Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

Missing Uncle Ronnie

Great job on this by Jon Stewart:

I hear you on taxes. In Paul’s nirvana- roads, infrastructure, and the “instruments of interstate commerce” that do fall within Congress’s Constitutional purview would be paid with user fees, tolls and perhaps some targeted VAT’s (though admittedly he’s far less enthusiastic about that). He does not believe in the Department of Education and would like to see it de-funded. Poor results, a massive Congressional boondongle and virtually zero Constitutional support for its existence in his mind.

At any rate, what I will say for RP is that these are sincerely-held philosophical POV’s as opposed to actual policy initiatives. As a Constitutionalist- a “President” Paul would never attempt to use the Executive Office to directly repeal the 16th Amendment (Federal Income Tax) or think he had the power to interfere/obstruct Congress’s spending authority. He would undoubtedly submit budget proposals envisioning a dramitically smaller government and drastically reduced tax rates (across the board). That is certainly the “Buyer Beware” element of RP that any independent or liberal needs to take into account when considering a vote for him. On the bright side- the wars and torture would end and the Fed may finally get audited. Also, domestically you would know exactly where he stood- and there would likely be more than enough Democratic/Liberal and Non-Libertarian/non-Tea Party Republican Congressmen to check any “super extreme” initiatives/proposals coming from the White House.

Post-Unemployment Stress Disorder

Consider the real or fictitious call for austerity among DC, Wall Street, and Brookins/Cato/AEI elites one of my favorite radio personalities Tom Ashbrook presented one of the best shows on the subject of structural unemployment and the notion that – just like engaging in war – the rest of us are being asked to sacrifice for the whims and arrogance of  old white men.

I have pasted my response to the show below because while it deserves the attention it gets PTSD has a new cousin in The Great Recession Fallout which I simply describe as Post-Unemployment Stress Disorder. I should know I have it and have it bad on some days better on others………..even though I now have a job!

I would add that I recently ended a 9 month drought after having completed a Ph.D. here at the University of Vermont. It was brutal and the uncertainty (true uncertainty not the BS kind referred to on Wall Street or by big business) has delayed my marriage to my favorite human being and delayed us having children. I still suffer what I call post-unemployment stress disorder (PUSD) which manifests itself in me looking for better/more secure jobs even though I have one. I was right in doing so because I found out yesterday – thanks to my insistence as I have another great job offer – that my current employer who had already changed my contract from 2yrs to an 8mo probationary period that they were not going to guarantee me a contract extension. This was not the rough and tumble world of business but rather academia. I was told that if I hadn’t come to them with this other job offer and an ultimatum they might not have let me know of my status until the days prior to the contract’s expiration in October. This is no way to treat people even if you do have leverage! Employers are in the catbird seat and that is generally a good thing as it yields the best corporations or in this case academic institutions. However, there is a certain degree of decency that is missing from Main St, Wall St., and DC for how you treat your fellow man/woman especially in a jobs environment like the one we find ourselves in. That means giving people proper warning so they can prepare or improve their lot. That means understanding that when you do let someone go they are going to be fending for themselves for – chances are – quite some time and maybe even 2.5 years as one of the guests on Mr. Ashbrook’s show described. The UK prime minister David Cameron made a great point in the aftermath of the London Riots recently that decency is no where to be found in The City, Parliament, and at the country’s numerous Murdoch owned rags. So why when the “common man” sees this should they operate by a different set of rules? Leaders need to lead and not divide, condescend, or obfuscate. Like his opposite number in DC Mr. Cameron talks a big game but I would be willing to bet that the have nots of Tottenham like the have nots of Watts, Gary, Indiana, Detroit, etc. will suffer a more oppressive case of austerity than any of the latter offenders.
I am amazed at how callus people are in the face of having someone’s career in their hands. Such a flippant disregard for basic short- and medium-term needs is really not what this country is about….At least that is what I thought!
I will be fine and my fiance and I will have a wonderful marriage and an even more wonderful child but what I will never forget about this Great Depression is the rapidity with which people backed away from words like loyalty, respect, fairness, and transparency. I for one will always have the scars of the uncertainty and unknowns that soaked into my every fiber during this recession. They say that Depression children saved every nickle etc. Well I think my generation and those that were unemployed for a prolonged time will always have in the back of our minds when the next shoe is going to fall. Especially those of us not looking to get filthy rich but rather just teach or give back to the planet or our fellow man nothing gaudy or selfish but simply good work that doesn’t involve off-shoring or newfangled “financial products”. PUSD is real and I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way. I don’t know when this fear and anxiousness will go away but I hope soon because it really sucks! It is not made any better when we see the haves with such contempt for basic decency and empathy. The ovarian lottery has been cruel to some and unnecessarily generous to others, while others have fought out of the former to reach the latter economic prosperity, but that doesn’t mean we should paint such broad strokes on those that have not fought out of the cruelties of the lower quartile. Most likely it ain’t their fault and piling on while forcing them to eat spinach as the oligopoly eats cake is not what I think the phrase “American Exceptionalism” means! Warren Buffett seems to be coming around to this notion!