Phil Hoskins

Plenty fear, little trust

We have many things to be concerned about, we fear what might happen next, we worry in a generalized, somewhat unfocused way.  From job insecurity which now insists itself into many homes to wave after wave of foreclosures, bankruptcies and credit defaults, to concrns about health, safety and well being, we have a lot on our plates.

We know most of us don’t live in a healthy manner, we don’t eat right, we don’t exercise enough, we are abusers of too many drugs, predominantly prescription, we don’t sleep enough and we overwork ourselves. We consume more than we produce. We are afraid of terrorists, that the climate is going to do us in and the financial sector is barely an inch above water.

Is God big enough?

The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God, the capitalized version; God Almighty, Jehova, Yahwey, Allah, or any variation on the Abrahamic names for the ultimate power. There are divisions about exactly what God is and how God feels about and is inclined in favor or against a long list of activities and actions. These divisions are in urgent need of reconciliaition in order to deal with the era of global interdependency.  Is the God of all these diverse interpretations big enough to deal with it?

The real treason

To the extent that each of us harbors, consents to or encourages self-centeredness, greed, selfishness, or other manifestation of pretending we are alone and can do as we want, we are each a traitor.  Not to the state — that is trivial and mundane. But we are offenders of the common weal, enemies of our mutual survival and individual greatness.

Quit the whining, we need radical action

So many complaints, so much hand wringing, and so many cries of "socialism", "sell out" and "government taking over."  The problem I have with President Obama is not that he is going too far but that he goes not far enough.  But even more than that what we need is a Congress that stands up to the banks, the health insurance industry and the other interests that have bought them off. We need some really radical approaches to our problems, not more of the same.

We need to raise taxes

Yes, I really mean that those of us who have an income above subsistence level need to up the ante.  Most state governments, most notably my state of California, are facing record defecits and as a consequence cutting off assistance to those who need it most.  We do so because despite the myths, there is not nearly the "fat" in government conservatives so often bleat about.  The alternatives are cut aid to the poor and infirm or raise taxes.  The latter is the only moral route.

No, apparently we can’t

Congress has begun to demonstrate that it just doesn’t get it. The wave of hope, some might say desperation, that put Barrack Obama in the White House, is being routinely ignored by the people’s own representatives in Congress and state houses around the country. Fast to spend the people’s money bailing out the very institutions that brought us to a financial crisis, legislators refuse to turn their backs on the big money interests that paid for their holding office and pass legislation to help the people of this country out of their mess.

Majority rule has its limits

Now that Sen. Arlen Specter has prudently jumped off the sinking GOP ship, and with the apparent victory of Al Franken in Minnesota, the Democrats will have a filibuster-proof majority for at least some of their agenda. The filibuster, of course, appears nowhere in our  Constitution, yet it has been both an important safeguard and major impediment to liberty and effective government. What is the proper balance of majority rule and should there ever be a requirement of a “super majority?”
 

A prescription

America needs some drug therapy. There, I said another of those unspeakable truths. I am not talking about more prescription drugs, we take way too many of them already thanks to the endless promotion of them by big pharma and the doctors who see them as an easy way to placate their patients. No, I am speaking of the kind of drugs that might get us away from our addictions to power, money, sex and most of all ambition. Yes, those drugs.

Is Israel off limits?

 It has long been the case that anyone who dares criticize the policies of Israel or those of the United States toward it is immediately branded anti-semetic or worse. We have just seen that Charles Freeman had to withdraw from consideration for a post in the State Department because he was insufficiently rabidly pro-Israel. He is not alone. Members of Congress and President after President know better than to piss off AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby if they want to be elected. It is time to stop this insanity and ask the tough questions.

Too big to fail

It has become crystal clear to all but a few die hard libertarians and cynical politicians that we are all going to sink together unless government stakes the future of our nation on deeper involvement in our economy.  We keep hearing new names for it, but in one way or another our taxes, mostly future taxes, are going to be transferred to the remaining financial institutions. Not at all being a fan of nationalization of anything, I see no way of avoiding these transfers of wealth. But we at the very minimum need to insisting on a number of conditions to the process.