Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hello, everyone.  The last couple of days have been devoted to errands with mixed results.  Successful: library run to return books and get new ones; trip to my local quilt shop to get a new supply of batting; grocery shopping; paying rent; getting the first of the soil to fill the containers and the potting soil to start the seeds (which should be arriving sometime SOON.)  Not so successful:  a trip up to JoAnn's in Portage to get a bit of fabric for a project Mom has been thinking about for a while.

An added bonus to the trip to the quilt shop was that I didn't have to make a trip to Michaels because I found the embroider thread I needed.  I do so prefer to patronize the local shops.  By my self I can't keep any of them in business but I can do what I can.

JoAnns was a BIG disappointment.  In the end we left without buying anything.  They used to carry bolts of prequilted fabric.  That had been reduced to, perhaps, a dozen bolts.  None of them were very interesting.  Mom finally settled on one pattern.  It took a while because most were rather blah.  She thought it was a good deal since the original price was $8.99 but the sign said 30% off.  That would have brought the price down to a reasonable level.  But, after the clerk cut the yard Mom needed, we discovered that that particular bolt was not on sale and had been put in the wrong place.  Since the fabric was not that great and the pattern so-so, we left without it.  Most of the fabric was a cheap quality at a dear price.  It might as well have been Wal-Mart.

I did watch the President's address and the Republican response and have a few observations.  First,  if Jindal is the future of the Republican Party, they are in serious trouble.  I thought it amazing that he would cite Katrina as though the response was a high point for the party of the, then, sitting president.  That humorous little story about the local sheriff yelling at bureaucrats who were stopping men with boats from going to rescue people off the roofs until they presented proof of licenses and insurance completely ignored who those bureaucrats worked for.  If they were state, why bring them up as an indictment against the Federal government.  If they were Federal,  who was running the Federal government then?  He tried hard to, as an analyst earlier yesterday, recast the Republicans as the party of fiscal responsibility.  Unfortunately, that is like the Mayfair Madame claiming her most productive whore is a virgin.

Second, there isn't much that can be said about the President's speech.  It was a good cheerleading effort that was long on badly needed hope and enthusiasm but short on specifics.  Perhaps that should have been expected since any specific proposals must pass the legislature.  I saw a couple of hopeful signs though.  One was the President's stated determination to be honest about the money our wars are costing us.  I was amazed, again, at the Republican applause for this point since many of them voted for war funding which their President kept off the books.  A second was President Obama's equal determination to bring back Federal oversight and to formulate a new set of regulations.  He specifically referred to the financial industry but I hope he also goes into environmental regulation and food safety as well.

I will play the heretic on a last point.  The emphasis the President places on education is all well and good.  However, I hear an unspoken assumption that formal education is always good and more is better.  I ask: 'education for what?'  We don't need a college degree to punch a cash register, flip a burger, or drive a delivery truck.  Also, I haven't seen any real plan to change the way we fund education.  Anyone wanting to get a college education today has only a few options for funding it.  They may be lucky and get full ride scholarships, which are few and far between.  They may have family willing and able to fund their education.  The rest are forced into a patchwork quilt of work study (if they can get it), part time work, and student loans.  If anyone tries to do without the loans they are forced into a part time schedule which will stretch their time getting through their program to 8 to 10 years.  If they take the loans they will start their careers with a load of debt, often a heavy load.  I have several friends who are still paying off loans from 15 and 20 years ago.  One had to declare bankruptcy due, in part, to the burden of student loans.  Over the past several years I have seen several analysts, bloggers and others describe this as a form of debt slavery.  Surely there is a better way to do this, if education is REALLY that important.


Elaine said...

I so agree with everything you said regarding Jindal's response! The entire analogy he was trying to use about Katrina had most of us scratching our head saying 'wtf'? Mistake on his part for bringing that up, that hurt the GOP did not help it.

donna said...

I agree with you on education. Much like health care, our education system is broken, too. I hope Obama will begin to realize this and work to help change it.

A lot of this though is people not wanting to pay taxes for education of "other people's children", which always ticks me off no end. It took us almost eight years to get a bond issue passed to improve schools in our district -- and we're one of the wealthiest and best districts in California. It really saddens me that people are so brainwashed that they can't see the benefits of having "other" educated people around them.

The heart issue is the selfishness that has been instilled and encouraged by the Republican party, making government the "bad guy". If people in this country truly think they make it "on their own", they are sadly misguided. Society is more than just a collection of individuals, and we do all have to work together on much of it. I hope that's where Obama leads us, to regaining that realization.