American Prospect Online – ViewWeb
This may seem like a weird time for progressives to feel optimistic, but a confluence of recent events suggests the faintest breeze of hope in the air.
Granted, the winds of corruption and shortsightedness still dominate. More so than at any time in recent memory, high-level officials are indistinguishable from right-wing lobbyists, gutting government’s ability to regulate corporate power. The Justice Department is throwing the fight against the tobacco companies; the White House is busy editing the science out of regulations that might restrain polluters.
Meanwhile, the administration and its congressional allies continue the fiscal recklessness that has been their hallmark since they got here. If they continue to have their way — and they recently added a new slew of regressive tax cuts to their 2006 budget — it will eventually be impossible for government to fulfill essential functions, from safety nets to investment in future technologies. (I know, that’s the point: Starve the beast.)
Given this gale force of business as usual, where’s this hopeful little breeze coming from? In fact, from a number of places:
A counter-theme is evolving. As these political phenomena are unfolding, leading newspapers have been providing a critically important â€śback storyâ€ť regarding trends in economic inequality and mobility. A theme — moving away from risk shifting and back to risk sharing — is emerging.
In my mind, there seem to be three main issues to explore: mobility, risk, and opportunity.
Mobility is about being able to move up relative to others. Risk is about being secure in one’s economic condition (not having to face major hardship from, say falling ill or losing ones job). Opportunity is about allowing everyone to improve their economic condition.