Thoughts on Inauguration Day – And What We Can Learn From It

Inauguration of President-Elect Obama by ajagendorf25 on Flickr!As many of you out there know, I’m pretty politically active in my spare time and I truly enjoy following and studying politics, both national and otherwise. Today, of course, is a momentous day in that arena, as George W. Bush peacefully hands over the presidency to Barack Obama.

Regardless of how you feel about Bush or about Obama, there is little question that in many ways this is a very profound change. I think my mother described it best – it’s more than just a shift in leadership, it’s a shift in generations, too. She identifies Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as being presidents from her generation – but Barack Obama is the first president from my generation.

What personal lessons can we take from this moment in time?

The United States is an amazingly stable democracy. For most Americans, the peaceful transition of power seems like a normal, common, and expected thing. Yet, over the course of human history, such peaceful transitions of power are the exception rather than the rule. Revolutions, wars, coups, and bitter transitions are the rule in most areas of the world, and the strong-armed changes that other people face undermine the stability of day-to-day lives. Currencies become worthless. People are driven from their homes and lives. Personal property is “nationalized.” In the United States, we are quite lucky that we don’t have to face such situations – and our safety from those situations is part of what gives us such prosperity.

Today, as Obama simply and quietly takes the reins of leadership, recognize that this transition isn’t taking place at the barrel of a gun – and it’s that stability and safety that plays a major role in the stability and safety in our own lives.

Our choices today do not have to be tied to the preconceptions of the past. Consider where race relations were fifty years ago. In many parts of the United States fifty years ago, segregation was in full effect, with different lunch counters and different water fountains and different bathrooms and different schools and different buses for people based entirely on the color of their skin. Such segregation seems utterly ludicrous today.

In the light of such profound changes in society (and I don’t think anyone would argue that such changes aren’t positive), it’s worthwhile to look at our own lives and ask ourselves what changes we could make. What aspects of our lives are being held back by a preconception that isn’t really true? Why are you working at your current job? Why do you buy the car that you do?

When I watch Obama take the oath of office today, I’ll be thinking about how much the world has changed since my grandmother was my age. The mere thought that an African-American could become president was ludicrous back then. What preconceptions do I have now that will be ludicrous in a year? In five years? What can I change about myself to reflect this?

You can forge your own path. The two people standing on the stage today – George W. Bush and Barack Obama – followed two substantially different paths to reach the presidency. Their courses had almost nothing in common – different childhoods, different schools, different career choices – but both wound up reaching their dream and reaching the pinnacle of what their profession had to offer.

What can we learn from that? There are a lot of different paths to the same dream, no matter how big that dream is. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. Don’t tell yourself that your background keeps you from doing it. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have the skills – you can learn many of them. Instead, look at the example today offers – two completely different people from completely different backgrounds who rose to the top. You can rise up, too.

The Obama administration represents new opportunities. From the moment Barack Obama steps to the podium and delivers his inaugural address, he’ll be pushing this country in a new direction. What does this mean for you? It means potential investment opportunities if you’re an investor. It means areas where you might want to move your career. It means subtle societal changes that you’ll gradually notice over time.

Listen to what Obama has to say. What industries is he talking about? What major social programs is he introducing? Right off the bat, you have clues as to where growth is going to be in the near future. Now, what can you do in your own life to take advantage of it? Could you buy some stocks? Could you sharpen your skills in a particular area? Could you even get directly involved by taking advantage of a major new program? Pay attention – and think about how things can directly affect you.

Unsurprisingly, I’ll be spending today watching the inauguration festivities, including the inaugural address. Hopefully you’ll watch (or at least listen) as well – and give some thought as to what this moment actually means for you.

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  1. NYC reader says:

    There are parts of the world where the idea of an orderly transition of power means handing the reins from one corrupt group of dictators, thieves, and thugs to another, all while pretending the elections were free and fair. The right to vote is fraught with peril in many parts of the world; even in this country, just a few short years ago it was dangerous to vote in some places if you happened to be black, and that’s if you could vote at all. Dr. King’s legacy of fighting for the right of all to vote must not be squandered; apathy and complacency can do the dirty work that Jim Crow couldn’t. If you’re not at the table, your voice is not heard.

    That’s why I get so worked up when folks tell me they didn’t bother to vote, or aren’t even registered to vote. A lot of young people registered and voted for the first times in their lives in 2008. I hope that the real lasting change Obama brings to the country is that folks take their civic duties seriously and they vote and stay involved in the process long after he’s out of office.

    As kids, we were told that anyone could grow up and become President, but I don’t think we ever really believed it. Maybe kids today will actually believe it.

    That said, consider the sad state of equality of elected officials in our country. There are 17 women in the Senate out of 100; when Hillary Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State, there will be 16. Obama was the only black in the Senate, his replacement Burris (appointed by the embattled Blagojevich) is also black, so there will still be only one.

    The great state of NY has had exactly one black governor, David Patterson, and that was an accidental governorship. No women, one Italian (Mario Cuomo), two Jews (Herbert Lehman and Eliot Spitzer), and no Asians or Hispanics have been governor. The liberal bastion of the state, NY City, doesn’t have a much better track record. One elected black mayor (David Dinkins), three
    Jews (Abe Beame, Ed Koch, Mike Bloomberg), two Italians (Fiorello LaGuardia, Rudolf Giuliani), no women, Asians, or Hispanics.

    We still have a long way to go before every kid growing up can look at her/his government and say, “Some day, I will be that person.”

  2. Anastasia says:

    Last time I checked, the US government wasn’t a democracy. It was a republic.

  3. Battra92 says:

    I’m not so optimistic as you are Trent. Personally I feel that we’re in for the first step towards doomsday. I’m not sure if he’s Nicholae Carpathia but he may be one of the congregation.

  4. Battra92 says:

    @Anastasia. You are correct. It’s also a nation of states who act as a union (E pluribus unum) but such facts like that are lost on most people who went to public schools.

  5. B says:

    I love historic days like this – I have a TV here at work and will be watching this all day long – I started before 7am and will likely be watching through the 10pm evening news.

    I wish I could be in DC to watch this first hand, but I’m sure the TV coverage gives me a much better view and understanding of what’s going on and who is there.

  6. James On His Journey says:

    Yes we are a republic and many people do forget that :-D They often forget that sadly because the best known most popular republic would in fact be the roman empire and what is sad about that is the simple fact that modern America is making many of the same mistakes that the roman empire was making which led up to its collapse… I hope we change course soon (but I doubt this new congress and president will be moving us in the right direction to avoid making more of these mistakes)

  7. Mr. GoTo says:

    For all you starry-eyed optimists out there, don’t forget that after inauguration Tuesday comes reality Wednesday, along with Congress, mounting budget deficits, and a huge tax bill coming due before long. So listen to the speech to learn all about the things that would be nice but will not actually happen. That’s what inaugural addresses are for.

