Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So Many Things Are Finally Over: Year End Reflections

2008 is over. This marks my first full year sharing my observations, opinions, and ideas online. It has not been a good year for me personally. 2008 has seen two illnesses for my wonderful partner Theresa, both of which required hospitalization for her and missed work for the both of us. The second illness saw me lose my job, as a result of the time I had to take off to care for her at home the day before she went to the hospital. Though I will not have to appear in court until the end of January, it has also seen me receive a summons to appear in court regarding medical bills of my own, more than half of which should have been covered by my insurance but not for the clerical mismanagement of my former employer. So, in that sense, this year has been, for me, a microcosm of everything wrong with our country's health care system, labor policy, and corporate regulation.

On the other hand, this year has been good for the country in some ways. We have rejected four more years of outmoded foreign and economic policy at the polls. The Democratic Party now controls both houses of Congress, and despite that party's flaws that is (or should be) still preferable to a Republican Congress from the mindset of any liberal, progressive, or radical. Most importantly, we have elected a new President. He is not the liberal I would like to see in the Oval Office, and he's certainly no radical, but President-elect Obama is an intelligent, capable, and judicious man who has shown the moral courage to lead rather than pander to his base. As part of his base, I might not always appreciate that, but leadership is the most important qualification for the job. President-elect Obama is a leader.

Yet it has not all been rosy. Republicans and Democrats, working gleefully together more often than not, have been deregulating big business and capital to the detriment of entrepreneurs and labor for nearly twenty years. We have seen the fruits of this policy in what bears an eerie resemblance to the Great Depression. Business has gorged itself into starvation, and is now feeling the pinch. The business of economic reconstruction and management of foreign policy will take precedence over a wide range of necessary reforms. Some of those reforms (health care, corporate regulation, and labor policy) are important aspects of that reconstruction, but equally important social reform, will probably fall by the wayside.

I have not been as diligent, disciplined, or professional in either the management of this blog or writing its entries as I would like. I intend to do better. I still don't know how many people are actually reading this blog but I know there are a few. I hope to do better by them.

We have a long way to go as a country. Much of the massive reform of our government that I believe necessary will likely not happen in my lifetime. That won't stop me from writing my thoughts and opinions, from encouraging, cajoling, and aggressively debating my government and the people of my country.

Yet we have elected a black president. My parents were born, and grew up, in the era of segregation. In my childhood, in the part of the country where I lived, four white police officers committed a brutal crime against a black motorist and were acquitted in court of any crime. Race riots ensued. Yet now, in my adulthood, a black presidential candidate won Indiana, Virginia, and Florida.

Call me a dreamer if you like, but that has to be a good sign. For me, that makes 2008 a very good year.

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