America’s Collective Anxiety Attack: We Need Group Therapy

July 2, 2008

A wise man at NYT’s Op-Eds, Thomas Friedman, wrote last Sunday about the urgent need to build/rebuild this nation from within. Titled “Anxious in America“, his column stresses:

It’s the state of America now that is the most gripping source of anxiety for Americans, not Al Qaeda or Iraq.

…My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline… We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

I remember Bush’s challenge to the world shortly after the maniacal attacks on the WTC towers 7 years ago: “you are with us or you are with the terrorists”. Somehow, these past 7 years have focused so much on “you” or “them”, that our government seems to have lost track of “us”. If there’s no us, then what are we fighting for?

Friedman urges us to dig ourselves out of this hole (aka gigantic crater) by voting for the candidate who will place nation-building as his top priority.

This year, America needs to make a critical political choice, examine its own problems, and buckle down with some hard-working, long-term solutions to rebuild and rebalance. We don’t need any more “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent” or dancing ex-stars. We need an American President! And we definitely need group therapy! Are we ready to snap out of this collective depression?

California: Same-Sex Weddings Could Boost Economy (no kidding)

June 11, 2008

Yesterday: forced marriages in Iran. Today: same sex marriages in California. It’s June after all.

Businessweek reports on a new study released by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. It reads in part:

Same-sex weddings could create hundreds of new jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into California’s economy…

Gay couples are projected to spend $684 million on flowers, cakes, hotels, photographers and other wedding services over the next three years… The nuptial rush is expected to create some 2,200 jobs.

…Over the next three years, gay weddings will generate $64 million in additional tax revenue for the state, and another $9 million in marriage license fees for counties.

gaymarriageProjections were based on the economic impact of gay marriage in Massachusetts and in states such as Vermont, which currently allow civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

While it’s great to have the Williams Institute officially articulate how same-sex weddings could produce significant economic benefits, I’m not exactly sure whether the study tells us anything new.

Weddings ARE big business! It’s common knowledge: each coupling gets a nice chunk of capital flowing regardless of how large or small the affair. Why should same sex weddings be any different? Weddings generate wealth — regardless.

(Of course, the boost from same sex weddings is still theoretical. California may not see the extra revenue if voters approve a ballot initiative to overturn the court’s ruling allowing the weddings. See previous post.)

Photo: cpj97 on flickr

Bush Responds to Housing Crisis with “National Homeownership Month”

June 7, 2008

Home foreclosures are at a record high. And nothing bulldozes the American Dream faster than an eviction notice.

Have no fear: the Bush White House has declared June “National Homeownership Month”! From the official press release (i.e., not a joke):

For many Americans, owning a home represents freedom, independence, and the American dream. During National Homeownership Month, we highlight the benefits of owning a home and encourage our fellow citizens to be responsible homeowners

…I encourage all Americans to take advantage of financial education opportunities to explore homeownership. My Advisory Council on Financial Literacy is finding ways to help educate people from all walks of life about matters pertaining to their finances and their futures. By practicing fiscal responsibility, Americans can contribute to the strength of our neighborhoods and our country.

screamThis is not a matter of education. It’s the economy, stupid.

America’s existential crisis continues.

Get the Bushites and McCainites out of Our House now.

Image: Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, 1893, oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard. 91 x 73.5 cm. National Gallery, Oslo.