Saturday, February 23, 2008

Taboo Subject #2 - Hillary and Barack

It is said that friends should never talk about religion and politics - the reasons are not always clear until the conversation becomes heated when opinions conflict and nobody ever looks at each other the same again. I've already sufficiently offended the masses to the point where this won't make much of a difference anyhow.

I'll start with a few baseline comments: It's likely I'll vote Democratic for the presidency even though I don't entirely like what they stand for. It's the lesser of all the evils in this case, and the Republicans have their heads firmly up their asses. I'd vote Libertarian but these folks are starting to feel more like a cult again than a valid political ideology. I'll give them credit for campaigning well this time though. My biggest complaint about the Democrats is that they think people can act irresponsibly and the rest of us should bring them back to our standard of living. Okay, that out of the way...

Barack and Hillary both offend me with their promises for support for families. According to Hillary Clinton's web site, she intends to:
Lower taxes for middle class families by: extending the middle class tax cuts including child tax credit and marriage penalty relief, offering new tax cuts for healthcare, college and retirement, and expanding the EITC and the child care tax credit.
Wonderful (said dripping with sarcasm). Here's Democratic fiscal policy in a nutshell: Take the biggest consumers of common infrastructure and have them pay less. A free lunch is there for the taking. Folks, let's get serious - your so-called family costs money. Sorry to break the bad news to you, but life is not just a white picket fence, a friggin' barking dog in the backyard, and 2.5 kids. At a time when the environment is suffering, suburbia is growing out of control (no, the alleged housing bust is not affecting that much), and people in general are having problems making ends meet, this is not the time to be indiscriminately pumping out kids. Encouraging that behavior by targeting these consumers with tax cuts is poor fiscal policy. If you want to equitably cut taxes to specific income levels, I am a lot more on-board with that. I'm even more on-board with a flatter tax system. As not to sound like a Hillary-basher (I'm not), here's Barack Obama's equivalent web-bites:
Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Barack Obama will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.
And...
Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees. Barack Obama will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. Barack Obama will expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children's academic activities at school; allowing leave to be taken for purposes of caring for individuals who reside in their home for 6 months or more; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault.
WTF? Barack - you'll start making me feel better about this if you include extending the FMLA to include the ability to cover leave for caring for my cat and house. Seriously folks, when you don't work the employer doesn't get stuff done. When the employer doesn't get stuff done, goods and services don't get made. It's hard to pay workers when the money is not coming in. It's hard on the people who are working to constantly make-up for those who are leaving for these purposes. I understand the need for two-worker households with kids to have some way to be able to participate in their kids' lives, but this just ain't the answer. FMLA is a band-aid at best. If we are going to regulate businesses in this way, perhaps it's time to consider re-evaluating the idea of exempt vs. non-exempt fair labor standard laws. Setting consistent fair labor standards for both professional and so-called "non-professional" employees alike, giving all workers (not just ones with kids) a way to participate in some kind of sabbatical, and for parents to have a way to use that sabbatical time to support their families, is getting closer to reality. Let's face it, you can only burn-out your single and childfree employees for so long before they've been sucked dry, and as one of those,I can tell you I'm almost sucked dry. I don't like when my elected officials decide that I (upper-middle class) should support everyone else's lifestyle choices as though what I have was just given to me.

I concentrate on these points because they mean something to me. I realize that no president can effect these policies alone, and they generally won't at all. I actually believe that about 60% (yes, I pulled that number out of my ass) of whatever these people say are (can't sugar-coat it any) lies. I look at what they say and consider this to be their value system. When political candidates start spouting what they think the public wants to hear, rather than what they need to hear, then I realize that they're either lying to us or they're constantly bouncing checks and still wear a chastity belt. Some may--I don't know. All I do know is that a good part of my life is spent at work, trying to make a difference, and working my ass off. I didn't get to where I am because someone willed me money, or I got a handout from someone. My parents raised me with the concept that if you work hard, be a good and responsible person, and don't take more than you can afford, then you'll prosper and have a good life. Everyone makes mistakes even with the best of intentions. If you are working toward those goals, though, the impact of those mistakes are lessened. I'm always more willing to help someone who is out there trying their best and falling on their face than I am at someone who indiscriminately makes decisions and whines about it.

I encourage everyone to look carefully at the policies and promises that your presidential candidates are supporting. Take a look at the way they want to solve the "mortgage crisis," their environmental policies, energy policies (an investment in corn is a waste of money), "faith" (this has no place in government), and so on. Turn on your bullshit detectors prior to reading. Understand that the president of the United States is not some kind of savior. They're living, breathing human beings with both a willingness to help the country and a personal/political agenda. Do understand that no matter who we elect, they will be faced with some difficult decisions and circumstances. They are the face of this nation to the world as a whole (and we all know what our current Bush-league administration has done for us lately). It's not what these people say on TV, how they bash the opposition ("as the stomach turns"), and whether they inhaled or not. It's whether they can logically and fairly deal with the tough decisions that the rest of us are only willing to deal with emotionally. Imagine if they ran their household (fiscally and socially) like they ran the country. Would they survive? Would the world (in general) be a better place?

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