Monday, January 5, 2009
New Year - What Does That Mean?
Yesterday we undecorated, packed everything up and put it back in the attic. Today we cleaned house and restored the normal look. I now have fresh flowers on the table to go with the snow outside. We had 4 inches of new snow yesterday evening. It was beautiful last night at 11:00, but this morning it had all turned to slush as the weather warmed up. Seattle is back to normal. Rain is on the way. Today is the real first day of the new year. The holidays are over, kids are back to school, those who work are facing a five day work week, and government will soon again be filling the halls of congress and state legislatures. Confirmation hearings will begin in the other Washington. Will it be the same old partisan bickering? What will 2009 bring? How will it be new? Yes, there will soon be a new president and a new administration. Many have expressed hope in the changes that will bring. I myself have a sense of anticipation, but it's an uneasy anticipation. After the holidaze hiatus, my brain is waking back up to politics and economics and world affairs. But here's my question - How will we achieve newness when we bring so much old baggage? Scanning the newspaper this morning, I found news about the economic stimulus proposal. Forty percent of the cost will come in tax cuts. Obama wants to quiet conservative congressional skeptics who fear large government spending packages. Is our president-elect compromising too much for the sake of unity? Will the government spending programs be monitored so the money really goes to infrastructure and job creation instead of being wasted? Aren't the same spenders mostly still in power? I don't like tax cuts. I think it sends the message that we can just keep on charging it and not pay for what we buy. Our credit economy has gotten us into this mess. Do we want to encourage more? On the business page the first of ten items of a list of economic advice to people was to resolve to trim spending by 15 percent. That's great if you were spending with a credit card and not saving, but what if your income is stable and your indebtedness is low? If I cut back on spending, who loses their job, whose business goes under? If you still have money, shouldn't you still spend it? Did anyone watch It's a Wonderful Life in the last few weeks? The lesson there was pretty clear - don't run on the banks. Don't panic! Internationally, I read that Sunni terrorists were blowing themselves up in Baghdad in order to kill Shiite pilgrims coming to the shrine of a saint. Of course the holy season is to honor a grandson of Muhammad, who's killing started the division of Sunni and Shiite in the first place. A saint to one is a monster to another. It never stops. We are no longer talking about withdrawal from Iraq. It will happen. But now we are getting sucked into the trap of Afghanistan. What will that cost in lives and treasure? And straighten me out if I'm wrong, but is it really that important to get Osama bin Laden, if he is even still alive? When is enough killing enough? Israel and the Palestinians have the world watching and worrying again. I have yet to sort out that situation enough to decide if any party there is right enough to outweigh the wrong. On the one hand it seems simple enough to say to Hamas, "Stop lobbing rockets into Israel". But it's the Sunni/Shiite thing all over again! Old hatreds never die. Hamas is a collection of "crime families" who don't take orders. Instability threatens the whole region. Old baggage in a new year. And to top it off, our Comcast cable service has been telling us we will be fine when the TV system switches over to digital this year. We won't need to do anything. Today we received the boxes Comcast sent us to hook up for the transition. The best advice I have seen is to look out for your friends and family and neighbors. And be prepared to help hook up the elderly neighbor lady's TV. My hope for 2009? That we can learn from our mistakes.