he espouses can’t really be argued with. The man is a master at pointing out what needs to be done to further humanity and the highest principles that we should all aspire too. The truth is that after eight years of George W. Bush, it’s not too hard to become a little bit enthralled with his straight talking sensibility. He tells the American people and the rest of the world exactly what they want to hear and what I completely believe he means.

This doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a few misgivings about how he singled out Iran when talking about nuclear proliferation. He claimed that until they “play by the rules” of the non-proliferation treaty, that the United States and the world will hold them “accountable”. As far as I know, the IAEA has been given unfettered access to Iran’s nuclear power generation plants. The NPT treaty allows countries that generate nuclear power the right to develop nuclear fuel for their facilities. I have never read or heard that Iran was enriching uranium over the limit allowed for nuclear fuel for nuclear weapons. I believe that Obama was simply ratcheting up the rhetoric in order to let Iran know that we are watching them.

On the same subject, I didn’t hear him say anything about Israel and its refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Most analysts believe that Israel has between 300 and 800 nuclear warheads. To be fair, Israel should have also been singled out for criticism. While Obama supported rights for the Palestinian people along with calling for security for the Jewish State of Israel, he failed to mention the carnage that Israel brought to Gaza a few short months ago, killing more women and children than Hamas resistance fighters.

Still, Obama was infinitely better than Bush. One could say that at least we are starting to turn the corner as far as a rational foreign policy and a degree of civility in international affairs. This is something that most clear-thinking Americans have been desperately hoping for. The times of America acting unilaterally in dealing with nations that we don’t agree with seem to be over. Obama seems to be the kind of leader that will work with coalitions of like-minded nations. We can all agree that this is a good thing at this time in history when we are trying to negotiate a very slippery slope as far as climate change, the world-wide recession and extremists are concerned.

I believe that Barack Obama believes in what he says. The trouble with most of our leaders is that they don’t see the world in quite the same manner as those that have not been as successful as they are. Barack Obama has reached the pinnacle of power and success in a fairly short time. Life must seem good to him; the work he has done to reach the high water mark has not been in vain. The institutions that he defends, the work ethic he admires and the general goodness of America’s political and economic system cannot be ignored in his case and in other cases where success has come to those that have worked hard to be where they are.

The truth is that Barack Obama has been extremely fortunate. There are others that have tried to follow the same path and have gotten nowhere. While Obama praises our economic system and admires its virtues, most people under capitalism have not prospered. In fact, the middle-class of America has lost approximately $2000 a year in income for the past two years before this recession. The figures have not come out on where the middle-class finds itself now. It’s a safe bet that the middle-class is on the ropes like no other time since the great depression. If things continue as they have, even before our financial system almost went belly-up, we will have no more middle-class. We will have only the rich and the poor. Let me throw some figures out on the reality of America’s economic direction.


In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2004, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.3% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.3%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.2%. (University of California at Santa Cruz, May 2009)

The fact is that our economic system works well for about 20% of Americans. In a nation such as ours, a first world nation that’s an economic giant, 80% of our people eek out a nominal wage that barely lets them pay for necessities like food and shelter and transportation. The so-called “free enterprise” system that the tea-party members speak so lovingly about have led to an epidemic of death from lack of health insurance.

“Researchers examined government health surveys from more than 9,000 people aged 17 to 64, taken from 1986-1994, and then followed up through 2000. They determined that the uninsured have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those with private health insurance as a result of being unable to obtain necessary medical care. The researchers then extrapolated the results to census data from 2005 and calculated there were 44,789 deaths associated with lack of health insurance.” (CNN)

Free enterprise and capitalism seem to be synonymous with patriotism and freedom. It is a prerequisite in this period of American history to be a supporter of unrestricted capitalism. It was precisely that which engineered the latest recession. Conservatives and those in the middle of America’s political spectrum are ardent supporters of capitalism, even if it means supporting measures that are against their own best interests. I witnessed this first-hand at a town hall meeting presided over by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC). At that meeting he received a standing ovation when he came out against the administration’s health care proposal as against free-enterprise and represented a form of socialism. This in a State that has unemployment in the 12% range and one of the lowest median income averages in the nation.

Barack Obama campaigned on the premise of universal health care with a single-payer configuration or at the very least a “public option” for those that cannot get health care policies from insurers because of pre-existing conditions or an inability to pay steep premiums. These important prerequisites seem to have disappeared and in its place a bailout for the insurance companies seem to have taken their place.

Barack Obama pledged that the United States would not turn a blind eye to developing nations, promising to fund HIV programs, polio and malaria prevention and clean water for the world’s poor. This is a very noble concept, but when you consider that there are 24,700,000 unemployed Americans at this point in time, the best thing Obama could do is concentrate on his own constituency. FDR developed the WPA (the Works Progress Administration) and created hundreds of thousands of jobs and helped rebuild America’s infrastructure. Obama could emulate FDR and do the same. The rabid protestations from the right claiming that he will turn the country into a “socialist state” should not deter him. The welfare of the American public should come first and foremost. Socialism exists with capitalism in many countries, China is a good example. One reason for China’s rebound from the recession according to experts is that the government is the country’s leading employer. Socialism exists right here in America in the form of the Armed Services, the Post Office, most government agencies, police departments and fire departments. Fears of socialism turning the nation towards communism are unfounded. The Cold War mentality should be retired.

Life, as I said before is good for Barack Obama. It’s also good for the CEO’s and CPO’s of huge corporations that regularly bribe Congress and the executive branch with campaign contributions and promises of employment after leaving government service. Life is good for old families born into wealth. The chances of becoming as rich as the Rothschild’s or the Rockefellers’ are unfortunately a billion to one. Those people that can’t embrace anything resembling any form of socialism need not worry. A binary economic system with socialism and capitalism working side by side is quite possible. Obama needs to stop coddling the right and concentrate on what he needs to do to lift the economy from the bottom up instead of the top down. Money in the pockets of ordinary citizens will spur the economy better than pumping billions of dollars into investment banks and financial institutions that will do nothing for the retail sector.

He broached the subject of Palestine and Israel but failed to go far enough. Israel seems to be looking for a fight in the Middle-East, whether it is the Palestinians or the Iranians, it seems that they are not happy unless they are warring on some nation. It’s time to put the brakes on military aid. Dropping white phosphorus into a city of 1.5 million with a median age of 14 years old isn’t a very honorable thing for a nation to do. Destroying a UN compound after it declared itself a non-combatant zone is an international crime. By supporting Israel in the face of these facts makes the United States an accomplice.

Yes, Barack Obama is better than Bush, but lethal injection is better than the electric-chair too. We expect more from Obama, which is precisely why he has trouble with the New American Left in this country.

             Timgatto@hotmail.com        http://liberalpro.blogspot.com Read Tim's New Book Complicity to Contempt .


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September 27, 2009
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