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Noted With Interest, March 2010

Mar 28, 2010

The Rage Is Not About Health Care
By Frank Rich. Excellent diagnosis of the March Madness. The Republicans—their politicians and their pundits—are fomenting rebellion with their hysteria, and are treading dangerously close to advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence. From the New York Times, Mar 27, 2009. Accessed Mar 28, 2010.

The Health Care Hindenburg Has Landed
By Chris Hedges. Dissecting Kucinich’s defection. From Truthdig.com, Mar 22, 2010. Accessed Mar 27, 2010.

Calling All Rebels
by Chris Hedges. Answer the call! From Truthdig.com, March 8, 2010. Accessed March 12, 2010.

Ralph Nader Was Right About Obama
by Chris Hedges. Another eloquent call for a third party. From Truthdig.com, Mar 1, 2010. Accessed Mar 4, 2010.

tags: Noted with Interest

Happy Daze, March 2010

Mar 27, 2010
As awful as things seem to be, nationally and globally, it is heartening to see that life (for the time being at least) does go on, and humanity continues to regale us with its unquenchable variety. Happy Daze will report only good news on a monthly basis, rather like Noted with Interest provides monthly short takes of interest, usually of a less entertaining nature.

Send us happy news we missed and we will add it to our monthly listings. Here comes this month’s so far:

* NEW * In Health Bill, Obama Attacks Inequality
By David Leonhardt. We have been arguing that income inequality is the greatest threat to our democracy. Now, it seems Obama is beginning the long haul back from the brink, if Leonhardt’s analysis is correct. From The New York Times, March 23, 2010. Accessed Mar 27, 2010.

Obama Announces Charities Where He’ll Donate Nobel Peace Prize Money
An incredibly good-hearted, far-seeing, hyper-generous gesture. The man is saintly. (Would you give up a million plus for winning the most enviable and prestigious prize the world has to offer? Of course you wouldn’t.) From Talking Points Memo, March 11, 2010. Accessed March 12, 2010.

3D Sidewalk Art That Will Blow Your Mind.
Blew mine. By Katla McGlynn. From the Huffington Post, March 1, 2010. Accessed March 1, 2010.

tags: Happy Daze

One for One and All for None

Mar 14, 2010
Update (March 14, 2010): Enfield voters, at their annual town meeting, voted overwhelmingly to support seven local nonprofits.

Originally published January 30, 2010
The headline in my local paper this morning: “Enfield: No Money for Nonprofits.”

The New Hampshire community of 4850 people has decided, “for philosophical reasons,” to drop nine social service agencies from its annual budget, saving approximately $50,000 from town expenditures of around $5,780,0001 (less than one percent). Services provided by the agencies include, in part, mass transit, mental and physical health assistance, senior citizen programs, support for victims of domestic abuse, and poverty alleviation. By anyone’s estimation, the nine agencies provide the town of Enfield with far more than $50,000 worth of important social services.

Stories such as these, as well as too many we are reading in the national press, show the extent to which the social contract is fraying. In hard times, panic trumps intelligence, and the middle class in America has been undergoing harder and harder times since the beginning of the Reagan Revolution. Somehow, in our panic, the myth that government is evil and needs to be curtailed has taken hold of the popular imagination. But government is as old as the day the first two families moved into the same cave and found they needed to forge a social contract in order to preserve internal peace and fend off external aggression.

To be sure, that government is best which governs least. However, government is the glue that binds us together and delivers, as effectively, efficiently, and economically as possible, those services which are necessary to preserve internal peace and fend off external aggression. Among those efficent services are public insurance programs which, upon superficial examination, seem to take from all to benefit the few—public education, for instance. Upon closer examination and better understanding, however, we find these programs benefit all of us some of the time, some of us all of the time, and, indeed, some benefit all of us all of the time in that they relieve us of burdens which, were they to fall upon us individually, would be disastrous.

Those social service agencies in Enfield are examples of these public insurance programs. For a relative pittance, we can, for instance, assure the services of a visiting nurse, for ourselves or a loved one, should such visits become necessary. Should they become necessary without investing that pittance, provision of such services could easily be insupportable. To argue that the public as a whole should not support these services because everyone does not use them is to miss the point entirely—of insurance, of government, of the social contract we adhere to for purposes of living together in society.

It is with profound sorrow that we here at All Together Now witness our nation’s social contract disintegrating, when we know that the time has never been more ripe for listening to our better instincts and, together, forging a new nation dedicated to the health, happiness, and well being of all its people.
1 Enfield, NH, from NH.gov, accessed Jan 30, 2010.

tags: Governance | ATN

One for the Good Guys

Mar 04, 2010
Update: March 3, 2010: Let the Rehabilitation Begin!
The first piece on saving Vermont Yankee to appear in the Times2 did so barely a week after the Vermont Senate vote to deny Entergy their bid for a 20-year extension to operate the plant. The focus this time: What will become of poor, doughty Vernon, VT, when the plant shuts down in 2012?

Originally published February 26, 2010
The corporatocracy which, today, controls the nation’s social, political, and economic life, for the apparent sole purpose of filling top management’s pockets (customers, stockholders, and workers be damned), took a small hit a couple of days ago when the Vermont Senate voted 26-4 to deny Entergy a 20-year extension to run the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. It is the first time in 20 years that the public or its representatives has decided to close such a facility.1

By all accounts, including Entergy’s, Vermont Yankee (VY) is a mess. The 38-year-old plant is leaking radioactive tritium, one of its cooling towers collapsed in 2007, plant owners lied—excuse me, misspoke—in testimony before two state panels regarding the condition of the facility, and Entergy has been attempting to elude their decommissioning responsibilities by selling off VY and a few other aging facilities to a new corporate entity of their own devising.

One VT senator, otherwise relatively sympathetic to the nuclear industry, opined to the effect that Entergy could not have done a better job of shooting themselves in the foot had their upper management been infiltrated by anti-nuclear activists.

Entergy vows to fight on, and I am sure they will have powerful backers. Check with us in March 2012 to see if VY will really have to close its doors. Knowing the state of the nation, my heart is with the people of Vermont, but my money is on Entergy.

No one wants to see the lights go out, and nuclear energy is undeniably essential to avoiding that event today. However, it is a suicidal means of generating electricity, and our leaders must not only set a priority on promoting the necessary development of green technologies, but they must be seen to be doing so. In that context, Obama’s recent boosterizing of the nuclear industry was yet another disappointment to his quickly vanishing base.
1 Vermont Senate Votes to Close Nuclear Plant, by Matthew L. Wald, from the New York Times, Feb 24, 2010, accessed Feb 25, 2010.
2 Town Finds Good Neighbor in Nuclear Plant, by Katie Zezima, from the New York Times, Mar 3, 2010, accessed Mar 4, 2010.
tags: Energy | Governance | Electricity

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