Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Musings

I’m home sick today with a brutal cough/cold combination sapping my energy. Even so, I must get my blogging fix and muse about current events:
  • Tax day has me thinking of my grandfather. As I’ve shared previously on this blog, my grandfather came to the United States just prior to Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland along with his six brothers. Years ago my Mom told me the story of when she teased my grandfather as he did the annoying grownup chore of completing his tax returns. My grandfather rebuked her and said, “I’m proud to pay my taxes in this country.” He genuinely believed it was his patriotic duty to contribute and he was not wealthy. I wonder what he would think of these “tea bagging” conservatives, especially the wealthy ones, who are so contemptuous of their civic obligations even as they claim superior patriotism to everyone else.
  • I too am opposed to the continued bailouts of fraudulent financial institutions. Indeed, outrage over the bailouts is something both liberals and conservatives share these days. Nonetheless, it is the conservatives who are promoting tax rebellions that engineered the very “starve the beast” deregulating crusade that facilitated our current economic calamity. With the private sector on life support after Wall Street’s transgressions it makes little sense to starve the only entity capable of stimulating the economy on a wide scale: our federal government.
  • Understandably, we Americans are fixated on our new young president. Yet, there is something rather egocentric about our obsession and I am as guilty of that as anyone. It is especially easy for Americans to forget that not everything in this world is about our politics, policies, priorities or perceptions. For example, Thailand has been rocked by anti-government protests in recent days. Today, Thailand’s government announced it has revoked the passport of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra after accusing him of encouraging the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship. Shinawatra was recently convicted of corruption and has been abroad since his 2006 deposition. Shinawatra has recently asked the United Front to practice nonviolence. Hopefully, a just resolution can be achieved in that troubled country with no more loss of life.
  • Regrettably, the daring rescue of Captain Richard Phillips by Navy Seals has not served as a deterrent as Somali pirates attacked another American cargo ship today. This particular ship was delivering needed food aid and far more than American ships are being targeted in this vast territory of maritime commerce. The Obama administration’s posture with respect to piracy has been firm yet measured. That will frustrate some but it's far better than exploiting the situation to irrationally escalate the “war on terror.”
  • The Obama administration is putting considerable diplomatic and military muscle to reinforce Pakistan against militant Islam. The conventional wisdom within America’s foreign policy establishment is that Pakistan is too important to fail. Yet it's the Pakistani government that appeased the Taliban and al Quaeda by allowing Sharia law to be imposed in the Swat Valley. American and NATO can only do so much to shape events there. If Pakistan’s government does fall to Islamic radicals what then? Would India occupy Pakistan with Washington’s blessing? How would China or India respond to that development?
  • Much of the diplomatic chatter with respect to an American-Iranian rapprochement is really about addressing common strategic interests along the Afghanistan-Pakistani corridor. The Bush administration failed to exploit Iranian misgivings about the Taliban and al Quaeda. President Obama is hoping to make up for lost time but time is running out. Ultimately, success is not contingent upon a military surge but the current diplomatic activity taking place. When factoring in the nuclear arsenals of Pakistan and India as well as the Chinese, Iranian and Russian interests at work, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seems almost trivial.

1 comment:

Col. B. Bunny said...

Being proud to pay one's taxes is admirable to the extent one's taxes go to fund demonstrably proper governmental functions and that they are reasonable. Your post assumes that there is no upper limit to the tax burden that patriotic citizens are expected cheerfully to shoulder and that only some kind of narrow minded, hateful conservative could possibly doubt the propriety of any expenditure dreamed up by our various legislatures.

Have you exhibited skepticism with respect to level of taxation and proper purpose elsewhere in your writings? Do you recognize anywhere else that we, who are blessed to live in our republic, cannot forever trust that transferring power to the government will never lead to a catastrophic loss of liberty?

Where is the tipping point beyond which there can be no retreat, or do you not recognize even the possibility of one?

Inquiring minds, etc.

Teeny bit of sarcasm.