Tuesday , May 21 2024

Election 2004 Debate 2: Natalie Davis and Mike Kole

Not that you would know it from mainstream media coverage, but George W. Bush and John Kerry aren’t the only candidates for president in the November election.

Tonight’s debate at Blogcritics will feature two of our very own contributers: “proud to be a liberal” Natalie Davis of All Facts and Opinions, an independent who is supporting Green party candidate David Cobb, and hoosier Libertarian and local politician Mike Kole, who is supporting Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik.

We will be discussing Human Rights/Equality, the war in Iraq, Global terrorism,the economy, health care, the war on drugs and job outsourcing. There are sure to be some surprises and we look forward to focusing the spotlight on these two alternative political parties that are often overlooked, ignored or misunderstood by the media and the public at large.

I want to thank both Mike and Natalie in advance for their participation and the knowledge they will bring to this debate.

Natalie Davis runs her blog All Facts and Opinions and is a regular contributor to Blogcritics.org. When Natalie isn’t busy being a reporter/editor, she pours her heart into promoting pacifism and is a passionate activist for progressive causes including equal rights, protecting the environment, being a responsible world citizen, and a great mother to her two children.

As a “progressive” thinker Natalie has spent a good deal of time writing about what she feels is the current administration’s pattern of deception and incompetence. Natalie is no shrinking violet when it comes to voicing her opinions about the political issues of the day. For fun, Natalie enjoys lavishing virtual kisses on her object of affection, Hugh Jackman. YUMMY!

Mike Kole, proprietor of his blog Kole Hard Facts, and is currently the Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County and candidate for Secretary of State 2006. Mike works as a land surveyor and utilizes his face time with the community to prove that Liberatarians are also civil servants.

Thanks to them both and we look forward to a fascinating exchange of ideas tonight!

Natalie Davis: Hi Mike

Mike Kole: I’m in!

Mike Kole: Hi Natalie!

Moderator: Any questions before we begin? So, in this case we are doing ladies first, since Mike is outnumbered

Natalie Davis: Mike, we are all equal here. Gender is meaningless.

Mike Kole: well, democracy is often little more than two wolves and a sheep conspiring over what to have for dinner…

Natalie Davis: That’s an apt description of the Dem/GOP debates…

Moderator: well, then let’s getting ready to RUMBLE!!

Natalie Davis: Nonviolently, of course

Mike Kole: of course

Moderator: One thing that Libertarians and Green Party members seem to agree on ( in theory) is equality. Equality in it’s most basic form – no one should be denied or discriminated against based on their race, religion, sex, disability or age any resources or opportunities afforded in this country. That is a pretty important similarity. How do your individual parties feel this value should be enforced? And how do you feel you party differs from the two other parties (Republicans and Democrats)?

Natalie Davis: The Green Party differs from the Republicans and Democrats on everything. We are about America being what it claims to be: a land of justice for all, a land that stands for the ideals inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. The Dems and GOPs seem to stand for greed for a particular segment of society, be it monetary greed or greed over who gets to mandate social behavior based on their religious beliefs.

Equality is the one principle that reigns over all. In order to achieve such a thing under Green philosophy, we must create a society that is in harmony with the planet, with other nations, with other people. That means taking care of the poor and helpless here and abroad, protecting and living in harmony with the environment, and achieving peace with one another.

Enforcing it? That’s the difficulty. We also believe in freedom. You can’t force people to care about the planet or about other people. We can, however, create a government that will serve the people and protect the planet. We can enforce laws that will make sure that people are served and that the environment is protected. We can enforce laws that make sure we are all equal under law.

Mike Kole: For Libertarians, it all boils down to individual rights. After all, any group is only a collection of individuals, and if a government is incapable of defending and preserving the rights of any individuals within a society, it is certainly ill-equipped to do the same for any collection of individuals. We believe in equality in the way the founders of this country expressed equality, but failed to practice it: that all are created equally as human beings in terms of status.
A Libertarian government would actively defend individuals against exclusion from participation in all areas of public life.

Moderator: So you both think that the government should play an active role in defending an individuals right to be equal?

Mike Kole: to be treated equally under the law- yes.

Natalie Davis: Absolutely. As we learned during the civil-rights era in the 1960s, people won’t do it on their own.

Mike Kole: the importance of the defense of individual rights can be seen in my little Franklin quote about democracy, Jim Crow type laws can be perfectly democratic.

