June 7, 2009

Just a few things:

— “Ideally, politicians who want to save the planet would be honest with voters about how much this will cost. But America’s leaders do not seem to think Americans are ready for straight talk about energy.” (Economist, May 23, 2009 issue)

Ah how well you know our politicians. And we Americans don’t seem to demand the truth either. Come on people… Good energy policy, good healthcare policy, good education…All these things cost money. And yes, I’m prepared to pay more in taxes to save the planet, your health and mine, and future generations.

— “[Gay marriage] is a civil rights moment…and Obama has not yet risen to it,” says Evan Wolfson, civil rights lawyer and executive director of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

Sure, President Obama has lots on his plate. And he’s balancing lots of stuff from Wall Street to Main Street and everything in between: healthcare and education and Israel and Palestine and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq and and and… Actually, it’s pretty stunning – with all the stuff he’s addressing – that he isn’t supporting (leading!) gay equality.

Frank Rich speaks eloquently about this in his 05-24-09 NYT op-ed piece “La Cage aux Democrats.” You know, Dems who just aren’t doing enough, damn it! Frank Rich reminds us of how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed such dawdling back in 1963: “For years now now I have heard the word, ‘Wait.’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.'”

Rich goes on to say: “The gay civil rights movement has fewer obstacles in its path than did Dr. King’s Herculean mission to overthrow the singular legacy of slavery. That makes it all the more shameful that it has fewer courageous allies in Washington than King did…it ill becomes Obama, of all presidents, to remain mute in the White House.”

Yes, Mr. Obama, it ill becomes you. Where is your voice?

— Can you imagine an economy that puts people first? That’s what William Greider asks in his Nation article “The Future of the American Dream” (May 25, 2009) “At the earlier periods of our history, the sacrifices demanded by the engine of American capitalism were widely tolerated because the nation was young and undeveloped. The engine promised to generate higher levels of abundance, and it did. But what is the justification now, when the nation is already quite rich and the engine keeps demanding larger chunks of our lives?”

Mr. Greider suggests that Americans need a redefinition of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We’re such a wealthy country that scarcity and deprivation (like no health care for kids!), is unacceptable. How can we live wisely and well, asked John Maynard Keynes? What could our lives look like? What is life, liberty and happiness? In sum, how about an economy that puts people first? And that’s not just the rich people.

Isn’t it time that we Americans demanded an economy that puts all of us first? Yes, all of us? I’m so tired of the old discussions. I’m so tired of the destruction of labor unions and the glorification of corporations. I’m so tired of thinking that some will always be poor so let’s ignore them. I’m so tired of people having to work too many jobs because minimum wage is too minimum and living wage is laughed at.

Filed under: Social Commentary

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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