  8. teri says:

    the difference between a republic and a democracy is extremely subtle, and may in fact be lost in our contemporary language. For example, the dictionary says:

    de⋅moc⋅ra⋅cy   –noun, plural -cies.
    1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

    re⋅pub⋅lic  –noun
    1. a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

    So yes, technically we are a republic, but technically we are also a democracy because our body of people eligible to vote is much broader than a classic republic (ie Rome, where people had the right to vote but would only be called on, in descending class order, until the election was decided by reaching a pre-determined number of votes).

    As I see the shift of generations, I can’t help but feel some excitement–we’ve come a long way, even though we have a long way to go. I am hopeful today.

  9. Frugal Dad says:

    Personally, I would prefer a much lower-key inauguration. I think it was Jefferson who walked to his inauguration, took the oath, and stopped by a local tavern to have dinner, where he reportedly had to wait for a table. I imagine it would have been difficult in those times to bestow a royal celebration on the incoming president, considering our desire at the time to minimize the role of the federal government, break free from anything resembling royalty, etc. My how times have changed!

    I wish success for our country’s sake, and my childrens’ future. But I am admittedly skeptical of the early plans to nationalize much of the labor force in the name of creating jobs. Further increasing deficit spending in an effort boost our economy will only work to artificially inflate it. Some day these debts will come due, just as they do in our personal lives. I hope it doesn’t bankrupt us as a nation.

  10. Amanda B. says:

    @Battra92:
    You know those are fictional books, right? That is like saying you think he is a minion of the Queen of Hearts. It is a little silly.

  11. Today’s day is even more amazing when you remember that the capitol was built by slaves. Here is a great video that I came across on the history of African Americans and the US capitol that adds to the meaning of today. – http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/video-

    I for one am interested in how a charismatic leader will effect and move the people. We can already see that people are moved by his words, I wonder if this will be more important and changing that any of his policies that I might disagree with.

    tour-echoes

  12. Troy says:

    Words of advice.

    Enjoy the “spectacle” for what it is today.

    Remember tomorrow reality sets back in.

    Do not ever invest in what you do not understand, regardless of whether or not the President discusses specific industries.

    And most importantly. Study why our country is facing the problems we face. Not what the media tells you, but what is really happening. There is much more to come financially, things that are known, but not well reported.

    The same factors and forces that have us in this financial “conundrum” have not dissapated. Do not get complacent because you think the market has stabilized. The factors are still there, and with virtually 100% certaintly will be even stroger and weild more influence in the coming months and years.

    We are at the very beginning of a paradigm shift in debt over-leverage. The media calls it de-leveraging. It is actually called living within our means, and while it sounds great and “about time”, the effects will be enormous while people are forced to adjust.

    An investment in the “market” right now is a gamble. Not an investment, a gamble.

  13. Mel says:

    “…as Obama simply and quietly takes the reins of leadership…”

    I don’t think there is anything simple or quiet about today’s display; it goes against everything I’ve come to expect from your articles that you don’t mention the extravagance of the inauguration celebration when budget cuts and layoffs are happening everywhere. I think the new president should have set an example for the rest of the country by encouraging fiscal responsibility from Day 1 and insisting that the festivities be as simple as possible. $150 million sounds like a whole lot of money to spend in one day. I wonder if anyone knows how many hungry kids even half that money would feed? It’s a little obscene to encourage the country to spend a day in service and then spend so much on a party… wouldn’t it be better to encourage responsibility every day and practice it as well?

  14. The Personal Finance Playbook says:

    Great post, IMO. I love the point about the stability of our government…that’s the advantage of living outside the third world, isn’t it?

    As is obvious from the posts made so far, there are a sea of mixed emotions out there. Even subtle changes can be scary, and no one can know what the future will bring. Obama could be a great president, one who brings peace and prosperity to the country, or he could be one that makes bad decisions, involves the US in things they should avoid, and could contribute further to the erosion of the economy. It’s true every time we have a shift like this. You never know. It’s frightening, but it’s also exciting in a way.

  15. eaufraiche703 says:

    :(

    sad, sad day for the union

  16. EngineerMom says:

    I think one of the most important points Trent made is getting lost in people’s political grumbling – a PEACEFUL transition of power.

    Whether you think this is a step in the right direction or a step in the wrong direction, one of the things that is so stunning about today is the fact that this happened without a revolution, without huge deadly riots, without one or another of the candidates being assasinated, and without people killing each other for voting “wrong”.

    THAT makes me proud to be an American, whether I agree with his policies or not.

  17. Johanna says:

    @EngineerMom: You realize, don’t you, that we are not the only stable, functional democracy in the world? Not by a long shot.

  18. Amanda B. says:

    Johanna,
    Just because we don’t have a monopoly on peaceful transitions, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate them. It is very sad that people can’t even be grateful anymore with be chastised.

  19. Amanda B. says:

    Johanna,
    Just because we don’t have a monopoly on peaceful transitions, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate them. It is very sad that people can’t even be grateful anymore without be chastised.

  20. CPA Kevin says:

    Man, there are some grouchy people on here today.

    I’m not going to delude myself and say that everything’s perfect now that we have a new President. He is taking office in a very difficult time – economically, environmentally and otherwise. However, I am hopeful that a new leadership will actually address some of these issues, rather than push it off to my grandkids like his predecessors have done.

    Between today’s events and watching the miniseries John Adams the past couple weekends, I am feeling patriotic. I haven’t felt that way in awhile. I think I’ll go read the Declaration of Independence this afternoon.

  21. typome says:

    I also watched the inauguration, Trent. It’s true that we have lots of work ahead of us, so for all the grouchos saying tomorrow will be reality…well, duh! Shame on you for thinking it was all going to be fixed quickly. But at least there are people who are proactive and people who will continue to whine.

  22. Trent, for a guy who says he follows politics you made one horrible comment in your entire well thought out post. WE DO NOT LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY. A Democracy is mob rule. We live in a REPUBLIC, where we are governed by LAW. People treat this like a trifle little thing that doesn’t matter, but it does matter. Democracies fail and often become Oligarchy, which is what is happening today. And we do face the devaluation of our currency and the nationalization of personal property if we are slack and take all that we have for granted, and as status Que.

    Otherwise, Good post.

  23. Kevin says:

    @eaufraiche703: Why so sad?

  24. AnnJo says:

    I wonder whether the mantra that dissent is patriotic will survive Obama’s inauguration? Somehow, I doubt it.

