Monday, November 29, 2004

history speaks, but who is listening?

The United States economy is suffering from an undeniable, massive
loss of jobs, due largely to outsourcing, downsizing, and corporate
mergers. At the same time, the Bush administration has given tax cuts
to citizens with the highest incomes, as well as tax breaks, subsidies,
and other forms of corporate welfare to its supporters in the business
world. All this, while spending enormous amounts of money on military
engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, and on the reconstruction of
infrastructure in both countries. Meanwhile, working class America
is waiting for relief.

Like his father, the current President Bush prefers to direct most of his
attention (and that of the nation) towards the Middle East, and away
from domestic issues. What was bad policy then is even worse now.

History demonstrates that military strength alone can neither negate
nor mitigate the economic weakness of a nation. Our 'leaders' would
do well to remember the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among the
factors that led to its downfall--in addition to its already anemic and
unstable economy--were the vast expenditures of its protracted war
in Afghanistan, and the arms race with the United States.

Perhaps our government hasn't learned anything from the fall of the
Soviet empire, but Osama bin Laden--who participated in the Afghan
resistance against the Soviets--has:

"...we, alongside the Mujahideen, bled Russia for 10 years, until
it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat. spent $500,000 on the event [the 9-11 attacks], while America,
in the incident and its aftermath, lost--according to the lowest estimate--
more than $500 billion. Meaning that every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a
million dollars...besides the loss of a huge number of jobs.

As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical
numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars. And even more
dangerous and bitter for America is that the Mujahideen...forced Bush
to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and
Iraq, which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan..."

--Osama bin Laden, from videotaped speech aired on
Al Jazeera (11-1-04)

Our elected representatives have all had the opportunity to read or listen
to the words of Mr. bin Laden by now. Presumably, most of them are at
least somewhat knowledgeable about the events leading to the demise
of the U.S.S.R. (although the Republicans prefer to claim that President
Ronald Reagan single-handedly defeated the Soviets). This isn't rocket
science--how difficult is it to read the writing on the wall, Uncle Sam?

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is
the most important of all the lessons history has to teach."

--Aldous Huxley, from Collected Essays (1959)

"Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it."
--George Santayana, from The Life of Reason (1905)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

abortion: causes and consequences

It's almost amusing to observe how clueless people
can be sometimes. How many of us take the time to
carefully consider the consequences of our actions?
Of course, even if we do, there are some things that
we just can't foresee. On the other hand, there are
some consequences that should be obvious, but
which are overlooked, especially by certain political
leaders. It's hard to see with blinders on.

Case in point: the abortion issue. George W. Bush
has run for office twice as a 'pro-life' (read: anti-
choice) candidate. One would expect that the rate
of abortions would decrease under his presidency,
but the rate has actually increased. In contrast, the
number of abortions decreased during the Clinton

To understand why the abortion rate has risen, one
must look at the reasons why women get abortions.
The most common reasons stated by these women
are "inability to afford a child" and lack of affordable
health care, according to Glen Harold Stassen--who
is not only pro-life, but who is also a professor of
Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary.
An article on this subject, which was co-authored
by Mr. Stassen with journalist Gary Krane, Phd, *
gives their analysis of available abortion statistics.
This article has appeared in several publications,
including the Christian magazine Sojourners.

It seems that the economic policies of the current
administration--which support large corporations
while shafting the middle class and working poor--
have actually contributed to the rise in abortions.
Such is the consequence of bad economic policy,
questionable ethics, and a lack of compassion.

As objectionable as one might consider abortion,
many women apparently find it more irresponsible
to have a child that they can't care for properly,
than to terminate a pregnancy.

Strident voices will say that women should just
use birth control, or that they should "just say
'no'," but some women get pregnant even when
using birth control; and some of those who get
abortions are married. Are the anti-choice crowd
saying that married women should tell their own
husbands 'no'? It seems that certain segments
of the population enjoy making assumptions and
then dictating to others how they should live,
based on those (often incorrect) assumptions.

The bottom line: Americans need employment--
with living wages--and affordable health care.
Write to your elected officials and tell them that
if they're 'pro-life,' then they must be pro-worker,
as well. If abortion concerns you, then speak up--
let them know that economic causes of abortion
need to be addressed at least as diligently as the
moral ones.

In truth, to the extent that economic factors affect
health and other living conditions of individuals
and families, the economy of our nation most
undeniably is a moral issue.
* You can read the text of their article online at or Minuteman Media

A related article appears at the website.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

the fall of empires

I heard someone on the radio the other day (on one of
the right wing programs) talking about the 'gay marriage'
issue. He said that homosexuality was a major reason
for the fall of the Roman Empire--leading his listeners to
a conspicuous conclusion about the potential fate of
America, perhaps? Ah, the joys of simplistic thinking!

I've read quite a bit about that fall, and while decadence/
moral decline is often listed among the many reasons for
Rome's fall, I've never seen homosexuality specifically
targeted--except by right wing pundits and (Western)
religious conservatives/fundamentalists. I'm neither gay
nor an advocate of 'gay marriage,' but these partisans are
obviously trying to impose their prejudices upon history in
order to support their political and religious views. Nice try.

What is rather compelling is that other factors--such as
trade deficits, inflation, unemployment, political corruption,
inefficiency, authoritarianism, and military spending--have
been mentioned in legitimate, unbiased historical studies
of the fall of the Roman Empire. Are there perhaps some
overlooked lessons that America can learn from history?

You can find relevant articles on the fall of Rome
at and National Geographic.