My generation, in my estimation, lived through the best of times of American history. We also, for the most part, benefited from a high point in education on all levels. From kindergarten through graduate school, our educational system reached its zenith. As baby boomers we had benefits both from having parents who lived through WWII and the Great Depression and living through major progressive changes ourselves. Our parents witnessed and/or experienced the advent of Social Security and FDR's implementation of massive expansion and improvements in our infrastructure, from roads, to bridges and dams. That isn't saying everything was good. The development of the atomic bomb, the bombing of Hiroshima, the Holocaust showcased the worst of humanity.
In the 1950s President Eisenhower oversaw the building of interstate highways, connecting our nation as never before. In the 1960s we saw the first steps toward equality for all humans, recognizing people of color and women as fully human, although that fight still continues today. The passing of the Civil Rights Act and the advent of the Second Wave of feminism helped to provide previously unavailable opportunities to a large segment of our population. President Johnson got Medicare passed, so that the elderly wouldn't have to go without affordable and accessible health care. Add to all this the fact that we had the best music ever - Elvis Presley, Motown, Crosby/Stills/Nash & Young, the Beatles, Carole King, James Taylor, just to name a few of my personal favorites. As time progressed, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, and LGBT persons were coming out of the closet and beginning to be "granted" their rights as humans as well.
What does the future hold that concerns and worries me so much? I'll try to make the list concise:
- CLIMATE CHANGE
- AN EROSION OF RIGHTS, ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN
- A WORLDWIDE FAILING OF ECONOMIES
- INCREASED UNEMPLOYMENT/POVERTY
- INCREASED VIOLENCE, EITHER PERSONALLY OR THROUGH WARS
- EXTINCTION OF MORE AND MORE SPECIES OF ANIMALS AND PLANTS
- WORLD HUNGER
- BIGGER AND MORE FREQUENT NATURAL AND MAN MADE DISASTERS
- INCREASED DESERTIFICATION
- LACK OF SUFFICIENT CLEAN WATER, IN OUR OCEANS, LAKES, RIVERS - EVERYWHERE
- INCREASED RELIGIOUS ZEALOTRY BY ALL RELIGIONS
During a time when we, as Americans, have access to a larger amount of information via the Internet, most of us remain complacent and uninformed of the dangers which are happening, whether in our own backyards or worldwide. It seems to me that only a small percentage of Americans are actually paying attention. Too many are simply struggling to get by, day to day. Others just don't care, continuing to believe that things will get better and there isn't anything to worry about. And still others resort to paranoia about fantasy bogey-men (like the UN Agenda 21).
A couple of articles that I read this morning prompted me to put up this post. First is this from Alternet - Alaska Militia Leader sentenced to prison I highly recommend checking out the website for the Southern Poverty Law Center to find out more about militias and hate groups, and their astronomical rise in the past four years - Hate and Extremism
And one final link has to do with President Obama's nomination of Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary. Although I had wished he would appoint Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC, I never expected that to happen. Soon to be former Treasury Secretary had helped get her booted from the early White House team. I would have been just as happy had either Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz or David Cay Johnston been the nominee. I never expected that to happen either. I hadn't been concerned about Lew, despite his wacky & arrogant signature after hearing Obama's glowing introduction to the nomination. Additionally, NPR made a point to say that Lew had photos of the FDR programs gracing his office walls, implying that Lew was supportive of these programs. This interview on Alternet changed my mind and put a knot in my stomach. Below is a quote about Jack Lew from Professor William Black:
Again, I had held out hope that Obama would get Congress to re-instate Glass-Steagall. That ain't gonna happen with Jack Lew at the helm of Treasury.So—and he has the history, in one sense, correct. He says the problem arose before deregulation. That’s true that derivatives were already a problem before deregulation. And so, Brooksley Born proposes to deal with the problem by having a regulation to deal with credit default swaps. And then the Clinton administration, in league with Greenspan, in league with Phil Gramm, and with one of the important architects of all of this being Jack Lew, squashes Brooksley Born to destroy the proposed regulation and to pass something, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act—talk about a dishonest phrase—that not only said, "You, Brooksley Born, cannot go forward with this particular regulation," the statute actually said, "We hereby withdraw all regulatory powers to protect the nation, period. From the federal government, from the state and local governments, we exempt you from the gambling laws. We exempt you from the boiler room laws to prevent fraudulent operations." It’s one of the most extraordinary abusive things in the world, heavily involved with AIG’s ability to produce not just the disaster atAIG, but the disaster of credit—of the CDOs that blew up a larger portion of the world. And those CDOs would not have been possible without these credit default swaps.
For more about Glass-Steagall, check out these links:
Interestingly, Sandy Weil, formerly of Citigroup and advocate for the repeal of this law, has reversed his position and sees the error of his ways now that it's too late: Sandy Weil + Glass-Steagall