People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

John Edwards: “People Get Ready!”

Posted by schroeder915 on December 27, 2006

The wording of the announcement is uncanny. From the John Edwards One America website, blogger philgoblue quoted John Edwards in spirit, if not verbatim: “People Get Ready!”

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By announcing his candidacy for President in the 2008 election from the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, John Edwards is sending a powerful message to the rest of the nation, and the world, that New Orleans will no longer be neglected; that the rebuilding of New Orleans is a symbol of the kind of nation the United States of America should be, where the least among us is treated with dignity, where resources aren’t squandered on a rich minority, but invested in the infinite potential of the multitudes, where hope in a brighter future replaces fear exploited for partisan or personal gain, where one of the greatest cities on Earth is recognized for its cultural and economic contribution to the world.

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Thank God we finally have an intelligent, eloquent, respected spokesperson of national stature to keep New Orleans in the spotlight.

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Charles Dharapak / AP

I’ve said it many times before: As New Orleans goes, so goes the rest of the nation.

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19 Responses to “John Edwards: “People Get Ready!””

  1. F P said

    Nice,

    This also reminds me of this this essay by Bill Moyers that I am sure you will like:

    “Nobel Laureate economist Robert Solow’s analysis sums it up well: What it’s all about, he simply said, is “the redistribution of wealth in favor of the wealthy and of power in favor of the powerful.'”

    And it reads”Ronald Reagan once described a particular man he knew who was good steward of resources in the biblical sense. “This is a man,” Reagan said, “who in his own business, before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan, before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn’t work. He provided nursing care for the children of mothers who worked in the stores.”

    That man was Barry Goldwater, a businessman before he entered politics. It’s incredible how far we have deviated from even the most conservative understanding of social responsibility. For a generation now Goldwater’s children have done everything they could to destroy the social compact between workers and employers, and to discredit, defame, and even destroy anyone who said their course was wrong. Principled conservatism was turned into an ideological caricature whose cardinal tenet was of taxation as a form of theft, or, as the libertarian icon Robert Nozick called it, “force labor.” What has happened to us that such anti-democratic ideas could become a governing theory?…”

    Check it out, there is plenty more there.

  2. That, my friend, is a powerful statement. What would the world be like without the truthsayers like Moyers?

  3. I volunteered for Edward’s campaign weeks ago.To my way of seeing things, he is concerned and he wants to change the Cultural dialogue. I pray that he will support our rebuilding.

    Goldwater also figures heavily in my political references… he actually walked the talk. (My dad liked him, even though he voted for LBJ, and Dad was a Labor leader.)

  4. I think it is time that a lot of people here wake up and start loving New Orleans more than they hate Black people.

  5. Schroeder said

    Here, Frank, or the rest of the United States? Both are needed, of course, but given the white response in Jefferson Parish to help Dollar Bill get re-elected after Harry Lee attacked Karen Carter, I’d say there are a lot of people in Jefferson Parish who hate black people more than they love New Orleans.

  6. Sophmom said

    FP’s comment is interesting. I would add to “cardinal tenet was of taxation as a form of theft” a secondary focus on emphasizing appearance over substance, making what something is called far more important than what it actually is.

    I decided quite a while ago that I will blog for Edwards, and I have signed up to do so, so I get email from “him”, which is kind of fun. If I didn’t have kids to put through college, I would drop everything and go volunteer for his campaign.

    Shroeder, are you really shutting down the other blog? I am so totally devoted to your links there that I haven’t changed my link to you. I was kind of liking the process of clicking through the old PGR to get to the new one. *sigh*

  7. Lenny Zimmermann said

    Oh, not all libertarians have given up on the Goldwater legacy, as that Moyers quote seems to imply. One of the leading figures of Libertarian thought, Frederick Hayek wrote (http://freedomdemocrats.org/node/1099): “There is no reason why in a society which has reached the general level of wealth which ours has attained the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom…there can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody…Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of the assistance – where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong….To the same category belongs also the increase of security through the state’s rendering assistance to the victims of such “acts of God” as earthquakes and floods. Whenever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself or make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken….There is, finally, the supremely important problem of combating general fluctuations of economic activity and the recurrent waves of large-scale unemployment which accompany them…”

    Then again while there are plenty of libertarians who might consider themselves “conservatives” (at least in the Goldwater sense) I tend to think of most of as anything but. Libertarians tend to seek, in the final equation, fairly radical change from the status quo and, in that sense, are in no way conservative, but certainly extremely liberal, particularly in the classical sense. Modern liberalism seems to have forgotten a lot of that philosophy, though, but except for tiny specks of sanity, like Goldwater, modern conservatism never found it to begin with, IMHO.

