Sunday, September 14, 2008

on "reform" vs. "change"

We all know that Washington must change. What we may fully understand is that our view of the world must change as well. There is no room left in today's world for the shibboleths of the past. If we don't fully grasp the world in which we live, then we will be doomed to lose it. Some of us may say we already live in a two-tiered world: people like John McBush who believe that we can ignore the technology, ignore the changes forced upon us by technology, ignore the changes that will occur when global warming creates a world without us, ignore the changes in biology that the next century will bring. We already, for instance, have medical technology that will enable many of us to live longer and put more strain on medical and financial worlds, while not really having a much better life in the long run. But even more so, as I've said before, we face significant changes in homo sapiens over the next century: gene manipulation for certain traits and to cure genetic diseases and other things too strange to come to mind. What will happen when the people living in the coastal areas of the U.S. move to the central cities, when Denver becomes the capital because politicians don't want to have to wear scuba masks to move in D.C.? What will happen when the island nations in the Pacific become unlivable? When New York is underwater so far that Wall Street has to move out? When the people of Bangladesh and other Monsoon countries find themselves having to move out of their national boundaries or drown? What about those things that change that are unexpected? I was born before computers and television, before jet planes and super highways, before instantaneous communication around the world, before cell phones and photo exchanges on the Internet, and long before the Internet. Many of these things were not even thought of when I was born. This is not the world of 1900. It is a totally different world and yet we like to react to it the same way. Now we have the great tunnel in Europe that may tell us about the origin of the universe. And we have some people who still don't accept evolution although there is no other scientific argument.

Now we have a presidential race in which "change" has been a key issue. Obama and the Democrats realized for the start that this was the world we would need, a changed world. Now McBush has picked it up. But recently he seems to have been modifying that with "reform." You can reform the current system which means changing the atmosphere but not the policies or you can change the system which means accepting more meaningful symbols. For instance, McCain and Agnew-Palin keep talking about tax cuts for everybody, but as is usual with the Republicans, they mean tax cuts that will give most of us a few hundred dollars, but give the wealthiest thousands. This is change? If a person doesn't know how many houses he has, what can we think of him? He didn't say five, omitting rentals, which would be reasonable. He said he didn't know. He thinks you have to have $5 million to be rich. He seems to think that life is for the rich. And he would continue to send our disposable government income to Iraq. I'm not sure this is either reform or change.


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