Moderator: So it should be handled legislatively – assuming we are all given equality – that when it is denied, government steps in and hands down whatever appropriate punishment for denying that equality?

Mike Kole: if a majority vote on Jim Crow was taken in the South in the 50’s or 60s, the outcome would obviously have benn in favor of those codes

Moderator: how can you be sure that individual judges (with their own respective philosophies) will uphold these laws?

Moderator: I guess what I am saying, is that in essence, at least under the law, we are considered equal, so why is it that we are not equal still?

Natalie Davis: But many of us are not equal under law. Look at gays and marriage.

Moderator: Good example. Does the Green party uphold the right of individuals to marry whatever gender they choose – does the Libertarian?

Natalie Davis: Legislative approaches are sometimes the best. But sometimes, judicial approaches must be taken. As Mike said in his Jim Crow example, sometimes legislatures do immoral things. Absolutely. The Green Party is loudly vocal in its call for marriage equality.

Mike Kole: you can’t really be sure that individual judges will uphold the law. They sure didn’t throughout our nation’s history, and besides, judges are elected by majorities, so you are back to that again. But there is the appeals process, and the Supreme Court is there, and if they are principled, they will uphold these rights. Again, we arrive at individual rights. When there is a dominant culture that insists that the rights of *all* individuals are upheld, you can have a more equal society. Today’s dominant culture does not hold this view, and does not extend equal treatment under the law to same-sex partners.

Moderator: Does the Libertarian party uphold same-sex marriage?

Mike Kole: Not exactly. Libertarians believe that government has no business being in the business of marriage.

Moderator: How do they propose to legislate the marital contract as it applies to matters of economy? ie. division of property, rights to make choices for spouses etc.?

Mike Kole: We believe that is best handled by the various faiths and their denominations. Some will marry gay couples and some will not, with the outcome being that gay people can choose the faith of their choice and be married there, while people who do not believe in it can have their faith. A personal contract between two people is their business, and nobody else’s. Two people should be able to confer any benefits upon anyone they choose.

Moderator: Natalie, why do you think 9/11 happened and how would your party have confronted the situation?

Natalie Davis: September 11 happened for a number of reasons: Hatred, fear, despair. I lost friends that day — whatever the reasons behind this horrible event, I know that it was immoral and the pain of the tragedy will remain with me all the days of my life.

By uniting with the rest of the world, not falling into the trap of wanting revenge. The aftermath of 9/11 presented the US with an opportunity to increase good will between nations. Many Greens believe that going into Afghanistan was justified. If that is the case, the Bush Administration — and supportive Democrats — dropped the ball by making the finding of Osama bin Laden less of a priority in order to go into Iraq (which, in fact, was planned out before 9/11 occurred).

The Green approach would have been marked differently from the road taken.

With Afghanistan on the verge of elections, it is all too clear that the present administration goofed mightily by changing its focus. There have been improvements in Afghanistan, no doubt. But security is still the primary problem there and the primary source of the nation’s fear. By keeping its eyes on finishing the job there first, the US would have done better by Afghanistan and by its so-called war on terror.

Mike Kole: Libertarian foreign policy mirrors the advice George Washington gave as he left the Presidency, “Peaceful commerce with all nations, entangling alliances with none”. We believe that if the US had followed this kind of foreign policy after the Marshall Plan was working, there would not have been the first WTC attacks, let alone 9/11. Isolationist? Yes, but observe that terrorists do not strike at neutral Switzerland. Libertarians also believe in an extremely strong national defense, with heavy emphasis on readiness to defend our borders. Assuming that 9/11 happened, once the first plane hit a tower, I would like to believe that we would have been prepared to intercept the remaining planes.

Like the Greens, most Libertarians believe that the hunt for Osama bin Laden was completely justified in the quest for justice; and that Iraq was nothing more than military adventurism. We would have hunted bin Laden, and stayed out of Iraq.

Moderator: Natalie/Mike (in that order), do you think there is any possible way to handle the Iraq conflict now by your individual parties standards? Are we obligated to provide the road to democracy now that we have invaded their country?

Natalie Davis: Now that US troops are there, we have the responsibility to repair what we broke. We must rebuild the nation and prepare the people for true self determination and democracy. But we have to be willing to listen to the real Iraqi people, not just those appointed and approved by the Bush Gang. We must find out how they want us to help them create the nation *they* want. And we must restore US credibility with other nations in hopes of enlisting their aid in doing what needs to be done peacefully and with a goal of removing US troops — and influence — ASAP. Clarification: ASAP means when the job is reasonably done.