  8. Austin said

    I suspected you might comment about him 🙂

    I confess, though, I was hoping that Feingold would have run for president. Edwards is a good second though!

    I’m very excited that we will not have to deal with just Hillary and Giuliani, I hope we can get him to the whitehouse in 2008.

  9. Sophmom, “taxation as a form of theft” may indeed be a correct characterization when you don’t get the services you desire after your money is taken. I don’t like, for example, the fact that some 50 percent of my taxes is spent on the military. Far more productive and better for our society it would be to have universal health care, and better schools, and investment in skills training so our workers can adjust to and compete in a more rapidly changing world economy, and energy alternatives, and efficient mass transit, and finding a solution for global warming, and coastal restoration, and Cat 5 levees.

    No, I don’t like shutting down Blogger, and to be honest, I which I could stay there. I hope, eventually, to reassemble all of the links in the new WordPress environment. If that fails, I’ll fall back to Blogger. It’s an investment of time, but I feel that WordPress is going to give me the flexibility to move the entire blog to my own host one day. For now, I just want the reliability that WordPress offers.

    That’s an interesting Elysian Fields painted by Herr Hayek, Lenny, but I’d suggest that its idyllic portrayal of the virtuous character of humanity is as false as the Marxist ideal of a society devoid of envy. How could Hayek’s Libertarian dreamworld be attained without coercion by some central authority to punish freeloaders? And isn’t central authority anathema to the Libertarian vision? I’m just asking.

    Ultimately, I think most of us agree with Hayek’s vision, as much as we do Marx’s, and Goldwater’s, and Jefferson’s — with all of the attending footnotes. The real question is, what to do about all the bad actors? How do we induce positive social behavior either by using interpersonal positive feedback responses and shame, or public rewards and punishment enforced by civil and criminal code? The former is less uniform and certain, the latter is more expensive and requires more centralized authority (and may actually cause a deterioration of traditional community). Those are the issues that a democracy is supposed to resolve. I think we’re resolving them. I’m not happy with the results so far (especially the backtracking over the last 6 years — or 26), nevertheless, I think the voters have made their desire known that a change needs to occur. If only the voters had longer memories …

    It’s the relative costs of organization which make it far more difficult for democratic institutions to overcome resistence by more powerful, monied autocratic institutions. That’s the real fight we need to wage.

    Watch us. That battle is being fought in New Orleans. The rest of the nation needs to grasp the idea that the front in the war for the character of America is right here in New Orleans, where neighborhood activism has spawned a revolution. Make no mistake: This is a war. It certainly feels like it. And since it’s a war we’re fighting, we can’t do it alone. We need allies who understand that as New Orleans goes, so goes the rest of the nation. We need to win this war. Failure is not an option.

    Yeah, I’d prefer Feingold myself, Austin. I still think he can add to the debate, and put some issues on the table, so I hope he gets into the race. Honestly, I still think Edwards has a lot to prove, and he absolutely needs to get rid of that momma’s boy grin if he wants people to take him seriously.

  10. Lenny Zimmermann said

    You’ve mentioned something like “And isn’t central authority anathema to the Libertarian vision?” before. The funny thing to me is that you seem to be describing Anarchy, which is not Libertarianism. While there are more than a few anarchists in the Libertarian Party who often push an anarchist agenda through libertarianism (because one could view libertarianism as a step in the direction of anarchy), I would very much recommends that folks not confuse the two. Libertarianism, or classical liberalism for that matter, expressly accepts that there are bad people out there, or at least bad motivations. As such libertarianism definitively accepts a role for government, especially in terms of police, judiciary and the military and many libertarians would even include some levels of infrastructure such as roads or levees, particularly where private industry has not shown an inclination or an ability to address an obvious public need.

    There are plenty of arguments amongst libertarians at just how much government is needed to achieve that basic ability to protect the rights of the individual, but all agree that it is less than current behemoth we are carrying the load of. I’d also remind that when libertarians talk about the “free market” many mistakenly think of some anarchic form of capitalism where corporations are unfettered and allow to do any dastardly thing they like, and that’s simply not the case. The free market economics of Adam Smith, for example, quite definitively require that regulation is needed, presumably in moderation, to ensure a level playing field, something that government recognition of the corporation as a separate entity with rights, but no real responsibilities, practically precludes.

