Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Sacrifice?

I missed part of President Obama's press conference last night because I wasn't paying attention to the time. I did, however, catch the strange question from NBC's Chuck Todd. I've mulled it over I still find it hard to believe he, or anyone in the corporate media are so clueless, that they feel justified in asking such a question.

"Some have compared this financial crisis to a war, and in times of war, past presidents have called for some form of sacrifice. [...]

"Why, given this new era of responsibility that you're asking for, why haven't you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?"

The president answered by pointing all of the myriad ways in which Americans are already sacrificing during this crisis. That should have reset Todd's brain and recalled it to reality but it didn't. In a follow up, Todd asked why Obama has called on "specific" sacrifices from Americans. Once again, the president explained, " American people are making a host of sacrifices in their individual lives."

The problem with Todd's question points out something that the media just doesn't seem to grasp. "Sacrifice" comes in two flavors. The first is "no choice" as in millions of Americans have lost their jobs, homes, savings, and health care. They aren't sacrificing because they want to or because it is the right thing to do. These are the people that President Obama is trying help. These people have already sacrificed quite a bit and it is what is making the economy bad. If the president asks Americans to sacrifice more, it will just make the economy that much worse.

The other kind of "sacrifice" is "voluntary". It's where I have more than I truly need and so I share it with you, even if by doing so I have to eat macaroni one meal a week instead of roast beef. "Sacrifice" is not the millionaire giving his pocket change to a bum on the street...that's some form of charity but painless. Sacrifice entails loss, either involuntary or voluntary. Someone making a seven figure salary that voluntarily gives most of it away to the needy and then lives on the $100,000 left over is sacrificing the "high life" and doing good work but still "sacrifice" is a strong word.

Somehow the media seems to believe the president is going about this all wrong. Obama should ask us to sacrifice more during the crisis. The administration should make conditions even more difficult for Americans. Yes, some of the top 10% should maybe take a little off the top and spread it around or pay a little higher tax rate as Obama has suggested but unless there is another World War where we need to sacrifice for the war effort then Americans are sacrificing plenty, thank you very much.

How can these people be so completely backwards...very strange.

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