  25. Anne says:

    One of the great strengths I see for the new Administration is more than just a stated committment to bi-partisanship, to inclusion. I supported and voted for President Obama. There are plenty of issues where I disagree with him, as I’m sure others do. But I think if we want to get things done, if we want to fix the things that are broken, we have to come together and find the things upon which we DO agree. We need to look at our commonalities and essential sameness and build from there. We may have completely differing approaches toward the same end. And Administration that starts out with respect for multiple viewpoints is on the right track.

  26. KoryO says:

    I did not vote for the gentleman assuming the presidency today, but I wish him the best of luck.

  27. todo es bien says:

    Wow! Amazin amount of haters! If we are able to dig ourselves out of the deep hole we are in it will take time & sacrifice by a lot of people. You might want to at least consider giving Obama a chance. Or, just keep on hating, seems like it has got you to where you are now.

  28. Matt says:

    I also did not vote for this President. But I wish our nation the best of everything, and hope all works out in the end. People understanding politics will know that the President has very little power on his own. The Congress and President need to work together to improve ourselves… otherwise, we’ll just continue to have more years of bickering and finger-pointing (all to our scapegoat former President, unfortunately).
    Our nation can rally. We’ve seen it, nearly 8 years ago. I hope everyone’s patriotism can continue through these tough times, because our nation is the greatest, and it’s up to us to keep it that way.

  29. Broken Crock says:

    Racism is not yet dead in this country. If I didn’t already know that I would have figured it out from all the e-mails I received during the campaign with thinly veiled racist remarks, not to mention the ones that were heavy handed and dripping with disdain. Nevertheless we are moving forward. Racism and other forms of tribalism are obsolete philosophies, as more people are realizing. There is excellent evidence of this in the fact of a majority of Americans voting for Obama in November.

  30. Broken Crock says:

    Republic vs Democracy — This is a false dichotomy. They are not mutually exclusive, since “republic” means not having a king (or equivalent) while “democracy” means the people either control the government directly or freely choose representatives who do so.

  31. Cathy says:

    For all the pessimists out there who say Obama will not be able to deliver his promises. Remember, it’s not solely up to him to turn this around. It’s up to you.

  32. Rob says:

    What was this price tag, with people going hungry in America?

    Ironic isn’t it?

  33. almost there says:

    I wish the best for the new president. I think he is the best speaking president in my lifetime and for one that writes his own material I think what he address was brilliant. I hear the pundints on CNN cutting it down now, but I think he touched all the bases. Now, if we just survive the pole shift in 2012 all may be well in the future.

  34. Sally says:

    Sadly, it means nothing to me. It is “history” every time a President is sworn in. Most of the (mainstream) media sickens me with it’s fawning over President O. He’s the new “fave” celeb. What goes up must come down. Take a look at the dow – down 263 pts. at this writing. I’ve done my part – yet my net worth has gone down quite a bit – that’s not me doing my part – that is total manipulation by the media and the democrats.

  35. Sally says:

    And so far – not any ONE can become president – Any MAN can become president – no women so far……

  36. bethh says:

    Trent, I hope in future posts you recommend some ways for us to contribute to this new political era, whether by volunteering or writing letters to our elected officials. I came away from the inauguration speeches wanting to pitch in my energy and time, not just figure out a way to make a buck.

  37. CPA Kevin says:

    Yes Sally, the media and the Democrats caused the Dow to drop. How then do you account for the Dow almost tripling while Clinton was President?

  38. prodgod says:

    Aren’t we a Democratic Republic?

  39. Sally says:

    I hope it comes back when O is President. I was sarcastically saying that it hasn’t come up today – the media has painted Obama as our savior – and I’m merely pointing out that he hasn’t saved us yet.

  40. DivaJean says:

    How sad that so many here want to dig their heels down and refuse to open their minds to change for one moment…

  41. Jimbo says:

    Sally, that’s because women aren’t good enough, happy?? I am SO tired of the feminist lobby.

  42. DivaJean says:

    Jimbo,

    Feminists are tired of obstructionists.

  43. Jimbo says:

    DivaJean – I am not an obstructionist. I am tired with feminists equating the struggles that African Americans have faced in the US to the struggles women have faced. Barack Obama becoming President is a historic event that Hillary Clinton becoming President would not have been.

    Hillary Clinton ran an excellent campaign and came up short and NOT because she was a woman but because Barack was the better choice. The glass ceiling HAS been shattered.

  44. Cathy says:

    ‘Doing your part’ isn’t measured by net worth. If your portfolio was hit that badly, then take a moment and learn how to improve your diversification. My index funds are down 35%, but my overall retirement portfolio is only down 12.5%.

    Last year, I donated blood, donated money to school projects, and gave food to homeless kids. What can you do that doesn’t have a net worth value?

  45. Sally says:

    It doesn’t hurt to be a healthy skeptic – the definition: 1. One who is yet undecided as to what is true; one who is looking or inquiring for what is true; an inquirer after facts or reasons.

    I hope for the best – but I am not like a lamb to the slaughter. I won’t drink the kool-aid – that’s all. Sorry for those who don’t like that sentiment.

  46. I thought it was a good address. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a US politician acknowledge that this country includes “non-believers.” So that’s a first. I was very pleased to hear him touch on themes of hard work, personal responsibility, and our collective need to roll up our sleeves and squarely face the difficulties we’re in as a nation.

    Along with at least two other gardening friends of mine, I’ve resolved to “plant a row for the hungry” this year. I’ve already called the local soup kitchen and confirmed that they are ready and willing to accept fresh garden produce any time we have it ready. One in 10 Americans lives with hunger or is at risk of hunger. There are 70 million gardeners in this country. One row of crops in 70 million gardens could feed a helluva lot of hungry children. I’m looking at this as a very personal form of tithing.

    This is one small thing I can do to contribute to my community. I hope I can convince some other gardeners to join me. More info at this link if anyone’s interested:

    http://www.gardenwriters.org/par/

  47. Matt says:

    I’m tired of the people with so much time on their hands that they just fingerpoint instead of taking a hard look at themselves and how little they contribute to society. I’d argue some people are a complete detriment. But what do I know? I’m not a member or “obstructionist”, “feminist”, or any other “ist” category.

  48. Sally says:

    @ Cathy – doing my part = being gainfully employed, paying my taxes, raising children to become adults that are gainfully employed, paying their taxes, etc. Please don’t put your stuff on me. Charity begins at home.

  49. Amanda B. says:

    @Sally,
    Are you implying that your “charity” is paying your taxes and raising your children? That is doing your part? Wow, your sacrifice is staggering.

  50. Cathy says:

    @Sally: I reject that interpretation. I prefer the interpretation that you first learn charity at home. It is only through the experience of love and generosity in our own lives can we pass it down to others.

    My ‘charity’, through your definition, is not to raise my children as islands with no sense of community.

  51. almost there says:

    Is this the catfight site?

