President Obama appears to be carrying all thestimulus packageweight on his shoulders. Pro and con arguments are spoken in the language of political position but little has been said about willingness to share the burden. The Republican position has been that the stimulus spends too much and puts a burden on those in the highest income brackets. Why should they pay more than others, it is asked. Isn't this just the old Democratic or even Socialist tactic of wealth redistribution? The Democratic position is that the tax adjustment corrects the cuts made by the previous Republican administrations. In these dangerous times it is fortunate that the president carries the highest approval rating, higher than both Bushes, Clinton, and Carter. And First Lady Michelle Obama carries an exceptionally high rating as well. They will need this as the president plows forth and the stimulus starts to deploy in among other things "shovel ready" projects all over the country.
Ordinary Democrats and Republicans across the country want the stimulus to succeed. The country and most parts of the world are in a very serious wobble. Righting the economies of so many countries will take the concerted effort of all of their citizens. In many of those countries children die because of filthy living conditions. There is no infrastructure. Many of those countries have spent their precious commodities by selling them to rich countries, leaving little for their own citizens.
In the United States we do not see large groups of homeless people setting up substandard housing in the streets. Beggars are not highly visible and gangs of parent-less children do not menace our passage as we go about our daily business. This country is so rich it can afford to maintain a nearly complete patina of the promise: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union... promote the general welfare..."
But we have not reached the bottom of homelessness, child poverty, loss of health care, job losses, a crumbling infrastructure, and loss of full safety protection that is coming. The already strained poverty assistance centers are running out of food before their next shipment is available. Job losses are rising by the week.
Putting the weight of the stimulus package on the president's shoulders can mean two things: extraordinary belief in the ability of the president to succeed, or an unwillingness to help shoulder the responsibility for promoting the general welfare. Blog America is afire with arguments about how bad our recession is and when it will hit bottom. Who is to blame is another hot topic. In the end though, it will be the spirit of the American people that will see us through. We have not been tested like this since the Great Depression. I for one believe it is a test we will pass.
Laura Waterman Wittstock is president and CEO of Wittstock & Associates. The firm provides consultation in new projects, creative, development, assessment/evaluation, and governance. Read more about Laura Waterman Wittstock
We take looking up at the skies for granted. The stars and moon will always be there. Only the headlines of a transit of Venus or the infamous blue moon calls our attention to the reality that the firmament is not fixed and we are a tiny population in a galaxy far away. Most people agree that we should educate ourselves all of our lives. There is no room for closed thinking, especially not for the coming generations. It will comfort many Minnesotans to know that the MN Planetarium Society just passed an important 100,000 mark. That many school children have now had lessons about the cosmos, given by Planetarium teacher Sally Brummel. We have a few small planetariums like the ones in Duluth, Hibbing, or New Ulm, but only one serves the entire state: the Minnesota Planetarium and Space Discovery Center. For many reasons, support from the City of Minneapolis and then Hennepin County has lagged. Now, a new partnership with the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota gives some hope that a new planetarium will be available to the people of the state. Minnesotans should show their support by picking up the phone, sending an email, or writing a letter to the members of the Legacy Division in the House or the Environment and Natural Resources Committee in the Senate.
The shootings that resulted in injury and death in Arizona compel every one of us to take stock - not just to what happened there but to what is happening in our own lives. In a strange way, the violent deaths of others causes many of the living to appreciate life all the more. We can link ourselves easily to the young child mercilessly gunned down but also to the adults, particularly those who died while saving others. This is the heroism of which we hope we all are capable when the time comes.
Where does "pro life" figure in the debate of more insurance which will lower infant death rates compared to what we have now? Infant death rates are one thing, the uncounted numbers are in non-medical fetus loss due to poverty.
A $400 million cash delivery to Iran to repay a decades-old arbitration claim may be unprecedented in recent U.S. history, according to legal experts and diplomatic historians, raising further questions about a payment timed to help free four American prisoners in Iran.