Mike Kole: It can be handled, but it’s now very delicate. We’ve turned that country upside-down, and where we have an obligation is in restoring the infrastructure. Democracy is not something that can be passed out to people standing in a line. A democratic movement is necessary, and there is no sign that the Iraqi people want democracy. I believe we do the restoral and get out of Iraq, not necessarily ASAP, but when the job is reasonably done. Even then, I think that there will be huge instability there, but at least less animosity towards the United States.

Moderator: Natalie/Mike, do you think the U.S. as a superpower, is under an obligation to contain and eliminate nuclear proliferation (or any WMD) and how should it be handled when dealing with countries like N. Korea or Iran who are bent on obtaining or generating these WMDs?

Natalie Davis: The very idea is hypocritical. The US has WMDs. How dare it dictate what other nations have or don’t have? Is the assumption that the US is “good?” That’s an unfounded assumption.

The Green position is to work for disarmament around the globe. Period. The US is one of the few nations on earth that has — AND HAS USED — WMDs. What makes the world so sure that the US can be trusted with them any more than North Korea or Iraq — oops, it didn’t have any — or Iran?

Mike Kole: No. The US should heed the lessons of history and not try to be the world’s cop. Go to school on Britain’s experience, and you will see where we are headed. I believe that there was genuine belief among Republicans and Democrats that Iraq had WMDs, and this Iraq war was based on that belief. If you believe that the US has an obligation to contain WMDs in other nations, than war with North Korea and Iran is a certainty. That said, to be consistent, are we to remove WMDs from France, China and other nations, too?

Natalie Davis: Bravo.

Mike Kole: The role of diplomacy is to make sure that other nations do not wish to use their WMDs on your nation. The US has failed at diplomacy. The remedy is to give up the role of global policeman, and to allow other nations to excercise their sovereignty and determine for themselves whether or not it is in their best interest to produce WMDs. With respectful diplomacy and peaceful commerce, no *nation* will conclude that we need to be a target. Rogue individuals may continue to be a threat, but that’s a different topic.

Moderator: Correct me if I am wrong, but both parties implied message is that if the U.S. weren’t imposing imperialistic measures around the globe, then perhaps rogue nations wouldn’t exist, and if they did, they would be treated like aberrations by all nations and handled by a UN-like smackdown (sanctions, middle finger or a general snubbing)?

Mike Kole: thanks, Natalie!

Moderator: I am trying to understand these positions and on many levels that are similar and make a good deal of sense.

Natalie Davis: That’s correct, Dawn. The Green Party wants to see the UN become less of a US puppet/sycophant and more of a true partnership of countries that can effectively impose punishments — sanctions, middle finger, snubbing) on rogue nations. (done)

Natalie Davis: You’re welcome, Mike!

Mike Kole: China had been a rogue nation, but it has come to see that a better way of life is available for its people if they focus on peaceful commerce with the United States and other countries rather than building up a military to point at us.

Mike Kole: actually, I have more

Mike Kole: Think of the dead weight that is the cost of the military. We spend ungodly sums of money to station troops around the world, and to build weapons we hope to not use. Imagine if that money was not taken from the people in the form of taxes, and was left in our pockets. Our nation would be so much more prosperous. China is learning from the failure of the Soviet Union in this regard. We could do better, too.

Natalie Davis: I have more to add

Mike Kole: I love a debate where I can run downstairs and grab another diet coke!

Moderator: btw- you two are AWESOME!

Natalie Davis: The Green philosophy centers around harmony, which is best achieved through efficient use of resources. Imagine all of the ungodly sums of money spent on US bases in other lands, weaponry, violence… Imagine how that money could be better spent on education, on fighting poverty and sickness around the world and at home… I look at this as being more about making a better world, and using all this wasted lucre for making a better world… that is what it is all about!

Natalie Davis: And yes, we are awesome!

Moderator: so really the motivating factor for all people is a good willed capitalism

Mike Kole: that’s redundant

Moderator: is it? How?

Mike Kole: no capitalist hates his customer

Natalie Davis: I would not say that, necessarily. No GOOD capitalist hates her/his customer.

Natalie Davis: Then again, many Greens are not capitalists at all.

