Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fourth of July, 2011

Technically, I am a day early. Once the Fourth of July was a holiday. Now it is a long weekend. For a while last week, it looked like it was going to be a winter holiday complete with cold and rain. Now it has warmed up considerably. Better for watching fireworks displays and back yard barbecue. I am engaging in neither--will probably watch the Capitol Fourth special on PBS.

I love red, white and blue not only for the signal of patriotism that they bring to mind but because they are a gorgeous color combination. My knitting project is a red, white and blue lap throw designed to be sized for use by a wheelchair user, like me. (Will post soon.)

It is difficult to get excited about red, white and blue, in the patriotic sense, this year, because the economy is still such a mess and so many other problems abound, here and abroad.

It is also difficult not to be cynical about patriotism because there has been so much co-opting of it by politicians serving their own interests and not the common good.

The spectacle of California's annual budget debacle, which occurs ominously close to the Fourth of July each year, was mitigated by the fact of a signed budget. It would have been a better budget if the sales tax and vehicle registration taxes had been extended.

A total government melt-down at the Federal level looms large and threatening if the debt ceiling is not raised. This must be done. I am disgusted by the posturing of politicians who threaten the well-being of every one of us by their blustering.

Social Security and Medicare, the biggest fuller of budget deficits, could, I believe, be fully funded, with a small increase in payroll tax or getting rid of the cap on the amount of income that is taxed. (In other words, tax all of it--the percent might actually decline.) What a federal budget drain could be eliminated if we would just pay for what we need! Instead, we cut providers payments and threaten deeper cuts and changes in these programs. We have a government that creates dependency and then threatens to pull the programs away--not a great model of a "social contract".

We then feel helpless to do anything about it, although we can do more than we think by participating in government. Voting, writing letters, joining caucuses and action groups, setting up new co-coalitions are all things that we can do.

It's also a good time to think about buying American, and buying small. Patronizing local businesses and helping to set up more. How can we invest in one another, not in giant corporations?

2011 is such a time of discouragement and disgruntlement with our economy and our government that it is difficult to feel celebratory. Maybe we need to look to the Founding Fathers, who got together and did something about it.

What can we do after the bunting comes down and flags are put away and grills are cleaned? Let's make something together--a more civil, decent, healthier and more economically viable America.

I hope so. I think we still can. After we give thanks for the Declaration of Independence and for our freedoms and our democracy, lets get involved in it again.

I am grateful today to have the Fourth of July to celebrate. I am grateful too for beautiful weather, for a friend who is expected this afternoon and for friends who visited on Friday. Grateful, for the opportunities to think about what can be done and hopeful that more will be accomplished.

Today, this eve of the Fourth of July, I am asking myself what more can I do, how can I become more involved?

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