Thursday, January 01, 2009
In With the New
The old year is over. Away with you, 2008. It was a terrible year in most respects, and based on many conversations, most people will not remember it fondly.
After eight years of Bush insanity in the White House, we have a fresh start in 2009, with a new president. Barack Obama is being handed the keys to the Augean Stables. Mucking them out is going to be an enormous task. Obviously he has to start with the economy – but I’m hoping to see the end of the US occupation in Iraq, an end to our current policies on torture, on rendition, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay. We voted for hope and we voted for change. It’s important that how the US is perceived by the rest of the world is changed, but it’s crucial that we change how we see ourselves. We haven’t had much to be proud of in the last 8 years.
A new year is a fine time for the US to evaluate our priorities. If you look at a budget pie chart, the first thing you notice is that we spend more on the military than anything else. Over half of the federal discretionary budget goes to the military. A tiny little sliver goes to education. Clearly killing people is more important to us than educating them. I sure hope we can figure out a way to turn that around. An evaluation of our national priorities is long overdue. Given the economic situation in the country, a good place to start tightening spending would be the Pentagon. The Pentagon can’t account for $2.6 trillion, and can’t pass an audit. It’s time to stop turning a blind eye to that.
Jobs are drying up. The numbers we hear about the unemployed take into consideration only the folks who file unemployment claims. They do not count the folks who were not eligible, or who reached the end of their benefits and are still unemployed. If the real numbers were known, we’d be more panicky, especially when all the prognosticators tell us things are only going to get worse.
At home in NH we’re faced with many challenges. The newly elected state legislature is facing a record number of bills, and the need for serious belt tightening. Our state representatives and senators will be earning their $100 paycheck this year. They’ll also be counting on us to let them know how we feel about upcoming bills.
Our towns will be facing the same kind of challenges. Based on recent news coverage, it seems likely that at least two area towns will have very interesting town meetings. These are stressful times for most of us. It’s my hope that we can find ways to work together and come up with creative solutions. The school of “we’ve always done it that way” may have to be permanently closed.
I realize this doesn’t sound particularly hopeful. We’re in a lot of trouble right now. Even so, I don’t feel the same sense of impending doom that I’ve been living with for the last year. 2008 was pretty terrible for me. I’m grateful to live in an area where common sense often triumphs, where neighbor is a word that still has resonance, and where community still exists. Here’s to 2009.
“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” Bill Vaughan
“For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” T. S.Eliot
This was printed as an editorial in the Conway Daily Sun on January 3, 2009
Posted by susanthe at 10:18 PM