    Those are the basic concepts that have allowed the United States to propel human civilization so far in a mere 200 years of human history. (Although some folks could argue whether or not that is a good thing.) The problem that most libertarians have with things like “universal healthcare” tends to revolve far more around how well government can provide that service as opposed to hospitals and charities handling such needs. While I think the concept of ensuring healthcare for all is very noble, having the government administer such programs has not propelled medical advances on countries where they have such nearly as far, nor as fast, as American healthcare has.

    And that is the crux, for me. While some might consider those who are against government provided healthcare as being callous bastards who don’t care about anyone, quite often the exact opposite is the case. It is often those people who most believe that government would only be able to provide healthcare poorly (or at least nowhere near as well as it is now… even in its current over-regulated state) who also give the most to charities and whose own healthcare bills and donations to hospitals help to pay for those indigents who do arrive at hospitals and receive healthcare without being able to pay.

    We all know the horror stories, but seldom hear about the successes or how even the poor of this country, despite not having nearly as many government provided services, are still incredibly better off than those in so many other places in the world. In no way does that EVER mean that we shouldn’t do everything we can, as individuals, to help out our fellow man in our short time in this planet, it’s just a question of how well can the government do such things? It seems to me that there are just so many other, better ways to do it.

    And, to me, the current administration is proof positive of why government is so poor at doing these things. We may all have the best of intentions and you may believe that some particular politician, maybe even MOST politicians, have the good of the country at heart and maybe their policies really are just resulting in unintended consequences. But, when all is said and done, the more power we give to our government, the more power we give to the potential monsters who might use such positions to turn America from a country with a diamond-shaped social structure (think of small numbers of rich at the top, a huge middle-class in the middle and a relatively small number of poor, and an arrow always point up to show the transitory nature of being able to improve one’s lot in life) to the pyramid-shaped social structure we have had for 99% of human history (small numbers of rich at the top, gradually increasing to the massive levels of poor and down-trodden at the bottom with far less ability for any kind of upward mobility.) To me the country is slumping more towards that pyramid-shape as we speak because kleptocrats like those of the current administration, use the governmental power we keep giving them to simply further consolidate their own power and influence.

    So far the best way society has found to level the playing field has been through vigorous insistence on governmental transparency and by pushing the reins of power in a democratic republic as far down to the people as we can. By consolidating that power into an ever-stronger centralized government it seems, to me, that we are only giving the potential kleptocrats out there more rope with which to hang us. And that is why I fear the “progressivism” of folks like Edwards. (Feingold, on the other hand, has generally shown himself to be more classically liberal on many issues. I might even consider voting for him if he ran.)

  11. f P said

    Help me understand where you are coming from. Give me an example of where the government has over regulated something and one example of what you believe to be the under regulation of something. And does it at relate to the RIAA setting morality through lobbyists and by suing regular Americans? Should that Industry be allowed to sue so many people?
    It seems the bigger Industry gets and the Bigger the Uinions get that we need some force to counteract either getting too much power. I pro union and believe they are the best anti-poverty force this country has ever had. But I have seen the plumbers union hold up the development of a huge skyscrapper in Chicago because they were designed with green no-flush toilets that required half the plumbing and saved tons of water. The plumbers union was against progress here.

  12. f P said

    I can think of a recent under-regulation that is hurting poeple. Ten or twenty years ago you could not get a mortgage without a sizeable down payment and houses were appraised more in line with their true value. Now days houses almost allways get appraised for what-ever the selling price is and you can a no money down loan with a ARM that goes out to 50 or 60 years. Banks or course sell their loans back to the government, to fanie may or something and isolate themselves from most of the risk. This leaves lots of people with new homes, large mortgages and a lot of new money apparently driving the economy. Now middle america owes it soul to the company store.