  52. Sally says:

    @Amanda and @Cathy Oh – you’ve got me there. I could never give as much as you. I guess that’s why a woman can never be President – - right Jimbo? Too much dissent – not enough “understanding”

  53. Jimbo says:

    Sally – my comment was very much tongue-in-cheek in case that was apparent.

  54. Amanda B. says:

    No, just too much whining and an inflated since of self sacrifice. Real feminist just work hard and don’t unnecessarily call foul.

  55. Jimbo says:

    Sally – my comment was very much tongue-in-cheek in case that wasn’t apparent.

  56. Rob says:

    Dont click on Tiphero. If you sign up, you will start getting spam.

  57. The Personal Finance Playbook says:

    Political discussions really bring out the best in people, huh? Well, maybe not the best, but they definitely incite passion! I love the passion, but hate the snarkiness.

    I think if you subscribe to ALL of the ideas of either party or hate the party you aren’t a part of, you are missing the point. It is the incentive of the parties to create a “brand” that you will be loyal to, to the exclusion of the other party. I think it is the responsibility of the people to resist that branding, and remain open to ideas. Educate yourself, issue by issue and never stop learning. The answer is not in a platform someone else makes for you – it is in your personal platform. Decide what matters to you and be passionate about that, rather than being passionate about the party.

  58. Christine says:

    Sally, do you really think that the fact that President Obama hasn’t “saved” us in the now three hours that he has been President is indicative of anything?

    I don’t think that anyone, even his most fervent supporters, expect him to “save” us. What they do expect is that he will change the course that America has embarked upon — that he will repudiate torture, that he will re-implement the rule of law, that all of the Rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, including those contained in the 4th amendment, will be important, and that he will change course from the failed economic and social policies of the Bush years.

    As for the person who believes that today is a “sad, sad day for the union,” I would suggest that, while it may be a sad, sad day for you personally, the election of a new president and the peaceful transition of power can hardly be considered a sad day for our government. You may disagree with our new President, but he won the election quite convincingly, and to suggest that it is a sad day when the guy who wins gets to claim his position is absolutely wrongheaded. It will be a sad day for our union only on the day that we do not have a peaceful transition of power from the loser to the winner.

  59. Clyde says:

    What preconceptions do I have now that will be ludicrous in a year? In five years? What can I change about myself to reflect this?

    Good article Trent. I thought this was an interesting piece and it got me thinking about preconceptions today. I think many people’s preconceptions about homosexuality today will be proven ludicrous in the future. Our children or grandchildren will look back on gay marriage bans with disbelief.

    I thought of some others as well. Anyone else?

  60. Cathy says:

    Well said, Christine!

  61. Dan says:

    I can’t believe that so many are surprised by the negative sometimes bitter things that are said about our newly inaugurated president. After all we’ve seen 6 years of negative press that has convinced us that everything that republicans do is wrong and everything that democrats do is right.

    This leaves us in a place where most republicans are waiting for a misstep so that they can say I told you so.

    The democratic party has become so beholden to the environmental movement that we aren’t allowed to drill for our own oil, causing prices to sky rocket and crippling the consumer.

    The media and the democratic party has talked down the economy for so long (even in times of growth) that the consumer has decided to take there money and go home.

    So the remedy for this is to raise taxes/fees and then redistribute through tax credits to those of us that do not pay taxes in the first place. For those of you that are wondering why this is not a good thing, ask yourself this question: How many jobs are created by someone that does not pay taxes? Very few is the answer. How many jobs are created by someone who makes a lot of money and in turn pays a lot of taxes? A lot is the answer.

    You can’t tax your way to prosperity.

    So for now, yes it’s a historic and joyous occasion that we are inaugurating a “black” president however we can’t pretend to be surprised that so many are going to play the part of loyal opposition.

  62. Sally says:

    @Jimbo – I am so glad that the comment was sarcasm – as I am a fan of that too!

    @Christine – I was being tongue in cheek – about saving the world today – but not about people buying into that – change, change, change – all cliches – There are many people who consider Obama to be the next JC – the man doesn’t have a long track record – it’s like running one race (the only one you have ever run) and winning the Olympic Gold Medal – you are the winner – but now comes the hard part – winning AGAIN

  63. Tracy says:

    I live here in DC and I’ve been taking part in all the Inaugural activities all weekend. The thing that gives me the most hope is not Obama – but the sheer joy and excitement and determination and, yes, HOPE of the two million plus people who are visiting here in my city. I’ve never been a part of anything like this, but just being around all these people is AMAZING, far more than you can even tell from the TV broadcasts. It’s overwhelming and not a little bit humbling, at the same time. America is a truly amazing place.

    God bless, Mr. President.

  64. Battra92 says:

    Dan, thank you for putting into words what I’ve been trying to explain to people all week.

  65. r pat says:

    L
    O
    L

    Dan, oil is FUNGIBLE, drilling here will not effect prices.

    Do your research before giving your strident little speeches.

  66. Gus says:

    Dan, I’m torn in how to respond to your comment. On one hand, I would like to mock you for acting like such a persecuted prima donna.

    On the other hand, if that is what you want to take away from this Inauguration Day, then maybe you should just open wide and try not to gag.

  67. Lisa says:

    Amen, Tracy! I’m a DC resident, too, and I watched the inauguration from the Washington Monument grounds. In spite of the cold and the biting winds, people were patient, polite, and joyous. I can’t even describe how nice complete strangers were to each other today. We sorely need the hope that the President offers. There is nothing more powerful than Americans who are fired up with optimism.

  68. jreed says:

    170 Million Dollars for the ceremony and celebrations? Couldn’t something more worthwhile and lasting have been done with that money? Paint one wall at a homeless shelter? Obama could have built many, many homeless shelters for the 170 million. It already isn’t adding up. I know it was from private donations but what a wonderful statement he could have made if he said we are going to forgo the foolishness and get right down to business; today, right now; not sometime in the indeterminable “future”. Another real opportunity lost.

  69. Christine says:

    @JReed — I couldn’t disagree more. I think that our country needed a reason to celebrate today. The ability of average Americans to participate in the inauguration of the President, to my mind, is not foolishness. It may be expensive, but it also represents the best of a participatory electoral system. As of today, Barack Obama is the people’s President, and the fact that so many of the people got to be there & see history happen is what separates us from an aristocracy.

  70. spaces says:

    @ Jimbo — Black men get to do everything before women get to. Own property, vote, be a Senator, be on the Supreme Court … And now, be President. That’s one less pane in the ceiling!

    @ Everyone — I’m so proud of our country today. Though I’m quite embarassed that a tiny minority of factless, partisan whiners are trying to ruin the day.

  71. mud says:

    @Christine – Yes, much like those who are being foreclosed on deserve their expensive vacation to Disney.

