Fund-raising, FEMA and fossil fuels

October 31, 2012

As can be expected in this election year, even a devastating super storm that wrecked havoc all along the East Coast has been politicized. Mitt Romney has been taken to task by the Democrats for suggesting that if he becomes president FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the disaster arm of the government, will be on the chopping block.

Instead Romney would place that kind of authority in the hands of the states, even though Republican Governor Chris Christie praised FEMA and the President for the cooperation and leadership shown his state in the aftermath of Sandy. For Romney, government agencies like FEMA are really not the answer to disaster. Instead he has taken the private sector approach asking for contributions and in kind donations for those in need.

As can be expected, Barack Obama is a government kind of guy who believes strongly in a national disaster relief agency and sees that the only way to deal with such calamities is by a centralized bureaucracy that thinks and acts nationally. I presume Obama is not opposed to the private sector or people helping people, since that is the American way, but government should not sit on the sidelines when a national disaster strikes, and Sandy was a national disaster that will affect the entire national economy. Needless to say, Obama’s critics are quick to point out that FEMA is just another example of big, bloated government.

As Governor Christie angrily stated in a news conference, this disaster is not about politics, but it does point out differences between Romney and Obama – public vs. private, federal government vs. state government,  government helping people vs. people helping people. There really shouldn’t be these opposites when it comes to disaster relief, but for those looking for a political philosophy to follow as the election nears, Sandy does provide one way of self-definition.  Personally, I can’t fathom how a $ 50 billion rebuilding effort can be solved by fund-raising. New York needs a huge injection of national money to rebuild its infrastructure and protect it’s coastline from super storms. I don’t think that the $ 50 billion will come from mom and pop contributions or even checks written by Fortune Five Hundred companies.

One last point. Sandy could be the storm of the century never to come again to the East
Coast, or it could be the harbinger of what scientists have been warning for years – global warming and climate change will spawn super storms that could destroy major coastal cities. This is a wake up call to all the deniers out there who for some weird reason refuse to accept the expert analysis of climate scientists and hang on to the musings of a tiny fraction of climatologists who dismiss the vast majority as having some sort of personal/financial agenda.  As for me, I vote for the scientists out there who warned us years ago about super storms and coastal devastation.

As for all those impacted Sandy, good luck in rebuilding. Tomorrow will be a better day.


I Missed Mitt By a Day

August 1, 2012

Off to Poland today, the Motherland, that is if you have a name like Kryzanek,which used to be spelled Krzyzaniak until my grandfather thought a simpler spelling would help the family assimilate into American society.

While in the air I guess I will be waving though the window at Mitt Romney, who is wrapping up what can only be described charitably as a disappointing foreign excursion. Mitt not only ticked off the Brits, infuriated the Palestinians, embraced government sponsored health care in Israel and then ended his trip praising incorrectly the Polish private sector economy.

The trouble with Mitt’s praise of the so-called private sector Polish economy is that it is heavily supported by big, big government- national health care, fully supported higher education, massive public works projects and even a $ 300 grant to women who have a child ( more to poor mothers).

Sure there is private enterprise in post-communist Poland, and certainly Poland has one of the more vibrant economies in Europe ( propped up with subsidies from the European Union), but it is a stretch to call Poland’s success the result of unfettered capitalism; if anything Poland is an example of public-private-trade bloc economic development.

I have a feeling that Mitt is glad to be home in the USA where he doesn’t have to be exposed to how well some of our competitors and allies are doing by viewing government as a valuable tool in moving their countries toward economic prosperity and social fairness. Mitt can be comforted by the conservative base, which chooses to ignore how the rest of the world works.

The Seventh Commandment

January 26, 2012

Watching the evangelical movement at work in the electoral arena is, I must admit, a bit confusing. These are people of deep faith and strong convictions; they are solid members of the community and law-abiding citizens with strong family values. Yet when it comes to electoral politics their behavior defies logic and raises the specter of unbridled hypocrisy.

First off many of the evangelicals have a big problem with Mormonism and therefore with Mitt Romney. Some evangelical pastors describe Mormonism as a cult and see Mitt, a member of this so-called cult,  as a dangerous threat to the Presidency and the country. This position is of course ridiculous as Mormons are people of great faith in God and live their lives in the Christian tradition.

But because Mormonism is outside the evangelical mainstream, Mitt has become persona non grata even though he has been married to one woman, gives more than 10% of his wealth to the church and has raised a fine family. This is the logic problem.

Then there is Newt Gingrich who has become the darling of the evangelical right. Of course Newt is a serial adulterer who has broken the 7th commandment so many times that it is difficult to count. Newt is now a Catholic, not an evangelical, but he nonetheless states that he has found redemption for his past sins.

Yet despite his confidence that he is on the right track to heaven, the record clearly shows that he is ethically challenged, a questionable family man, a spinner of the truth, and a nasty politician. And despite all this the evangelicals can’t say enough about Newt and how he would save the country from that evil Obama.

This is where the hypocrisy comes in. When a candidate is supported by a group of religious people despite abundant evidence that the person has lived his life in a way totally against the values of these religious people, then we are talking hypocrisy.

If the evangelical movement ignores its core values when it comes to Newt Gingrich, then it seems that they should engage in a long session of soul searching and perhaps look up the definition of hypocrisy.

Romney-Cain or Cain-Romney

October 12, 2011

Herman Cain is a rising star in the Republican Party sweepstakes for the presidential nomination, while Willard Romney-aka Mitt Romney has been down this road before. Cain, the millionaire former CEO of Godfather Pizza and executive at Pillsbury and Burger King, has caught the attention of the Republican base, especially with his simple tax message of 9-9-9. What Cain is proposing is a complete scrapping of the existing tax code to be replaced by a 9% flat tax on income, a 9% corporate tax and a 9% national sales tax.  No deductions, no loopholes, no Social Security tax, no estate tax, just 9-9-9.

Because Cain is an articulate, energetic and persuasive campaigner, he has quickly risen to the top of the hill of Republican candidates and in some polls has moved beyond Mitt Romney, the so-called establishment candidate. While Cain is surging, Romney appears to have hit a wall of around 20% support in large part because of his mandated health care program in Massachusetts, where he was governor, plus continued questions about his Mormon faith.

Cain’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that he brilliantly recognizes that the American voter doesn’t want long-winded economic proposals ala Romney for getting the country back on track or empty promises about job creation. Rather Cain’s 9-9-9 proposal sounds like one of those brand new solutions that makes sense and stays in the mind of the electorate like a favorite lyric form a favorite song. Never mind that most independent economists have already shown that middle class Americans would pay more in taxes under 9-9-9 than they are paying now under our broken tax system.

Added to the pitfalls of 9-9-9 is Cain’s credentials. Cain comes to the Republican nomination table with little political experience, an accountant for his economic adviser and nothing to show for in terms of national security or foreign policy prowess or even a modest background in domestic issues. He can talk a good game, but that may not be enough to win the golden ring.  

So the talk around Republican circles is the dream team of Romney-Cain, an establishment businessman for these tough times and an African-American businessman with new ideas and a simple message. The way the GOP pundits see it Cain could pull black votes away from Barack Obama and hold the Tea Party base, while Mitt goes after the independents and the moderate Republicans. This could indeed be a winning combination. The only problem is that Cain is feeling his oats and is not in the mood to play second fiddle to Mitt. As for Mitt, he hopes that Cain is a short term annoyance, but if not, Cain-Romney just might be the ticket.