Mike Kole: The capitalist who hates the customer suffiently loses the customer

Moderator: well, what I am saying is that (and Natalie as well) is that Capitalism is a equalizing force – or at least money is – and if a society focused on being lucrative and spending it’s money for the common good then that would be a, well, a good thing right?

Natalie Davis: The capitalist who hates the customer is a stupid, ultimately self-defeating capitalist. It CAN be an equalizing force, Dawn, but often what we see in this country and in others is that capitalism promotes inequality. Capitalism practiced badly, naturally…

Moderator: right.

Mike Kole: money is a tool, just like a screwdriver. You can use a screwdriver to insert screws or to poke someone’s eye…

Natalie Davis: Exactly.

Mike Kole: only if you want to lose them as customers!

Moderator: Natalie/Mike – Under the current administration, a million jobs were lost and have yet to be recreated – how can the libertarians and the greens re-energize the economy?

Natalie Davis: The message we get from Democrats and Republicans is that we can not afford to care for children and poor mothers. I don’t buy that. We have a responsibility to care for the health and well-being of the young. Yet we see the federal safety net being removed and replaced with limited and potentially harsh state welfare programs. Not good. Our first community priority must be to protect the young and helpless. Local decision-making is important, but as we learned during the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s, strict federal standards must guide state actions in providing basic protections. Being the richest nation in the world, it is immoral for the US to condemn millions of children to a life of poverty, while corporate welfare is increased to historic highs.

The Green philosophy is all about creating a sustainable society. An unsustainable society is also an unjust society — and that is what the US presently is. When communities are stressed by poverty, despair, and the violence that comes from poverty and despair, our ability to meet the challenges of the post-industrial age are critically impaired. So it is time for a radical shift in the nation’s attitude toward helping families, children, poor people, and the differently abled. We must take a holistic, future-focused path toward distributing resources in the nation with an eye to satisfying our present needs and on those for future generations.

We must take an uncompromising position that the care and nurture of children, elders and the disabled are essential to a healthy, peaceful, and sustainable society. We should recognize that the work of their caregivers is of social and economic value, and reward it accordingly. Ensuring that children and their caregivers have access to an adequate, secure standard of living should form the cornerstone of our economic priorities. Only then can we hope to build our future on a foundation of healthy, educated children who are raised in an atmosphere of love and security. Only then can we be sure that economic justice for all is attainable and attained.

Mike Kole: It was hinted at with the military question. Everything that is paid for by taking money out of the hands of citizens and pooled for the purpose of spending on something else causes that many fewer choices to be made by citizens. Sure, creating a fat military creates more military jobs, but the cost in taxes diverts resources away from individuals would have bought consumer goods, or invested or even- get this- saved. Every governmental program comes with a cost in dollars and in opportunity costs. The more programs you have of any kind, the more of a drag there will be on the economy.

I will take issue with the green position for dealing with poverty. There is a great consistency in saying that since the US is the world’s superpower, it should be the world’s cop; and, since the US is such an economic power, so it should be the use its power to redistribute wealth. The only way any economic assistance program works is by taking money in the form of taxes and redistributing it. It is one thing if the people having the money taken from agree to this method, but what about those who do not? Should they have this economic cop use police power to take money from citizens against their will? Not is a society that respects all the rights of all its citizens.

Natalie Davis: I have to respond.

Moderator: go ahead

Natalie Davis: The Green philosophy as stated in its official platform is a document drafted by a group of people once every four years; the most recent one was created earlier this year. Part of the platform is a declaration that not all Greens — and certainly not all Green-supporting Independents like myself — subscribe to every position taken. Personally, I believe that we have a moral responsibility to help those who are disadvantaged economically. However, I do not agree with many of the measures the Green platform suggests, such as income caps and such. They are anti-liberty and act as disincentives for people to achieve. At the same time, I believe tax dollars should be spent differently and with an eye toward leveling the economic playing ground.

As for those who disagree with their money going to programs to help people, well, I disagree with my money being spent on violence and implements of war. What is my recourse?

Mike Kole: Libertarians believe that each person is responsible for themself. People make choices in life, some of which lead to poverty, and some of which take them out of poverty. I am not including in this discussion people with mental disabilities, for instance. But, for most people, being educated, or not, is a choice. Working two jobs when necessary, or not, is a choice. Being born into poverty does not mean that the choice to get out of poverty cannot be made. Sure, the surrounding culture of those living in poverty is not exactly conducive to rising above it, but the choice is still there.

