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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Giving liberalism a bad name

The Nation offers a few solutions for our current economic ills:
Penalize carbon use by taxing gas so that it's $4 a gallon regardless of market price, curbing gas guzzlers and promoting efficient public transportation.
Or better yet, take in earnest that insincere MasterCard ad, and consider all the things money can't buy (most things!). Change some habits and restore the balance between body and spirit. Refashion the cultural ethos by taking culture seriously....
It's obvious that the "progressives" who write this tripe have never been poor. I have.

Poor people don't want to hear about the alleged virtues of $4 a gallon gas. Unlike the author of this article, poor people know what it's like to spend one full hour on a bus, each and every day, standing next to rheumy alkies and wheezing pre-verts, just to go to a job located ten miles away. By all means, improve public transportation. But those who don't use it should not romanticize it.

And don't you dare spew that pap about the-best-things-in-life-are-free to someone facing homelessness -- not if you value your unbroken nose. "Spirit" is beyond restoration when the cupboard is bare. The job of the true liberal is to replenish that cupboard -- period. Let each citizen work out the rest for himself or herself.

Speaking as an artist and a lover of fine music, I am firmly of the opinion that much of what passes for "culture" in this nation is a racket. When thousands of children go hungry each night, there's no excuse for spending taxpayer loot on conceptual art pieces created by craftsmanship-free poseurs who churn out crap that only a few fruitcakes in Greenwich Village would even pretend to like.

On the other hand, I could support funding for real art. How about a Jack Kirby Museum of American Illustration, located on the Mall in D.C.? You guys down with that?

On a related note: Quincy Jones is going to ask Obama to create a Secretary of Arts.
Sorry Joe, can't follow you there. When you say the cupboard must be full, that begs the question, how big is the cupboard ? Won't it keep getting bigger the fuller it gets ? I understand your wariness against this sort of rhetoric, but surely there's no need to invoke the spectre of Cosette as soon as people are saying that, you know, maybe one car and one TV may be enough.

For the record, here in Germany I take the underground one full hour a day to go to work. And I like it. The US have got to go in this direction. If workplaces are too far, relocalize workplaces, but don't encourage the status quo. It's not viable. And it's precisely what Obama will be trying to do.
Vince, Germany is WAY different. Everything is much closer together in your country. The layout of your cities is completely unlike the situation here.

You cannot simply decree like the Lord of the Universe: "Relocalize workplaces." It cannot be done!

My car is broken at present, so I'm relying on public transpo. Do you know where the nearest bus stop is? A mile and a half from where I'm staying. The nearest grocery store is further than THAT. And the weather has been wet. My legs are feeling it. Public transportation is such a hassle that those who rely on it have no energy left to do anything else beyond the getting there and the coming back.

And don't assume your Lord of the Universe stance as you pronounce "Move elsewhere." I'm damned lucky to have a roof over my head. Lots of people don't. The homeless are numerous here, as they are not in Germany, and they are treated with far less mercy than you would think possible.
I live 1/4 mile from the nearest bus stop. The closest bus stop to my job is 1/2 mile between my office and the transit stop.
LUCKILY,I live only a mile from my office and can walk. So,even w/public transportation,sometimes it's ridiculous to take it.
Joseph, I lived in a small-ish college town for years without a car. I remember being thrilled when plastic grocery bags came out (this was a LONG time ago) because carrying the groceries (one mile) home was so much easier. I was occasionally mocked for choosing "plastic" (this was a very "hip" college town) but, which was worse, driving to the store and choosing "paper" or walking and choosing "plastic"?
I agree Joe. These people do not realize how unfair this tax would be. Disproportionate.
Public transportation is fine in larger cities where even a cab ride will get you out of a tight spot if necessary and where subway stations are available. But anywhere else, there is little public transportation. And what there is can be frustrating. If you miss a stop, you have to wait an hour or maybe it only comes in the morning and comes back at night. So if your working hours aren't close, you end up wasting quite a few hours for nothing. On top of that, connection points aren't reliable. If you're lucky, they call ahead so you can make your transfer. But most of the time, you end up at the connection point with nothing to do for an hour.

Screw people who say you should use public transportation. It's frustrating. No, it's torture. It really is a shock to the conscience.
I don't know about a Jack Kirby Museum of American Illustration. But I think that a Jack Kirby wing that covers the post-WWW-II years at... say... a Thomas Nast Museum of American Illustration would be just perfect!
Where I live, city of 33,000 (county capitol and part of a 'tri-city area' of 122,000), the nearest bus stop is about 100 miles away.

I live about six miles from the grocery store. I can call for a private shuttle service, which will pick me up after I walk 4 miles and take me to the store, after which it will drop me four miles from home, all for the low price of $68.

We have five college campuses, including an Embry-Riddle Aeronautics Unversity. We do not have a single public bus.

As we have a major veterans' hospital, we have a large population of homeless vets. They mostly live in the forest, where the temps are far below freezing at night all winter. If one has an appointment at the hospital, I guess he'd better be well enough to walk twenty miles.
The planet cannot sustain the population level it has. We cannot produce enough to support all these people.

Since population control is not working (i.e., too many men insist on forcing too many women to have too many children) A LOT of people are going to die, and not just in Africa.
Eric, I'm a big Nast fan. And I'll bet that Kirby was too. Done and done.

Notice how nobody took umbrage at my "racket" comment?

