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


DissedBelief said...

Another pertinent, great written article that echoes so many of our thoughts and feelings Susan. How far we've come and how far behind we have fallen and we can thank our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens for this. Those who continue to support Fox, Limbaugh, O'Reilly and the vile hatred they live by. Our brave new President has to face an inbox of issues that were created upon a foundation of manure. A friend of ours recently commented to us that while driving one day a few weeks back, he inadvertently tuned his car radio to a station where the talking head was spewing such vile hatred and screaming like a lunatic he wondered that perhaps he had tuned in to some foreign radio station. It was Rush Limbaugh. I too have heard him, and he reminded me of white Apartheid South Africa. How do these individuals justify their "ideologies" I have to wonder. How does their God justify torture, war and intolerance? Europeans now see us as backward, uneducated, regressive and ironically, now dangerous. Thanks to those we know in our circles who chose these past 8 years, we now stand on the brink of even worse violence, a fast crippling economy and absolutely no global support. Our hope for change in Obama is to turn that around, to re-create what has been destroyed by those we know who vote for hate and death. These bitter, rageful individuals clearly with chips on their shoulders, live the daily lie that they are living under Gods righteous hand. They are living hypocrisy, and God is watching. Obama not only inherits a disaster, he does so under threat of his life from all those very righteous white men who are threatened by anything better than them. With their bibles in one hand and a gun in the other, they rage forth. And isn't it also ironic, that their letters of hate are always the loudest. Ah yes, empty vessels really do make the most noise. To the rest of us who strive for the better, peaceful world, here's to real change. God bless us all!

Buella said...

Great, let's start slashing at the military budget in the middle of 2 wars with the logic that killing is bad, without any consideration of strategic issues in a changing world (the rise of China, a more aggressive Russia). Gee, can't we wait a while before we self-destruct as Democrats?

It would be great to lower the military budget, but doing a knee-jerk cut because we don't like violence is just a tad overly simplistic. Let's make room for a more nuanced view of things here...

susanb said...

Dear Buella,

I invite you to go back and read what I actually wrote about the military budget. What I wrote doesn't match your interpretation. I'd be delighted if you could point out where I suggested we slash the military budget because I don't like violence.

thanks ever so,