  72. Kirk says:

    I am with you, Trent… The peaceful passing of power is something to be celebrated!!! We are certainly not the only ones in the world, but this concept is inconceivable to many. When two sides so drastically disagree on vision for the country, but in the end, allow power to pass…it should be celebrated every time. I did not vote for Obama, but will cheer for him and our country to succeed.

  73. Cambo says:

    As an Australian watching from the outside I think the US should be proud and celebrate.

  74. nebula61 says:

    @Tracy–I envy you the opportunity to be there!

    @Kate–yes, I was happy to hear him include the non-believers, even if it sounded almost like an afterthought, it was a good thought!

  75. DrFunZ says:

    Let’s see.. we were asked to work together… for the common good.. to assume responsibility for our actions, to leave the world in a better place for the next generation. We were asked to recognize that in the eyes of God we are equal, that we all have a right to freedom and to resources. We were urged to work for those opportunities. We were reminded that fighting gets up nowhere except DEAD, morally and physically. We were reminded that a country that stands together succeeds. We were asked to sacrifice for our families and for each other.

    There are many hating people reading and writing on this blog. You haters clearly did not understand any message of today. Today was not about Obama – it was about us as nation. It was not about what HE is going to do for us… it was about what we as a nation are being called to do in a time of war and a time of financial crisis.

    And for those worried about the cost of the celebration…You are hypocrites. I do not hear you calculating how many shelters could have been built for ONE day of what we spent on the pre-emptive illegal war we are waging in Iraq. Choose life over dead – spend money on life, not death.

    By the way, Obama is just much white as he is black.

  76. DollarDream$ says:

    You said “There are a lot of different paths to the same dream, no matter how big that dream is”.

    What a great line Trent! This is why I keep on coming back to TSD – to get inspiration.

  77. Cathy says:

    @jreed: How many walls have you painted at a homeless shelter? Donated food? Clothing? Spent time filling soup bowls?

    That party was as much for his supporters as it was for him. People who donated their time signing up people to vote, getting others involved in the process. He owes his presidency to the people standing on the lawn. Hopefully he will remember the numbers standing there, and remember who he is accountable to. That is the way the process is supposed to work.

  78. Alice says:

    Did anyone (other than me) notice that neither Barack nor anyone else mentioned his white mother? Nor his white grandmother who raised him? Obama only made a reference to his African father. Why is that? Don’t people, when they win an award or accomplish some great thing, thank their mothers????

    Obama is not a 100% black african american. He’s half white and he is bi-racial. I do not understand why there is no honesty in this one reality. Can someone explain this?

    It’s obvious that Obama will not connect to his white roots, yet Ireland, where Obama’s white mother is from, has been celebrating Obama’s mother all day long. There is even talk that they may make her hometown a shrine. And it is also obvious that Obama will not give credit to the 2 women who raised him (mom and grandmother). Yet, Joe Biden had his 90+ mother with him, so did W. and both men honor their mothers publically.

    There really is bias against women. Did anyone else notice that Rick Warren prayed the ‘Our Father’ prayer? Coincidence?

    It really is a man’s world out there. Hillary never had a chance. And it is disgusting to me, as a mother, that Obama never thanked his mother for his birth, nor even mentioned his grandmother who raised him.

    People are patting themselves on the back that they voted for a black man. You didn’t. You voted for a man who played the race card extremely well.

  79. AJ says:

    I am not an American citizen so I asked a colleague why President Obama (ohhhh! that’s sounds so much better than President Bush!) is considered African-American when his mother was white and his father was effectively little more than a sperm donor. He told me about the “one drop rule”. This is still the case in today’s America? Guess it must be because President Obama is always referred to a black. Sad that the old mentality and racism still exists in the US.

    I wish President Obama, America’s first bi-racial president, well for his term in office. Although, considering the absolute cr… mess the previous administration left behind, it will be a tough, tough job. At least he can’t do any worse; that’s just plain impossible!

  80. Jess says:

    Technically, Obama was born in 1961 which makes him a baby boomer. So he’s in the same generation as all those who came before. I know what folks mean when they say he’s part of the new generation; he certainly has used new media in ways boomers haven’t. He’s definitely used the internet in a way previous politicians haven’t. But, lets not create a narrative that isn’t true.

  81. April says:

    re: democracy vs. republic

    Democracy is a government in which citizens rule themselves and share same rights and freedoms. Many different forms of democracy have existed throughout history. In ancient Athens (one of the best early examples), citizenship was limited to a small elite group. This group was small enough to meet and make decisions by voting directly on government actions. The closest thing we have to this type of direct democracy today is when you vote on propositions.

    A republic is a form of democracy in which the power to rule is transferred to representatives by citizens. This became necessary for as states became larger (the Roman Republic being a prime example), and the structure of government became more complex to rule more people. Whereas Athens was a single city and some surrounding countryside, the Roman Republic came to encompass most of Western Europe.

    The republic is much more effective for us today than direct democracy, even though it does have its limitations. One has only to look at the patchwork legislation enacted by voter-approved propositions in California (financed heavily by special-interest groups) to see the mess that direct democracy makes.

  82. ooohhitskaren says:

    I set my alarm to watch the inagurial address..I cried with joy at his speech. I too after hearing his speech wanted to roll up my sleeves and do more to help…and still do for that matter. I have great hopes that he can be the leader this country needs to move in the right direction and get our country back undercontrol.
    I worry everyday that things will get worse..and they have been for several years now. Since 911 I have watched how people have had to change their spending habits due to higher prices, etc. I had a small business that depended on people with disposible income..as the kind of income shrank and shrank..my sales went down, down, down so much so that I had to close in 2006. I came to the conclusion that no amount of marketing was going to make people spend what they don’t have. Today, I am happy I no longer have that wonderful small business I once sweated over for 11 years of my life..I be on the street homeless, my business could not survive even now with the high gas prices we had and so on and so forth. Our mighty country has a lot of healing and re-arranging its going to have to do..also growing too. So our new president and his staff will be in my prayers daily, in hopes that they will make better decisions. And I’m all for growing a row for the hungry this summer in my garden. I will check into one of our soup kitchens to see if they want some of my veggies and fruit I will be growing this season.

  83. April says:

    I agree that the Obama adulation is kind of scary … when you put someone so high on a pedestal, it’s only a matter of time before they come up short of expectations. But great things have never come from small expectations. We’re in a dire situation, and we need to demand leadership from our government, right from the top. Things won’t be entirely rosy for the Obama administration, but I’m confident that criticism will be handled with dignity, in the open, and with accountability in mind … something that can’t be said of the previous administration.

  84. Jenny says:

    As a good gen Xer, my days are normally filled with more skepticism than you can shake a stick at. Any event that can evoke a sense of hope in me is really something, and I gladly embrace Obama’s call for renewed personal and civic responsibility.

