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Friday 20th Oct 2017

I suppose there is no secret that I am a Berkeley hippie, which means my politics do run to the left. But, make no mistake, I love my country. My parents fled the holocaust--although they met in the United States--in the 1930's and carved out a wonderful, safe and comfortable life in America, the land of opportunity.

So I am more than mindful of the special possibilities our country offers, pretty much unlike any other country in the land.

And, as a stat head, as well as someone who is both curious and hopefully conscious, like our former Roto partner Nate Silver--who used to be in Tout Wars and now drives the political site 538.com--well, I follow our political machinations closely. Politics is interesting. It is frustrating. And in some ways it is not unlike fantasy games.

As I watched the march towards yesterday's mid-term elections, I did have some fears about the Tea Party and what was predicted to be a Republican sweep in both the Congress and the Senate.

Like many on the left, I am not anti-Republican in principle for I think one of the things that make our country strong and work is our diversity. The more perspectives participating, ideally, the better the resulting decisions.

What I have had trouble with the past few years is the vehemence by which the conservatives criticize the Obama administration and its agenda without offering anything substantive as an alternative.

Additionally, when there is that blanket statement about Obama's failed economic policies, I wonder how many folks consider the following:

  • With the stimulus everyone's taxes went down. This was an under the radar move, as to make the move quick, cheap, and immediate, when the stimulus was passed, the amount of Federal Withholding was reduced for everyone. So, no $300 rebate checks like under President Bush (cutting those checks and sending them out cost money and took some time).
  • Though unemployment is indeed still hovering around 10 percent, when Obama took over we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now we are losing roughly 50,000 jobs a month. Still not ideal, but, if you can count, that is an improvement and net gain of 750,000 jobs a month, which is not bad.
  • Growth within private industry has now increased for 14 consecutive months.
  • Virtually all the TARP money has been repaid to the government (meaning us, the taxpayers).
  • The Big Three automakers--close to bankruptcy and receivership just two years ago--are working towards financial solvency and stability. The automobile industry is a huge engine in driving our economy, and the truth is Ford, GM, and Chrysler allowed themselves to fall by the economic wayside by arrogance and lack of foresight, as the Japanese and other foreign car companies focused on efficiency and safety and economy (and luxury) while Detroit wanted to produce trucks that made money and guzzled gas. As with any economic structure where resources--like oil--are involved, this was simply short-sighted.

Furthermore, I do understand the frustration of our citizenry who are angry at our politicians. But, the bottom line is, they are politicians and expecting an actual moral bottom line from any of them--Democratic or Republican--is probably a pipe dream. Because money is, whether we want to admit it or not, what drives the country. It is what drives politics. And, that is what drives being elected. So, there will always be special interests on both sides of the aisle as long as we stick to the system we have. It is a simple reality.

That said, I feel reassured with the rejection of a handful of candidates who lost last night. Sharon Angle. Joe Miller. Christine O'Donnell. And especially in California, where I live, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman.

When push came to shove, voters could simply not support these crusaders for very little beyond anger and hate. None had anything substantive to offer as part of a change, other than bad mouthing their opponents and distorting the truth, the constitution, or both.

True, the Republicans do now control Congress, but over the long haul what that really means is now John Boehner and Eric Cantor will actually have to draft bills to go to the Senate and President that show an earnest attempt to right our countries issues. But, it is not that the results of yesterday’s vote was any more a referendum for the right than it was a rubber stamp of the left. More so, it was a reflection of the anger, confusion, and uncertainty of just how we can proceed and retain out moniker as the land of opportunity that certainly benefitted my immigrant parents, and as a result, me.

In closing, I would like to draw this parallel, and remind us all that just as patience is critical in the fantasy baseball world, so is it with the kind of economic change and progress we face.

Say I lost my job a couple of years ago and had a medical emergency to boot, and somehow wound up with a personal debt of $100,000, and all my credit cards maxed out. I did not lose my house, and after 15 months, I managed to find another job which paid close to the salary I made at the job I lost.

How long would it take for me to get even with my credit cards and that huge debt? Six months? A year? Two years?

Realistically, it would take more like five to seven years because in addition to paying off my debt, I still would have to deal with my regular monthly expenses.

Now, multiply that number of one person in this situation--me--by say half our population, or 200,000 people.

Realistically, does anyone really think that within six months of a changed economic plan and positive related numbers, our budget and national debt and personal wealth would suddenly be restored in six months? In a year? In two years? Or, more likely over five to seven years?

If you think any time frame less than that handful of years, well, I am looking to play in a fantasy league with you. Because in addition to making the right picks for your team, one has to have the patience to let his or her players assemble the stats anticipated (meaning I would have traded with you for Troy Tulowitzki in May and you would have lost out on his stellar final six weeks). It also suggests I would have finished ahead of you in the standings.

The thing is, this is a big league--that is America--in which we live and play. Nothing happens overnight. And, keeping one's eye on the future is everything.

After yesterday, I think I can keep doing that. I hope you can too.





0 #2 Todd Zola 2010-11-03 17:30
To continue the baseball metaphor, patience is facilitated when waiting on a plan to manifest. I am willing to wallow in the depth of the standings for a few years in keeper and dynasty leagues if I am in the midst of a plan that will allow me to be competitive for several years. Of course, the analogy is not perfect, the well-being of our Nation should not be cyclical, but the point is patience is so much easier if you feel confident it will be rewarded.

I readily admit that I do not follow the political scene with the vim and vigor as some. I feel I am informed more than adequately to make decisions, and indeed spend extra time learning about the issues/candidates that I sense may have a more direct impact on my personal well-being.

With that said, my "issue" with the 2010 elections had mostly to do with the saying "don't bring me a problem, bring me a solution." Most of us have heard that in a team-building speech, etc. My sense was the agenda for some was strictly to make the next 2 years for President Obama extremely difficult, with the objective it would be his final 2 years. Perhaps that is a noble enough objective for some, but for me, I want more. What are YOU going to do. You have the keys, someone else can't drive. Where are YOU going to take us?

Maybe I missed it, but I failed to see the destination.
0 #1 Jason Mastrodonato 2010-11-03 16:17
Well, when Obama took over we were also in the middle of an epic stock market meltdown and the economy was basically at its lowest point. There was really no where to go but up for any semi-intelligent person who entered office, so I'm not sure how much I'd directly relate to him and his policies.

As for the Tea Party, I think it will be interesting to see how they work with the Republicans. I think the focus on fixing national debt is always good to have, but we'll have to see how they handle things in office before we can make judgments for 2012.

I think it's a stretch though to say anyone isn't happy with Obama's progress with the economy would surely lose in fantasy baseball. I see what you're saying, about patience, but there are a lot more reasons one might be unhappy with the economy and its progress than simply because he/she isn't patient.

Oh well, I'm just happy for all the children in Massachusetts, who will still have access to a great education after Question 3 was defeated, keeping state sales tax at 6.25 percent. Dropping it to 3 percent would have lost $2.5 billion in government funding and killed the school systems, with expected layoffs as high as 30 percent in public jobs.

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