This first year of the Barack Obama presidency has been spent setting the stage for the what’s to come. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are far from over, but they seem to have faded in the popular consciousness, but not for the men and women overseas fighting, their families here at home, those trapped in the war zone and the drain on our treasury. By the end of next year, we hope and pray that the president’s plan for disengagement will succeed and we will begin to see the end of this military adventure.
The global-warming crisis is the biggest threat to people around the world and it will only be worse next year, continuing to cause death by drought, flood and famine, and causing mass migrations as people move to escape rising sea levels and find food, water and resources. The just concluded United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen has been criticized as producing no set goals for nations to achieve, but they will have another chance to set definitive timetables in Mexico at the end of next year.
For me, one of the most disheartening scenes to watch this year has been what has been called the health care debate, but which has devolved into the shameless purchase of the government by the pharmaceutical and health industrial complex.
In November of 2008 we wrote of President Obama, “The leniency shown to the turncoat Senator Joe Lieberman should also not be misconstrued as weakness. As distressing as it appears to some Obama supporters, they should keep in mind Godfather Vito Corleone saying ‘There may come a day I will ask you for a favor.’ Joe will be granting Obama favors many times in many ways for supporting him to remain as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.” Boy, were we wrong. It has been a sorry sight to see Senator Lieberman imposing his will on the country by demanding that there be no public option in the health care bill despite the polls saying the majority of people want it, and the facts showing how much money it would save. Either Senator Lieberman double-crossed the president or Obama knew Lieberman’s position all along, but was never going to push for a public option anyway. The wiping out of the public option, and the non-consideration of a single-payer system in any form, is a triumph of money over people, and will result in more deaths by non-treatment, 45,000 last year and a population forced to pay for the profits and administrative costs of the health care industry. All of those brightly painted insurance company RV’s we see with the workers setting up tables on the street are paid for by health insurance premiums and they have nothing to do with health care, only trolling for customers at our expense.
But money saved by the people, is money lost as far as the insurance companies are concerned and they are not having it and neither will their minion in the halls of congress, cementing the perception that we have the best democracy money can buy.
So now we are saddled with supporting the lifestyles of the rich by being forced to select which crook to allow to pick our pockets. And while these corporate welfare addicts are making out beautifully, we find that Black businesses are being shut out of the stimulus dollars at the same time their communities are suffering the highest unemployment rates.
We always understood that the last thing a Black president would do is show favoritism to the Black community, but after receiving over 90% of the Black vote we did expect something approaching fairness from this administration. To be so wrong on this item is particularly painful.
They say it takes miles to bring an ocean-going oil tanker to a stop and I bet that’s a lot like changing the habits of a bureaucracy the size of the federal government, so I guess the president could be cut a little slack. Obama has a lot of work to do in this second year because if the Black community has to endure another year like his first, the lesson he will leave us with is that having a Black president may be good for the soul, but it’s the effect on the pocketbook and the dinner table that will be the ultimate judge. May you have a merry Christmas and a happy Kwanzaa.