THE TENTH OF MARC FEST’S 12 MOST USEFUL THINGS

So far, I’ve given you the first through ninth (well, Marc has given them to us). And at the end of this series, I’ll give you the link to all 12.

10. Communicate effectively.
This is the best book on communications I’ve ever read. It’s extremely useful, even if you are not a communications professional. Learn how to make any message stick by turning it into a simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional story. Invaluable. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath

THE LIBERAL AND THE LIBERTARIAN ON MARRIAGE

If Bush v. Gore antagonists Ted Olson and David Boies can join forces to overturn the ban on marriage equality – as they have – why not these strange bedfellows?

In small part:

. . . Although we serve, respectively, as president of a progressive and chairman of a libertarian think tank, we . . . have come together in a nonpartisan fashion because the principle of equality before the law transcends the left-right divide and cuts to the core of our nation’s character. This is not about politics; it’s about an indispensable right vested in all Americans. . . .

If you think Charles and I shouldn’t have the same civil marriage option as any other couple, please read their argument. (If you think the church should be allowed to discriminate against us: I agree.)

BUDGET DEFICITS

Craig D.: “You still talk about Reagan/Bush/Bush deficits with a straight face while Obama has quadrupled the deficit in one year.”

☞ Clinton handed Bush what everyone called “budget surpluses as far as the eye could see” and urged the nation to “save Social Security first,” meaning “don’t blow the surplus on tax cuts for the best off, use it to shore up the nation’s finances.”

Bush handed Obama record deficits, $4 trillion in additional debt, two wars, and an economy teetering on the edge of complete collapse, with tax revenues plunging and safety-net payments soaring (which alone would have ballooned the deficit) that required a massive stimulus to avert. (What would Craig D. have done, had he been President? Just let the economy collapse?)

So the 2009 and 2010 budget deficits were/are pretty much a gift from President Bush, not Obama creations. Even conservatives agree.

THE NEED TO ADJUST

Michael Gardner: “Your suggestions in Monday’s column make complete sense, yet what I’m not hearing, from you and other financial pundits, is how do we deal with an issue that is far more fundamental than personal expenditures and taxation. I’m no economist, except in the most micro sense. I’m a small business owner who happens to live in Colorado Springs, a city now too often cited in the national press as a tarnished example of what happens when the don’t-tax-me crowd gets public voice and runs amok. Our parks are withering for lack of a water budget while trash accumulates – no budget for trash cans. The city grows dark as street lights are being unplugged. City pools are closing and being sold off to private ventures. Schools are in a desperate financial squeeze guaranteeing that tomorrow’s children won’t have nearly the meager educational opportunities afforded this already short-changed generation. And yes, I could go on. Is the answer increased taxation? Why yes, of course. But more fundamentally, we wouldn’t need to dramatically increase taxation if our community’s productive capacity were greater. If business after business hadn’t shut their doors; if local merchants, who typically take leadership roles in the community and personally invest in the community’s future weren’t so readily displaced by mega stores; if small businesses weren’t prematurely handicapped by lack of credit and regulatory overhead, then we would have an economic robustness which would render our lamentations mute. I don’t know what the answer is on a macro level. I only know that a community prospers not from increased taxation (although at this point that is needed) but by putting people to work in jobs that generate sustainable local income and wealth. I’d like to hear a lot more about how as a community, as a state and as a nation we can revitalize our productive spirit and capability and then maybe this talk of taxation won’t seem like such a one-sided burden.”

☞ Amen. I don’t purport to have all the answers, either. But one way to create future economic strength is to consume less now and invest in education and infrastructure for later – which is what a shift to somewhat higher taxes can help to do. Another is to improve the nation’s health and the effectiveness of its health care system. Encouraging energy efficiency and conservation and reducing our reliance on imported oil will help, as will encouraging the scientific breakthroughs that will lead to the industries of tomorrow. Winding down the expense of our two wars will help. Getting credit flowing again will help. Importing less and exporting more will help.

It’s going to be a long process, but at least we’ve begun moving in the right direction on pretty much all fronts. Hats off to the Apples and Googles and biotech firms and Caterpillars – and farmers and Hollywood and others – who will be selling the world things the world wants from us, so we, in turn, will have the dough to buy things we need.

 

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