  13. Schroeder said

    Justice. Fundamentally, that’s what we’re talking about here, Lenny. What is the most efficient and democratic way to dispense justice, whether you’re talking about treating people with dignity, or providing basic health care as a human right not a privilege, or curbing corporate greed and wealth concentration, or protecting communities from hurricanes. Once again, I hardly disagree with a single word you wrote. We’re basically on the same page. I was just baiting you for a response. And you gave a marvelously constructed rebuttal. I know that libertarians aren’t anarchists. Hayek himself advocated for central authority. I just don’t like labels — and truthfully, people like the Grover Norquist — with his starve the government ideology which is really a pass the money up ideology — have made libertarian a bad word in my book. “Radical change?” Is that what we want? To open the door to any government to whimsically destroy the context of history from which all modern law is derived? To open the door to reverse the hard-earned victories of the past, many built upon the graves of social justice advocates? Who will this new government represent if it is allowed to make radical changes? In the end, libertarians, anarchists, Republicans, or Democrats — it’s all the same damn result if democratic institutions don’t function the way they’re supposed to. The only point I would make is that there’s always a footnote to any ideology. Painting the extreme perspective on any issue isn’t helpful to the core goal of achieving justice. What about universal health care? Are countries that have a “single-payer” health care system worse off without the advances of toenail fungus cures instead of cancer cures? The point I’m making is that most socially-beneficial scientific advances aren’t necessarily driven by the private sector profit motive. Take away government-sponsored research at universities, and guess what? The private sector probably wouldn’t be able to turn a profit. It isn’t an all or nothing proposition to argue against universal health care. Basic health care should be treated as a human right, just as much as basic education is a right — and those rights that achieve a more just society aren’t just good for society, they increase productivity, and make our economy more competitive. Just this morning, I had to clarify for a colleague who traded out a BMW for a Prius that “conservation” essentially *is* a “conservative” value. Think about it. The very words conservation and conservative come from the same root — that’s obvious — yet the right-wing has so manipulated the consciousness of people that now, in a truly Orwellian manner, the conservation of energy and the environment isn’t “politically correct” in the world of “conservative” values. We all need to work on being more clear about what we mean when we use these words, and think about what they really mean when we hear them.

  14. f P said

    yes, I don’t understand why local family doctors can not afford to practice their trade? Why is their insurance so high? Why do many of them quit or do other jobs because of it? Yet the drug industry has somehow isolated itself from these risks. Many doctors can’t afford to be doctors. How did justice allow the nice, good guys in this industry to receive so little compensation and carry so much risk? Can’t we balance this out more equitably?

  15. I agree completely. We play right into the right wing’s plans to demonize our form of government with our unrelenting cynicism.

    Norquist’s “drown it in the bathtub” philosophy says everything we need to know about Republican ideology.

    Their ineptitude at governing fortifies their own rhetoric about “bad government” only for those not paying attention to the hypocrisy.

    The fact that a majority of America has blithely bought into this self-fulfilling Republican prophecy says more about the effects of propaganda than the efficacy of our Democratic Republic and founding principles.

    Most of the progress we’ve made in the twentieth century as a civilization was accomplished with a progressive agenda, over the kicking, screaming objections of Tory/Republicans.

    We have a lot of re-educating to do before 08′, both about recent history and our Founders.

    Thanks for the role you play in that worthy exercise.

  16. Lenny Zimmermann said

    I realize that in many ways we really don’t disagree. Healthcare is, certainly, an extremely complex case in point, though. Government regulation is so tightly bound in the healthcare industry that I’d have to say it is nowhere near as efficient as it could be and, as such, there is not properly regulated market within which we could see a greater emphasis on things like cancer cures. (BTW, I’m all for research grants and if I had any possible way to designate how I felt my tax dollars should be spent such grants would be near the top of my list.)

    To address the “radical” change notion, though, I’m seeing a strong push in the Libertarian Party these days for a pragmatic, incrementalist, modernist approach to the political process. Folks pretty interested in saying that we believe government needs to be scaled back and we’d like to begin moving in that direction with some thoughtful, incremental policy changes to get there. For example by scaling back and beginning to eliminate corporate welfare. (F P your regulation examples are RIPE in what we commonly refer to as corporate welfare these days. Especially in things like agricultural subsidies that end up forcing smaller producers into either joining the corporate collectives or being forced out of business by them. If you really want some lists of such things I can provide references. For under-regulation look in the same kinds of places, where corporations have no legislation in place to prevent some particular monopoly from dominating the market. I can give examples of that if you really are interested.) Another common theme for scaling back government for libertarians is tax cuts, and many of us would push hardest for making sure those cuts start with the poor first, enacting such cuts from the bottom up.

    For me libertarians are very heavily acknowledging that our current democratic institutions are failing us and they push hardest for those areas where I think we need it the most, governmental transparency. The greater levels of openness in government we have the better we can be fully aware of where our democracy is failing us. Heck I’m even for the creation of a NEW federal government agency, if that agency is a separate Inspector General (currently the IGs are under the agencies they are inspecting and as you can see, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061227/ap_on_go_co/watchdogs_under_fire, that is a system too easily corrupted). You can think Dr. David Brin (http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/) for the idea, though, but it does illustrate what I mean by something many libertarians would consider a legitimate function for our government to perform.