Mike Kole: The recourse is to be found in a society that respects individual rights. My definition of freedom is the right to abstain from participation. In a more libertarian society, it would be acknowledged that there are some 300 million individuals in this country, with approximately 400 million points of view, making the common good extremely hard to define. The premise of some common good is what allows our monies to be taken from us, deposited in a pool, chewed up in the meat grinder called the budget, where all manner of allocations are made. If you had the right to abstain, politicians would have to do some hard thinking before funding military adventurism.

Moderator: Mike, what if you have a mother or father who wish to work say THREE jobs to raise themselves and their loved ones out of poverty but have no means or way to have their children taken care of while they work these jobs, isn’t it conceivable that if willing to do what is necessary to change their economic status, a person should be given assistance – even if it is legislatively, as in the govt. providing them say free daycare, or some kind of help? I know of perfectly hard working people who through no fault of their own have fallen through the gaps of society

Natalie Davis: Choices are not there for people without access to good schools and training and for those who can not afford to move to other areas. (As for the choice of not falling prey to drugs and crime, well, that certainly exists, and many people in poverty don’t succumb to those ills. That doesn’t give them economic mobility, though.) The Green philosophy — and I support this part — is that personal responsibility is key, but that we are all responsible for each other as well. It is about humane behavior and global sustainability. We are supposed to be a human family.

Moderator: Is there no responsibility within the cohesive structure of a govt. that we pool a certain level of resources – cooperative even – to help those who are having misfortune?

Mike Kole: In response to Dawn: the parents who chose to have children without the means to support them have chosen a hard life. By what right do people who make such choices suppose that they should not have to face a predictable outcome at the expense of someone else?

Natalie Davis: Because the children of the family that made bad choices are still the future of ALL of us.

Moderator: that response has many fallacies – as it is possible that a person could have lost their resources – through a death, a disability any number of problems

Natalie Davis: The chain of life connects us all, whether or not we like it.

Mike Kole: I want to respond to too much of what’s up here. I need a traffic light

Moderator: I will stop and let you respond to Natalie, sorry about that I got a little fired up – carry on.

Natalie Davis: What it comes down to is that without social justice and true equal opportunity, there can not be economic injustice. Folks will be consigned to the hell that is the four percent (or more) in poverty called for in theoretical capitalism. From the 10 key values of the Green Party: “All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.” We can quibble over “benefit equally,” but for too many there is too little or no access. That access must exist is America is to be America.

Mike Kole: Liberal and Green philosophy always makes allowances for misfortune. That’s fine, but the cost has to be considered, and respecting the rights of people who have earned need to be respected. The chain of life needs to be more than servitude in support of people who make regrettable choices. A more respectful way of pooling support for the unfortunate is to create voluntary funding pools that people can choose to contribute to. Private charities do this, and government could do it too- voluntarily. Social justice is taking the predictable outcomes of both good and bad choices.

Natalie Davis: Which takes us back to the point discussed earlier — too many people are unwilling to do (what some consider to be) the right thing. Greed is the prevailing American ideal.

Mike Kole: Greed is not defined by the desire to preserve an income one has earned. Greed is defined by the desire to take an unearned income from one who has earned it.

Moderator: perhaps a new question – maybe something we all can agree on – any more to add on this?

Natalie Davis: Depends on who is doing the defining, Mike.

Mike Kole: back to that sticky ‘common good’ fallacy

Moderator: I know there is more, but we have to stop somewhere – consensus anyone?

Mike Kole: sure- move on

Natalie Davis: We agree to disagree.

Moderator: The war on drug has cost billions in tax dollars, destroyed thousands and thousands of lives and done very little to curb drug use and drug abuse. What is the problem with the current method of dealing with drug use and what do you propose would be a better solution based on your parties strategies?

Moderator: Natalie/Mike respectively

Mike Kole: we’ll be agreeing on this one!

Natalie Davis:: The Green position is to support decriminalization of victimless crimes. Of course — as with the Libertarians — we demand an end on the encroachment of personal liberties that is the current federal position on drugs and marijuana and that is the cruel joke that is the “War on (some) Drugs (and a plant).”

Of course we support a revision of the view of the “drug problem” — it should be dealt with medically, not legally. And laws covering irresponsible use of drugs — driving under the influence, etc. — already exist. These should be enforced. But the imprisonment of people must stop — more than 12 million people have been jailed for marijuana since 1965; more than 700,000 last year alone. This is madness.

