2010-01-08 / Columnists

The Progressive

New Year
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

As 2009 ended and as we enter the promise of a new year, it is becoming more evident each day that most Americans are fearful of the future prospects of the nation. Many feel it is inevitable that we are in a decline. There is a genuine malaise and a belief that future generations will not be as prosperous as previous ones. Amer - icans, throughout our shared history, generally believed their children would have a better life. This holiday season was marked by another terrorist attempt on an airline. This has taken our attention away from the domestic agenda of the Obama administration. Our survival as a people demands we recognize international threats while reforming the structure of our economic, political, and social life to address the issues of prosperity, civil liberties, and our morale.

Last year most Americans were enthralled by the inauguration of a young, energetic, and intelligent man as commander in chief. Progressives and labor union advocates were enthusiastic that the anti worker policies of the previous administration would now cease.

Our new Secretary of Labor has now enforced worker safety regulations that were not enforced in previous years. At the same time, there has not been any serious movement towards a society which allows workers to have a democratic voice as to issues all workers have regarding wages, hours of employment, retirement, and security.

Organizing labor unions without unfair opposition by the economic aristocracy of the nation is the answer. Most banks, insurance companies, brokerage houses, and department stores are unorganized. Our private sector is run without any regard to the dignity and needs of the staff that create the wealth of the sector and ultimately of the nation.

Immigration policy is still incoherent and appears again to be a policy that rewards the captains of industry that can prey on the weaknesses of an in - humane and illogical system that treats people as commodities that can be disregarded when it is desirable.

My wife often is kind to stray animals. She feeds them and takes care of them when they are in need. This is admirable. Many Americans have pets as my family does. In a supermarket that I go to, there is an aisle for pets that includes clothing items, beds, toys as well as food. Americans are fond of pets. It is noteworthy that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to An - imals was established before any effort was made to prevent cruelty to children.

Our undocumented workers from foreign lands are not beasts of burden. They are people who deserve dignity. Recent articles in the New York Times regarding Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia (that city’s charity hospital) not treating undocumented immigrants who have chronic diseases is eye opening in a nation that spends billions on pets.

It is also horrifying the senate version of the health care bill leaves millions of Americans uninsured. As the nation was concerned about the terrorist attempt, the New York Times also had articles about E. coli in our meat supplies, which was disturbing. It appears that in order to increase profitability the meat industry has decided to use ammonia as a disinfectant of trimmings sold to the fast food industry. This was to prevent E. coli outbreaks, but has not been successful. We need a complete review of our food delivery system.

When we were discussing this new threat on an airline, it became apparent that the Republicans have not allowed many appointments made by President Obama to take place. One such appointment would have been the appointment of the head of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). One of the chief objections is that the appointee would be amenable to union organizing of airport security workers. This is unacceptable and also goes well beyond democratic parameters of partisan activity. Appointments made by the party in the White House should take place unless the appointee is unfit for the position.

As our economy rebounds according to the dictates of Wall Street and the fuzzy sound bites of a complaint media, many young Americans are in a Catch 22 prospect of a college bill debt with meek prospect of any rewarding employment. Many are still losing their domicile. Our Gulf Region is still crying out for justice and healing after Katrina. China, while we celebrated Christmas, launched the most advanced high speed train system in the world.

Sewer systems, bridges, hospitals, schools, and subway systems cry out for renovation. President Obama has been in office one year and is striving to correct all the threats that face the nation. International Religious Terror - ism is only one threat and our attention cannot and must not be limited to this threat.

As we strive to conquer terrorism with unsinkable excursions in foreign lands that sap our energy, revenue, blood, and our time without any corresponding advantage to the security of the public, an examination of how to address the threat needs to be discussed without rancor and partisan power plays. These foreign excursions may be a contributing factor to the attraction of such heinous activity.

As 2010 begins ground zero is still an eyesore. It took fourteen months to build the Empire State Building during the Great Depression. We need to rebuild the economy of this nation. This can be the best response to the terrorists. Our strength is not just in our armed forces but in the resiliency of a people who can transform lives because of their tolerance, fortitude, and belief in a better tomorrow. Let America rebuild is this progressive’s message to the White House and the leaders of both political parties. We will defeat terrorism when we engage in eliminating terrorist activity overseas by using our armed forces when necessary and using our economy as a beacon of hope, respect, and dignity and not just of greed.

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