    Of course our new president is not an instant savior. More so I believe in the ingenuity and hardwork of Americans, and I believe Obama can be the mobilizing force we need to catalyze and harness the gifts innate in us as individuals and as a nation.

  85. Lisa says:

    @jreed comment #60~~~~That 170 wasn’t from donations. One hundred twenty -nine million of it was from us the taxpayers, Federal funds.

  86. Karma says:

    I wonder at the people that complain about the price tag for the inauguration. Who do you think got the money spent, Michelle and President Obama? I think some sanitation engineers, waitresses, hotel clerks, cooks and street sweepers made a few extra bucks. How about the airlines, hotels, resturants and department stores. I think some government stimulus has already begun. Give the man a chance, he may surprise you in many positive ways.

  87. Juliska says:

    The $170 million wasn’t thrown into a shredder marked “inauguration.” It went into PAYCHECKS – everything that was purchased, rented, leased, allocated, whether goods or services, was paid for. Someone earned it. The money hasn’t disappeared – it’s circulating through the economy.

  88. AnnJo says:

    With thanks to George Washington, who set the example and the tradition of peaceful transfer of power repeated today (and no thanks to FDR, who convinced himself he was indispensable and nearly destroyed that tradition), we made it through another shift of power.

    Lots of happy people had a great party.

    That’s all good, but as Winston Churchill said, “In Victory, Magnanimity.” Could people lay off the “now let’s all work together” stuff and just respect that a whole lot of people think Obama’s likely policies are going to be a disaster? Some people want a much bigger, more powerful, more intrusive, more controlling government. Those of us who don’t want that can hardly be expected to want to work with you in opposition to what we believe is right. (And no, we weren’t happy with Bush along those lines, either.)

    While two million have been attending the inauguration, another two million have been stripping the shelves in every gun shop across the country, selling every stock in which they had a capital gain, considering their company’s payroll and trying to decide who to lay off, staying away from recruiters’ offices, and otherwise trying to protect themselves from Obama’s likely policies.

    Our country is idealogically divided, as it has been for many decades, between the collectivist/statist tradition and the individualist/libertarian tradition (with lots of people who have no clue what the differences are). Reagan was charming, but he didn’t charm the collectivists, who hated him vigorously. Obama’s charm will not convert an individualist into a collectivist, either.

    Just remember, folks, dissent is patriotic!

  89. Ken Deboy says:

    @AnnJo:

    “Just remember, folks, dissent is patriotic!”

    That is only true when a Republican is the President. When a Democrat or socialist is President, then dissent is un-American whining and complaining, and the people practicing it are “haters.”

    Cheers,
    Ken

  90. Wow! What horrible, horrible people! I am amazed, Trent. How do you stand it? How can you stand to provide a forum for people to spew vitriol like this? And if you really, truly believe that you are fostering open-mindedness, “dissent”, or some other good and fair activity, then I guess you feel okay, but I feel sad. I did think you were better than this. I have been on the internet a long, long time, and there’s nothing virtuous about a flamewar — although in every flamewar I’ve ever read, including this one, the participants were quite sure virtue abounded. I really, really didn’t want to read anything as mean-spirited and negative and self-righteously smug as many of these comments, ever, and especially not as a response to President Obama’s inauguration. I guess I will have to unsubscribe, since only reading your posts as emails and carefully staying away from the community of your blog defeats one of the main purposes of a blog. But if these people are your community, I don’t want to associate with them, or you, and no doubt they, and presumably you, don’t want to associate with me. So much for new opportunities, hopefulness, personal responsibility, and our choices today not having to be tied to the preconceptions of the past! Good luck. I hope it works out better for you.

  91. PS – I think your moderation message — “Your comment is awaiting moderation. Please be patient; it may take a few hours for your comment to be approved. This is merely to ensure that no material offensive to a general audience appears on The Simple Dollar.” — is bizarre in the context of this post’s comments. As I implied and am certainly willing to state, I found many of the comments, and the thread as a whole, quite offensive. And if you don’t, then for sure it’s past time for me to stop reading your blog! Just because the published comments don’t use obscenities doesn’t mean that they are civil, let alone compassionate. But without civility, and even more importantly compassion, we are not going to be able to solve our problems, no matter on what side of which divide our opinions supposedly fall. And the need to be virtuous, to be good, to be kind, to be thoughtful, in our conduct extends to the tiniest, most trivial act, including comments made to a blog post — if you can’t be caring and careful then, when can you?

  92. Mizzle says:

    First of all, congratulations to all who, like me, are happy to see the new US president – either for his policies or simply for the hope that he is bringing to so many. I can’t help but think that this hope alone can inspire people to do great things.

  93. Mizzle says:

    That said, I would like to add that it bothers me to see statements like “revolutions, wars, coups, and bitter transitions are the rule in most areas of the world, and the strong-armed changes that other people face undermine the stability of day-to-day lives” and to hear Obama say that “we are ready to lead once more”.

    Although I’m sure there’s Americans who *do* know that the USA isn’t the only civilized country in the world, I’m sad to say that the average American seems to be ignorant enough (on these matters) already. People ask me whether we all still walk in wooden shoes (although they’re more likely to ask about cannabis nowadays) and one girl (age 12) was surprised that we had ‘gas and electric lights’… It’s good for US citizens to realize that they’re lucky to have a democracy and everything, to not take it for granted, but please realize that you don’t have a monopoly on civilization. That attitude just makes you (as a nation) look silly. You may be the ‘de facto’ leader(s) of the world, but we never asked you to lead…

    from the Netherlands (which is *not* the capital of Amsterdam, but rather the other way around)

  94. Nik says:

    @AnnJo

    I agree that an individualist will never be converted to a collectivist and vice versa, but I think what we need to agree on is what will get this country out of the situation we are in. The issues plaguing the country right now are not individual problems but collective problems; they affect all of society. So using individualist solutions to fix collective problems will invariably fail. How are we to educate the populace, feed and house the needy, repair our infrastructure, and spur new growth if everyone is only worried about keeping their own money?

    I respect your individualist ideals, I have a few of my own, but I think what many Obama supportors are asking is for you to acknowldge that a collective solution is going to be the best option to fix these problems and to help us achieve that solution.

  95. Gratie says:

    “Buying guns off shelves, selling off stocks” as stated by AnnJo, seems a bit extreme. But if you did not care for all of FDR, GW Bush, Reagan or Obama (one can also guess that Clinton and Carter were not her faves either; sounds like George the first remains unscathed), then essentially this person has been unhappy with our government for more than a few years! WOW. Yeah, I would get a gun, too. But for a different reason! Clearly the “individualist/libertarian” viewpoint is not making it in this country. Hope that bunker is well stocked and that you are grateful that you are the person who can LAY OFF people and NOT be laid off.