The Nast Museum of American Illustration could pay for itself.

First step: Chuck the pretentious crap that nobody likes out of the Modern Art building of the National Gallery of Art. (The building that Pei designed.) Keep the Calder mobile. It's fun.

Put all the crap up for auction. Let the blue bloods pay through the nose for it.

Now that you've got a half-billion or so to play with, buy up some real art. Nast. Gibson. Howard Pyle. Maxfield Parrish. John R. Neil. N.C Wyeth. Flagg. Eisner. Kirby. Neil Adams. Jim Steranko.

Actually, there is a museum like this in Rhode Island -- the National Musuem of American Illustration. Just move it, and expand it to include more contemporary illustrators.
Joseph, Boston has (or at least used to have) a "museum of bad art" --- most of it pulled from the dumpsters outside art schools at the end of the semester.

You post is so completely dead on. My car is also out of commission (not to mention snowed in) but I'm one of the lucky ones. The transit system is only a block from my house (and the grocery story just a block beyond that). So I have the "best case" scenario, and a temporary situation, but it is eye-opening what many people have to deal with on an ongoing basis. Bad weather (extra bundles of clothes and umbrellas) hauling groceries, dodging cars, navigating ice, and all that extra time, planning and waiting.

When I get my car operational again, I do hope to continue some of the benefits....more walking, less buying...but I can't even imagine what people in less urban areas have to go through without vehicles. We definitely need to rethink and improve public transportation.

And, oh! I think a Sec. of the Arts is a fantastic idea. Hands on arts. In schools, prisons, hospitals, retirement homes, you name it. It empowers people.
THe public bus system here in Milwaukee remains fairly good, despite (the Republican/pretend Independent/Bush's state campaign co-chair) County Exec. Scott Walker's attempts to kill it by raising prices and cutting service. Still, those attempts are making it harder financially and less convenient in terms of scheduling for the poor to get to their jobs without getting a car (which is his plan, of course). The public shuttle bus for Quad Graphics - one of the last stops for those in need of permanent work - was recently discontinued.
You're right Joe, unfortunately the Nation represents the same sector of the left that Obama panders to: people who never have been - and likely never will be - poor. (Try having to sell you blood and steal food in order to live sometime.) A much better idea would be raising the taxes on the wealthy and big corporations to fund it (a 91% top tax rate didn't hurt the economy in the 50s and 60's; a 50% one won't hurt it now).
Even temporary price-fixing on necessities would be better than what the Nation proposes; at the very least, you'd get a lot fewer dead people.
On the museum idea...a few years back, our local art museum had the Masters of American Comics exhibition for a few months: Canff, McKay, Gould, Herriman, Kirby, Crumb, and many more, over a hundred years of comic art. Pretty amazing stuff (one part that really struck me were some unsanitized portrayals of combat actually done during the Korean War(!)). I would love to see a whole permanent museum of need even to fund it, the gift shop would take care of that. :)

Sergei Rostov
Here's another thing to consider about mass transit. They are almost always funded at a local level. That means in places like Nevada, where I live, only Reno and Las Vegas have any kind of decent bus service. Carson City sort of has one, but it doesn't connect with Reno. There is no kind of commuter bus that brings people from the bedroom communities into Reno. The rural counties just don't have the money to put together a mass transit system. If Obama wants to create a system of national mass transit that will serve the rural areas of the country, then have at it. Until then, The Nation can kiss my ass. We who live out here are stuck in our cars and $4 a gallon gas just about killed us out here, and will finish us off if or when it rises to that level again. And don't tell me to move. Houses are not selling out here. I'd do it if I could.
I'm in Los Angeles and use public transit. It works for going to and from work. We have a subway, numerous light rail rapids and buses that run on natural gas. Hope that a large part of Obama's stimulous is to bring programs like this to all of the US. Any college town should have a bus system, and hopefully will. Putting in light rail, which runs on electricity, is something that should be done everywhere.
I don't drive and I have arthritis. So I order my groceries online. Around here, ( Philly) they will bring what you order to your door, place it where you want, for a 12.OO fee. It is soooo worth it because we get litter and can goods etc. Also I find we eat out alot less since there is always something to eat in the house. It's been a god sent for me
This is it, the bottom line of the faux progressive-Obama movement: it's about image and Feeling Good About Me, not about economic or social justice. I would be curious, deeply curious, to see the Villagers have to take the bus and scrounge the sales at Safeway to make ends meet. Then haul back a couple of bags and walk from the bus stop in god knows what weather at the end of the day when your feet and back hurt like hell. Knowing that you'll have to do it again in a couple of days because you don't have the strength to haul more than a little at a time.

This entitled arrogance is the essence of Nation magazine high-end progressivism these days.

There's a priggish, sanctimonious arrogance that underlies the Villagers' assumption that the people who don't live as well as they do somehow deserve their fate. Somehow, they did something to ward off the good fortune of the righteous. And that arrogance is the unspoken poison that continues to kill the American body politic.
I cut my driving way back when gas was so high and have maintained that level of driving now that it is less expensive. I can't use public transportation because I live in the country. Not everyone can or wants to live in a city.

There are alternative fuel sources we can seriously look at without suffering through outrageous prices on gas.

Mountain Sage
Artificially high gas prices will have an even more catastrophic effect on the poor because rising transportation costs result in higher food prices.
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