Friday, July 28, 2006

The Effects Of Trading Free Trade For Nothing At All

As I was preparing to write up a post on an encounter I had a couple of nights ago, I came across a passage in the Washington Post pointed out by David Sirota on Kos that talks about The Hamilton Project, "an effort by the (Bill) Clinton economic braintrust to generate new ideas and a Democratic election agenda." I decided to integrate it into this post because it really serves to provide backround and as The Dude would say in the Big Lebowski, it really ties the room together. From the Washington Post:

Policy-wise, this is exactly where the Democratic Party as a whole needs to be in terms of trade and globalization. But the problem is that, when you scratch the surface, the free-trade members of the Democratic establishment turn out to be more committed to Part A of the formula, more globalization, than they are to Part B, making sure the benefits from globalization are widely shared. For them, it's really not a package deal. And if push comes to shove, which it always does in trade politics, they'd welcome more globalization even without the compensatory social policies.

How do I know this? Because they said so.

At the conference's closing session, I asked former Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin and Larry Summers and former deputy Treasury secretary Roger Altman if any of them would be willing to support the idea of a "time out" on new free-trade initiatives until there was some tangible progress toward greater economic security for U.S. workers. To a man, they recoiled at the idea.

They recoiled. This says a lot about the friction between the bloggers and the Democratic beltway elite. We don't need to go to something such as a Hamilton Project conference to see what needs to be done, because we see the results of these trade policies every day. We're not far enough away to be afforded such disconnect.

Don't get me wrong, they're still better than the republicans. They can see the forest, but in the end, they simply cut down the trees as well. Currency is printed on paper you know, and that is where their true loyalties lie. It's not that I have anything against making money, I quite enjoy it myself, but I believe with wealth comes responsibility.

Anyway, these people do have a disconnect with us living in Realworldia, and Realworldia is where my story takes place.

Last night, upon returning from a bar I frequent, I ran into a gentleman probably in his early fifties who asked me for some money. He was a newbie, newbie homeless that is. He had lived as so many do too close to the edge too long. The odds had finally caught up with him.

It was awkward for him when he made his ask. He hadn't been on the street long enough to come up with a rap. No car out of gas with a pregnant girlfriend in it, no bus fare needed, no trying to be upfront and honest wanting money to buy liquor. He was simply hungry, and looked as if he felt shame in having to ask others for the means to satiate that hunger.

After I moved along, I started thinking about the others, the other newbies and the life long street residents that I have come across in my lifetime. Then I remembered that in a couple of months it would be the second anniversary of the death of one of the local long time street denizens, Tim.

Tim was a guy in the neighborhood who was always polite to me, and always kept me informed as to the goings on in our little patch of Columbus as well. He had been in some sort of accident or possibly a war that cost him three of his limbs and part of his right hand. I never asked. Almost two years ago Tim decided that he could take the street life no more.

Tim drug himself up under an overpass with the one good hand, then took the one track trip to hell on the mainline express. A pure matchhead of smack warmed his way into the afterworld. You always find these things out in strange ways. I didn't even know he was dead for a couple of weeks. I figured he was in the lockup, or the lockdown depending on which government agency was rousting the homeless that week. Another homeless guy shyly approached me and told me the story. A careful review of past newspapers confirmed it to me.

I wondered, would this newbie I encountered's life also end in such a manner? It's always impossible to know how someone will react to life on the streets. One thing is for sure, this government will do nothing to stop that slide, no, the only effect this government will have on his life will be to cut the already meager social programs that could help him rebuild his shattered life.

By this time I had reached the front door of my building. Taped to it was a summons to appear in court for an eviction proceeding. It seems my neighbor will soon be newbie homeless too. I guess tomorrow will be deja vu all over again.

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