Mike Kole:: There are many problems with the war on drugs, and the tax cost is a part of it. See my dead-weight loss arguments above. The larger problem of illegal drugs is that it empowers the worst elements of our society- the ones willing to take enormous criminal risks, and to use violence as a means to arriving at big money. The lessons of Prohibition tell us all we need to know about why prohibiting behavior people want to engage in doesn’t work.

Moderator: Do we owe it to society to educate the populus to the dangers of drugs and offer rehabilitation if we are to make it legal and accessible?
Mike Kole:: The solution, as we agree with the Greens, is to de-criminalize marijuana, and to put it into retail shops, just as beer and whiskey is. Put age restrictions on the availability of the product, etc.

Mike Kole:: Where individual rights are respected, people can do what they like with their lives, so long as they do not bring injury to another person. If a person chooses to wile the day away using recreational drugs, they are not by that act harming anyone else. Of course, if they steal the money for their drugs, they have committed the crime of theft.

Natalie Davis:: Why not? There is freedom of expression. Those who wish to speak out against it have every right to do so, as do those who wish to speak in favor of it. As members of a human family, we have a responsibility to offer rehabilitation and medical help to those who need it.

Mike Kole:: We’ll part company on this one. Rehab is the responsibility of the individual, not the society. As soon as the responsibility becomes societal, you create the need for sobriety police who need to root out people who need rehab, to direct them to it, and then to make others pay for it whether or not they care to.

Natalie Davis::The current administration has promoted the outsourcing of jobs overseas as a way to stimulate the economy – clearly this plan hasn’t come to fruition – can you explain why and what your parties position is on outsourcing?
Natalie Davis:: Mike, I don’t believe in any rehab police. People have to decide for themselves whether they need or want help. But I see the offering of rehab as being part of any clinic that offers medical services, such as sick- or well-baby care, or obstetrics, or geriatric care. But that gets into health care. As for some regulating body over publicizing the “disadvantages of drug use,” I imagine something akin to those agencies that warn the public against smoking and drunk driving. I agree with Mike in being opposed to that sort of thing.

Moderator: So it should be a requirement to provide the disadvantages of drug use (like with tobacco) in a public policy fashion, or just let people figure it out for themselves. I guess I am asking, should their be a regulating body on this?

Mike Kole:: Sure, regulate the product and its sale. I would expect the education on the effects of drugs and alcohol to be the same kind of a part of a curriculum handling nutrition. It should be part of the curriculum, but not necessarily the part of any aggressive ad campaigns- such as we have now.

Moderator: Okay, we have just a couple more questions if everyone is ready?

Mike Kole:: ready


Natalie Davis:: Both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for the increasing pattern of job outsourcing, thanks to their enactment of international trade pacts and authorities such as NAFTA and the WTO and other policies that favor corporate elites rather than working people.

The resulting globalization of corporate power over the past decade has severely damaged labor rights, as well as other human rights, democracy, and the environment, throughout the world.

Outsourcing jobs across U.S. borders to the lowest bidder has reduced the ability of the global economy to consume what it produces, which, in the long run has resulted in lower prices, lower wages, unemployment, and less consumption. Take a visit to sweatshops in Mexico along the Texas Border and you’ll see that outsourcing isn’t benefitting those providing the cheap labor. Outsourcing is not a win-win situation — it only fills the pockets of greedy US firms that care more for profits than for people. The ideology of globalization coincides with the agenda of Republicans and mainstream Democrats: transfer more and more public services and resources to corporate ownership; weakening of working people’s rights and the power of unions.

Most Americans are luckier than those in other lands getting US jobs. We haven’t seen the kind of economic disasters suffered by Argentina and Mexico. But US citizens are increasingly seeing their jobs disappear, especially high-wage, high-skill jobs. The Bush Administration boasts of an economic recovery, but the only people benefiting are the corporate benefactors of both of the Democratic and Republican parties. More than two million American jobs have disappeared since the White House Squatter was selected. A real recovery should have created about eight million new private-sector jobs. But according to Stephen S. Roach of Morgan Stanley, employment is even 2.4 million jobs lower than the level predicted by the economy’s performance during the 1991-92 recession. Outsourcing has disproportionately affected people depending on race, with African Americans and Latinos suffering the highest rates of unemployment — 12.9 and 9.6%, respectively, according to a New York Times article on New York City rates published on February 28 of this year.