    When you say “The point I’m making is that most socially-beneficial scientific advances aren’t necessarily driven by the private sector profit motive. ” I would certainly agree, and I would say that is something of a tenant of general libertarian thought as well. A recognition that there is both good, mostly, and bad, occasionally, in people. The question becomes what process best serves to alleviate the bad effects. In this sense I think the greatest achievement of our grand experiment is a general acceptance of the scientific process which Dr. Brin, again, nicely sums up as CITOKATE, Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote To Error. And it is only through constantly criticizing (and only with transparency and knowledge can we effectively criticize something like our governmental institutions) that we can come as close as we possibly might to finding things that really “work”, mostly by minimizing the effects of bad motivations and amplifying good ones. It is in this sense that the market, when properly regulated (and such regulation needing to constantly be criticized and reviewed and removed should the original need for it no longer apply, meaning that I’m all for “sunset” clauses) as shown itself pretty capable of reacting to enlightened self-interest. Not always, mind you, but better than most other forms in human history. Of course that starts getting into a whole other host of political and philosophical discussion that takes us WAAAAY off topic. 🙂 (Unless you wanted to start up a topic on it, at any rate. After all it’s your blog and I don’t really mean to hijack the thread. I just saw the commentary about libertarianism that, as you mentioned about Grover Norquist or even Ayn Rand, IMHO, that tends to heavily emphasize that libertarianism is somehow about selfishness when in many ways it’s the exact opposite, at least from what I have seen of the libertarians I know and certainly of the way I view it.)

  17. Lenny Zimmermann said

    F P: regarding the “Can’t we balance this out more equitably?” in relation to family doctors, “big pharma”, etc. You point out the extreme intricacies of government involvement in the health care industry in general. The corporations more easily hide behind government regulation and even use it put the “little guy” competition out of business, all the while being able to hide behind the label of “corporation” (a term that gives businesses the ability to exist as a separate legal entity from the owners and employees of said business, which is acknowledged to have rights, but which makes it much, much harder to assign any responsibility… meaning you can blame a “corporation” for something all you like while the the actual people responsible for whatever the problem is are generally allowed to be held unaccountable. It has the rights of a person but very little of the responsibilities we expect of a person.)

    In all, very complex stuff which really shouldn’t be nearly as complex as it is. If it weren’t we would very likely have a far more efficient health-care industry with plenty of room for those family doctors and for patients to really get the kinds of care they really need. Unfortunately the concept of universal healthcare as generally presented, at least by many politicians in the Democratic Party, would only try to centralize healthcare under governmental control, when there are more than a few of us who fully believe that backing out the morass of government regulation and re-approaching how we deal with health care away from a government managed method we can greatly improve the entire system.

    Same for educations. Providing for some level of competition in schools, real competition, will give parents more choice on the kind of education they want their child to receive. Think of education tax credits (or even vouchers, but it could be argued that vouchers are simply government money, whereas tax credits are assumed to be you personal money and, thus, where you send your child is your choice as opposed to being considered in any way a child mandate. That’s yet another topic, though, that I’m rambling on about… ;))

  18. Lenny Zimmermann said

    Doh! That second to last sentence should not say “in any way a child mandate.”, but rather “in any way a government mandate.”

  19. John Edwards will be on Hardball tonight talking with Chris Matthews. MSNBC put a transcript out of the interview today…

    MATTHEWS: President Bush, in his last press conference, last week, said his idea was for America to go shopping. He literally said that. What do you make of that as a way to engage the public in our national cause?

    EDWARDS: What planet is he living on? I have absolutely no idea. I mean, this is the man that’s in charge of this war in Iraq. You know, after September 11th we had an extraordinary moment of unity and a proud feeling of patriotism. I had it myself. All of us had it. And it was a great opportunity for us to tap into the will of the American people to do great things together, not just for themselves, but for America.

    See, I don’t think that will and feeling has gone away. And we need — the next president of the United States needs to tap into it and say, not in an ideological way, not in a partisan way, but say: These are the great things that we can do as Americans, but you can’t sit home and complain that somebody else is not doing their job. If you actually want America to be great, you’re going to have to step out and take some responsibility yourself and do something.

    MATTHEWS: Does it scare you that a president of limited rhetorical ability, like President Bush, was able to turn this country, not against the terrorists who attacked us 9/11, but against French fries, against the French, against Europe, and put us all out there alone in the world — it was idiotic at the time — against the Dixie Chicks? Does it scare you that the power of the presidency can be used in that fashion?

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