    The call to community and collectivism is the one that will save us despite those who believe the contrary. We have already seen what individualisn and lack of regulation in the markets has done. Paradoxically enough, it will be those who believe in individualism who will benefit the most from our collective good will.

    I believe when Obama said the US will be a leader, he did not mean “leader” as in power broker. The US has lost its moral ground – we allowed torture, we attacked a country that did not attack us first, we lied about WMD and when we found out the truth we did not correct it. These things make us fall to the bottom of the moral hill and place us with the nations with the worst behavior. We used to be known for helping others, for brokering peace. That is the kind of leadership to which Obama refers. Given a choice, I would rather our country be known for helping others than hurting them.

  96. Sally says:

    @ Dan – I too thank you for expressing so eloquently how “some of us” feel.

    I object to the “haters” moniker. C’mon – people disagree – and we/they are “haters”???

  97. Dana says:

    Anastasia: We’re both a republic and a democracy. “Republic” means both “nation that is not headed by a monarch” and “representative democracy.” Muddy water is still water.

    Mizzle: I look forward to the day when your large, technologically advanced, and militarily powerful nation takes over the helm as world leader. It is what it is. I don’t like my country being the world bully when it acts that way, but don’t pretend we aren’t the remaining world superpower. I imagine China will overtake us one of these days, but given their stellar human rights record thus far–with our faults and flaws, we still put them to shame!–I doubt most of the world will want that.

    Trent: Please do not make the mistake of thinking that because we have a black President now, that racism is magically solved. Just because there is no de jure segregation anymore does not mean there is no de facto segregation anywhere. I invite you to learn more about the ways in which African-American kids are kept separate from higher-class white kids in the schooling system and in neighborhood distribution. (For example, I still hear white people refer to majority-black neighborhoods as “the ghetto,” and speak of avoiding visiting or living in them.) Racism still happens every day, and people grow up believing they have limits imposed upon them because they have never known anything else. It is important to remember that Barack Obama was raised not by his Kenyan family but by his white family. Whatever racial obstacles he encountered as a child would have been mitigated by his association with them. We have come such a tremendously long way as a country to have elected him to the highest office in the land, but I believe we will have come farther still when whites (and I’m white) learn basic empathy and start listening to what black people have to say instead of insisting it’s all in their heads, nope, no racism here! And when we can elect an African-American who came from an all-black family and a poor background. Bill Clinton started from humble roots so I believe this can and will happen, but it may take a while longer.

  98. Dana says:

    And Jimbo? Until you know what it’s like to grow up female and be a woman in the United States, I suggest you leave discussions of feminist matters to actual feminists, male or female.

    Because your flippant attitude suggests to me that you not only don’t know what you’re talking about, you also don’t care.

    Hillary Clinton being elected President WOULD be a historic event. Her being elected to the Senate already has been. The fact that it did not receive the press it should have received, given that she’s been one of a bare handful of First Ladies who did something with their status besides be decorative accessories to their husbands’ careers (charitable causes or not, that’s what most of them have been), should tell you something about how gender is perceived in this country.

    I don’t agree with everything she has ever said or believed, but she is smart and capable and no less deserving of achievement than any man with the equivalent intelligence and ability. But she is not a man. Women are not men who are missing a limb. So, men being elected to high office means nothing in terms of whether the glass ceiling has been shattered.

  99. Otis says:

    @Mizzle

    When I go to Europe people were surprised that being from Texas I: Didn’t ride horses, had never seen Dallas (the show), had never shot a gun, and didn’t sound like a ‘Texan’. It’s a two way street…and one that is only solved by going to places and learning.

    @Sally
    There’s a difference between disagreement and the catfighting you’ve digressed to. Objectively read through your posts again and you will see that while you are not personally a hater, your posts make it sound like you are.

  100. reulte says:

    Mizzle (#76) Geographic ignorance is not just a totally American phenomena . . . Maybe it’s just because I’m from Texas, but I’ve been (seriously) asked about Indian uprisings, my cattle ranch, the prevalence of gunfights in the streets, whether Dubya is a good neighbor, and where do I keep my horse while I’m at work.

    I’m just waiting to see how President Obama does; what else can I do? Hope for the best and do my share to see it happen.

  101. guinness416 says:

    To Alice (bizarre comment #78) – I’m from Ireland. All of the news stories about Obama’s Irish great-great-great-grandmother (not mother) are one part tongue in cheek and one part human interest story, especially given that most Irish people are delighted to see Bush gone. It’s sort of a national joke – “Even the president who looks the least stereotypically Irish has Irish blood! Hey he’s Barrack O’Bama!” Nobody in Ireland considers the guy white.

  102. eaufraiche703 says:

    Charlie Rose has said it best — twice. Once, right before the election and then again this week. He mused that we actually know very little about this man who’s been elected president. The public record is scarily lean. We don’t know what he reads; who his friends are; what he’s done… information was sparse during the election process.

    Unfortunately, the public has “transfered” their ideas regarding “change” onto this man — largely w/ the help of the media.

    So, here we are. And now those things we should have known before will be revealed. Hopefully, it will turn out well.

    It’s disconcerting that if one is not subscribing to the unearned hero worship of this relatively new public personna, one must be filled with “hatred” or “bigotry.” This is a scary notion. We are allowed to hold dissenting views in this country.

  103. eaufraiche703 says:

    btw, Trent, Mr. Obama is considered a “boomer.” Just like Clinton and W.

  104. SwingCheese says:

    Despite its small size at the time of the founding of the city, ancient Rome was never a democracy. It began as a kingdom and became a republic which eventually became an imperial state.

  105. Sally says:

    @Otis: There’s a difference between disagreement and the catfighting you’ve digressed to. Objectively read through your posts again and you will see that while you are not personally a hater, your posts make it sound like you are.

    Why is it only catfighting when women are involved? I responded to the “comments” that I was not giving enough – according to Cathy, Christine and Amanda – because I “only pay my taxes and am gainfully employed” The HORROR!

  106. Amanda B. says:

    Sally,
    What you want a cookie? Should it be considered charity when you don’t steal cars? Or stab people in the street? Am I doing my part because I haven’t shot anyone today? If you don’t pay your taxes, you go to jail. If you don’t raise your kids, you go to jail. You don’t get to obey the law and then expect people you applaud your kind spirit. Being a law abiding, tax paying, citizen is the bare minimum you do to live here. So stop acting like you are being attacked. You are the one who said that you are special because you do what everyone else (except Eddie Murphy) does.

  107. Tracy says:

    @eaufraiche703 – It’s odd, isn’t it, that when it was the other side dissenting from Bush policies, we were branded wussy America-haters who longed to see our country fail? Hmmm. Puzzling.