Their platform says that Greens support a number of decisive measures to reverse the current economic direction: public works projects to create living-wage jobs; community-based economic policies, with an emphasis on local democratic control; dismantling the power that corporations have over our democracy, especially over trade policy; maintenance of public control over resources; strengthening labor rights and protections, including repeal of Taft-Hartley restrictions on union organizing at home and support for workers’ rights and democratic unions around the world.

We need to globalize democracy, not corporate power. But we’ll only get true global democracy when we have a noncorporate political force active at local, national, and global levels.

Mike Kole:: I don’t have a problem with outsourcing at all. What outsourcing does is allows people to find the lowest price possible for services. The issue of chasing the lowest price for labor is not a new one. Once again, go to school on British history. The British mercantilist policy was a protectionist one. It attempted to keep jobs and trade within Britain. It didn’t work, and the beneficiary of this failed policy was the United States, with its pool of cheap, eager labor.

The United States is moving increasingly towards making the protectionist mistakes Britain made. The outcome of doing so will be predictable.

There is a fear that as factories move away, jobs move away to be replaced with nothing. This is not reality. American industry has seen the textile industry move from Massachusetts to the Carolinas, and when it was happening, it was largely argued that the economy of Massachusetts would go straight into the abyss. It never happened. Why? There remained the ability for entrepreneurs to create new industries, and with them new jobs.

Some people have an absolute and irrational fear of unemployment. Sure, unemployment sucks for the jobless person, but some measure of unemployment allows for fluidity in the job markets. Imagine full employment: everybody has a job, and nobody goes wanting for one. What happens when a person comes up with a new business idea, or a plant wants to expand? The job market is tight. The jobs either go overseas, or they fail to materialize at all.

What is important is that the jobless have a continued availability to choose work, and are willing to be re-trained for other work.

Ah, I could go all day. Natalie’s turn.

ndavis196: “Unemployment sucks for the jobless person, but…”

But? Wow. Our concerns are for the jobless persons. I don’t choose to work, I HAVE to work. I would gladly be retrained to do something else, but the means to do so do not exist. Probably going to corporate welfare…

Ready to move on.

Moderator:Should we change the verbage of the Pledge of Allegiance?

Natalie Davis: Frankly, I find the very idea of a Pledge of Allegiance ridiculous, and I take pride in never reciting it.

But if there is going to be one, the pledge should be representative of everyone, and many Americans do not believe in God. Why exclude them? The Pledge only gained those obnoxious two words in the 1950s, during the heart of the Red Scare. We didn’t need them before; we do not need them now — unless we are fundamentalist Christians in desperate need of bending the masses to our will…

Mike Kole:Once we handle some of the real priorities of policy, we can get to the Pledge. It ranks extremely low on my totem pole. Interestingly, it was my wife’s great grandfather who suggested ‘under God’ to FDR. I’m no fan of national oaths.

Moderator: Last but not least, if you were forced to vote for either Bush or Kerry in this upcoming election, who would you choose and why?

Natalie Davis:Let me pull a John Edwards and go to a previous question — re: outsourcing, I had found a story on the subject that addressed the notion that outsourced jobs are replaced (tell that to the people of Flint, MI). Counldn’t re-find this before, but for info’s sake, here is a link to the NPR audio piece…

As to the final question, FORCED? If someone had a gun to my head, I would take the bullet.

But I will play your reindeer game and say Kerry. Bush is a terrorist. Kerry is bought and paid for by many of the same people as the Republicans, but I do get a sense he cares for some people. Of course, I do not believe in selecting the lesser of two evils — either way, I would be choosing evil, and that I will not do.

Mike Kole: Kerry, only because it would cause gridlock. The GOP has told the American people for years that they were the party of smaller government, and if only they had the Congress and the White House… Alas. The GOP has the Congress and the White House, and government has grown faster and larger than ever before, at a rate that made FDR and LBJ look like deciples of Milton Friedman. Gimme that gridlock. Let Kerry and the Congress fight like dogs.

Natalie Davis: LOL!

Moderator: I want to extend my sincerest thanks to both of you

Natalie Davis:: Thanks, Dawn, and thank you too, Mike. Good luck in your pursuits.

Mike Kole: Thanks for the invite! It’s been fun.

Moderator: you guys were really great and I have learned a lot

Mike Kole: Thanks Natalie! All the best to you!

Moderator On behalf of Blogcritics, we all thank you for your time and sharing you well thought out opinions

Please see our first debate between Michele Catalano and Neal Pollack here.

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