Monday, August 25, 2008


Lately there's been a lot of pressure on Obama to stop dealing in airy-fairy generalities and visions of sugarplums and start laying out some specifics. Previously, I've observed tht every time he got specific about something (FISA, faith based initiatives, offshore drilling) I just got more and more pissed off.

Then, in yesterday's New York Times Magazine, I read David Leonhardt's article on Obama's approach to economics. If Leonhardt's take is accurate (and he's usually quite dependable), Obama might be more in line with my thinking than I previously suspected.

He certainly agrees that Reaganomics went entirely overboard in the area of deregulation, and that government needs to assert more control over the private sector (especially if government is expected to come to the rescue when it screws up.) His tax plan is designed to redistribute the wealth -- maybe not as fast or as far as an old pinko like me might like, but way beyond anything either Clinton proposed.

His proposed health care plan puts government into direct competition with private insurers, and counts on market forces to bring the private companies into line. Personally, I don't see why he thinks it's necessary to create a whole new agency when it would be so much easier to let employers and individuals buy into Medicare, but if he manages to get his plan past the hoards of lobbyists lined up against it, it will be an enormous step forward.

In short, I'm feeling encouraged -- but I'm wondering how much of the above will be clarified at the convention, starting later today. As little as I care to watch infomercials, I suppose I feel obligated to catch as much of it as I can stand -- although I wish the published schedule were more precise regarding time slots for various speakers and superfluous bullshit. I'm sure they have it planned out to the minute, if not the second -- but I guess admitting that would make the proceedings seem less [insert gagging sounds] "spontaneous."

Naturally, I'm pleased by the choice of Biden for the number two spot -- especially since I would have happily supported him in a run for the number one spot. I sincerely hope his role in an Obama administration will be equal to Cheney's role in the Bush administration -- just minus the evil.

On a totally different subject, and completely off-topic for this blog:

I'm with those college presidents -- by all means, lower the legal drinking age to 18. Young people old enough to die for their country in the military should be old enough to legally get liquored up before they head down to the recruiting office to enlist! If the MADD ladies are truly serious about reducing traffic fatalities, they should agitate to raise the driving age to twenty-one -- or maybe twenty-eight or thirty for males. Then again, a young person old enough to drive a tank through Baghdad probably should be allowed to drive a Chevy through Jersey City.

Seriously, though -- I'm old enough so that I was allowed to drink (and be drafted) at 18, but couldn't vote until I was 21. From what I recall of the time the laws were changed, the traffic fatalities were greater in the states that limited boozing to 21-year-olds than in the states with lower age restrictions. The reason was that the youth from the former states were driving long distances to the latter states to get drunk, and then crashing their cars on the way home. It wasn't raising the drinking age that made the difference, it was making it uniform across state lines.

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