    I truly believe that dissent IS patriotic, and the best way to make a truly great government (by keeping it honest). However, don’t pretend that it’s only important now that you’re the ones who are doing it.

    I hope that certain kinds of dissent that was pretty widespread during the last administration (torture, etc.) influences this one to make positive changes.

  108. jreed says:

    Again, what a wonderful statement he would have made if he said we are going to forgo the 170 million dollar foolishness and get right down to business…as for the people who were not invited to the right parties and seats and were standing on the lawn for three hours watching a video screen; their portfolios were dropping 4%. Maybe they should have gone to work because they are going to need that days paycheck in the times ahead. Come to think of it, how did they get the day off to begin with?

  109. Karin says:

    WOW-heated discussion..interesting on a day we were called upon to be united in these United States of America.

    I think people can disagree without being disagree-able.

    Showing kindness to your fellow human being is sometimes more important than being right.

    How soon we forgot..
    Did the rescue people and fire-fighters ask what race someone was before helping them during 9/11?

    Did the flight crew of US Airways Flight 1529 screen passengers about their religious or political beliefs before assisting them off the plane last week?

    We are all in this together. We are all Americans. We may be diverse, but we should not be divided.

    Just my .02

  110. AnnJo says:

    @Nik (#94), I accept that you believe statist, collectivist policies will solve our problems. I don’t know you, but I assume you hold those beliefs in good faith and have given them some thought.

    Can you do likewise? Can you accept that I believe, with complete sincerity, and for all you know, with an advanced education, a well-read background in history, political science and economics, and a high IQ score, that such policies will make our situation worse?

    With the track record collectivism on full display in the history of the former Soviet Union and its former sattelite states, in numerous countries of Africa, in the despair of FDR and his Secretary of the Treasury over the failure of eight years of their collectivist solutions to break the grip of the Great Depression, and on and on, how can you expect me to simply ignore what I have learned of history?

    Nik, how can I, in good conscience, do as you suggest and “acknowledge” that your solutions are what is needed, when I believe they are wrong and will lead to disaster?

    As far as my worrying about keeping my money, I don’t “worry” about it – worry being pointless, but I proclaim it as the ethical position to take. I earned it. You and Obama have no idea what effort that took, what responsibilities to clients, employees, family, relatives, creditors and my community I have undertaken to meet with those dollars, and what charities I support.

    All you know, and it seems all you need to know, is that you or some politician know better what should be done with my money than I do. I trust myself to spend it wisely far more than I trust you or Obama. And I’m perfectly willing to keep my mitts off yours and let you do what you think best with that.

    What’s wrong with that? My life belongs to me and to those with whom I have chosen to share it. It does not belong to some Chicago politician, even if he did get elected President.

    My duties as a citizen do not include delegating my moral duty for charity, which I strongly believe I have, to a politician. That is an evasion of my duty, not a fulfillment of it.

    When you walk past a homeless beggar, are you always certain exactly what the right charitable action is to take? Should you give him cash, a job, food, the address of the nearest shelter, the spare blanket in your car trunk? When you consider the plight of your mentally ill brother-in-law or your alcoholic friend or your drug-addicted employee, are you always 100% certain you know what you should do for them?

    I find those decisions terribly difficult and implementing solutions even harder. And if it is that hard even when I know the people involved intimately, how can I simply slough off the responsibility for them onto some distant bureaucrat and tell the government to go collect my “compassion” from my neighbors’ paychecks?

    To do the things you claim need doing, we need economic prosperity. If you think that raising taxes, increasing regulations, punishing common sense and rewarding stupidity are good ways to create economic prosperity, you’ve now got your chance to prove it. It seemed to work between 1933-34. For a while.

  111. Joe says:

    Ugh, please no politics and the useless comments that follow.

  112. Mulatto says:

    Re black vs white identity. I also have a black father and white mother, and considerably lighter complexion than Obama. However, the one drop rule applies and Americans have a keen eye for it, so I am often regarded as black in the United States. Interestingly, though, overseas I am generally regarded as white.

    I am not surprised that BHO has chosen to identify black. It makes life easier — a person who looks like him would always have to explain or defend himself otherwise. And really, our society prefers that you don’t bring it up.

    I have chosen to be ambiguous, and BTW not to provide information on those checkoff boxes that ask for race.

  113. Meri says:

    Sad how the topic of politics turns so hateful every time it’s brought up. Sure would be nice to see a civilized discussion of ideas and opinions without the conversation disintegrating into chaos and hostility. Just imagine what could be built, improved, changed, overcome if dissenting views were thoughtfully considered and the best parts of all side of an argument were used instead of holding on to one perspective with a clenched fist and hissing words at each other through clenched teeth.

  114. AnnJo says:

    @Meri, I’m curious what comments you found “so hateful.” There were a couple that were a little snarky but – aside from Helen Clement (#90 & 91), who can’t stand even being reminded that there are people who disagree with her, none of these comments, even ones I strongly disagree with, suggest hatred to me.

    I agree with you about the dangers of “holding on to one perspective with a clenched fist.” I did that all through college, professional school, and my early career, before the Carter Admininstration and some good books on economics led me away from the Left.

    But I don’t blame people for feeling passionate about politics. Politics, after all, is all about power – power over one’s own life against the power others want to have over it, and the power one might want to have over others. The people we choose through the political process are going to pass laws. Laws are going to be enforced at the point of a gun if necessary (that’s what laws are, after all). There will be winners – people who gain more power over their own lives and often over other people’s lives – and losers of power.

    I have seen the loss of a great deal of power over my own life through the politics of the last 40 years (as well as, in some areas, much greater freedom). I foresee losing some of those gains, and even more loss. Naturally, being of a pretty independent temperament, I don’t like it. That doesn’t mean I hate the people who did it or are going to do it; most of them think they are doing it “for the common good,” or even for my own good.

    But good intentions don’t entitle anybody to a free pass on criticism. If I go to the doctor with an ingrown toenail and she amputates my leg because she can’t tell the difference between a minor inflammation and gangrene, her good intentions won’t excuse her incompetence. I might not hate her, but I’m going to be pretty ticked off!

  115. jreed says:

    Why is everything always “sad”?…Be sad when there is a tragedy or death or illness…don’t make yourself sad because someone has a difference of opinion. This thread reminds me of the clothesline controversy…so many writers were “sad” that the neighbor didn’t embrace with glee Trent’s idea of putting up a clothesline.

  116. Reader says:

    I feel that Obama should be called our first bi-racial President and not first African-American President. To do otherwise totally disrespects his mother and her family who actually raised him. He carries their blood, too. His deadbeat dad obviously didn’t think too much of him.

  117. Josiah says:

    You should watch the documentary ‘Hacking Democracy’ I think it is online. Great explanation of our democratic process.

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